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Why wasn’t this cop fired years ago?

This article contains news and liberal commentary?

“A former Tennessee state trooper’s insistence that he never yanked the mask off a protester near the state Capitol has been refuted by surveillance footage and an eyewitness account from a fellow law enforcement officer,” ABC News reported on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 (read story here). Dang. Video caught another cop lying. When will they learn?

In 2001, a captain recommending firing Trooper Harvey Briggs “after a heated exchange with an assistant district attorney who told him he couldn’t bring a gun into court while not on duty.” But he stayed and racked up “a lengthy disciplinary record” that included suspensions. For things like this:

“In April 2001, while a fellow officer was inspecting a truck in Coffee County, Briggs approached two drivers walking across the parking lot, got into a crouched stance, unstrapped the retaining strap on his holster and asked, as he pointed his finger at the two, ‘All right, which one of you am I going to shoot first?’ He later repeated the statement and gesture to them inside an office.”

Another of his suspensions was for “losing a gun.”

(From the Tennessee-based Daily News Journal here.)

“After Briggs’ encounter with the protester, he was fired and charged with assault,” ABC News said, adding in that incident, he “also violated state law by not wearing a mask himself.” Wait a minute. He didn’t wear a mask, and ripped a mask off a protester? Is he an anti-masker?

Back in 2009, a lieutenant wrote that “Trp. Briggs has a ‘unique’ personality.” Most people use a three-letter word to describe this type of personality.

So how did someone like this get to be a cop in the first place? The cop who killed Tamir Rice also was unsuited for police work, but after being fired by one police agency, was hired by the department he was working for when he shot the little boy with a popgun. But the problems in recruit selection are much bigger than people like these falling through the cracks; the FBI discovered that the Ku Klux Klan, militias, and white supremacists are infiltrating police agencies across the U.S., which I wrote about here.

Beyond the wrong people becoming police officers, there are problems with how they’re trained and supervised, and discipline isn’t nearly tough enough, as this case shows. That’s partly because police unions have been given power over discipline, going far beyond their proper role of representing and defending their members in disciplinary proceedings, through their collective bargaining contracts. That must change. Rogue police officers also have too much legal immunity in most places (Washington State recently acted on that issue).

American policing is diffused across 18,000+ independent police agencies, so reform will be difficult and slow in coming. But the protests against police abuses must continue until it comes, because the status quo is intolerable.

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