Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mesa PD misconduct - Update

Five Mesa police officers have been placed on administrative leave following 2 separate incidents, one involving the mishandling of a stillborn fetus and the other involving the use of excessive force against a handcuffed prisoner (Tribune version here).

While there will be some questions about why Gascon has made this announcement while the investitgations into these incidents are still under way, its probably smart for the chief to get out in front of these issues which are likely to stir up some controversy. Coming from LA, one would assume that Gascon has a decent understanding of how the public reacts to video evidence of excessive force. In a conservative town like Mesa, the handling of the fetus will probably stir even more emotions.

In both cases, the officers showed poor judgement. Now the question is, what punishment fits these transgressions? First, since Nicholas Webster is involved in both incidents, he should probably be let go. Both incidents are henious to begin with, then combine the fact that he was part of both calls into question on if he can be an effective upholder of the law. The lieutenant, Lynn White, who made the decision to flush the stillborn fetus is also likely to receive harsh punishment. Ultimately, they made the decision that the other officers carried out. Would they have made the decision if the baby were larger? Who knows, but one thing is for certain, they should have followed a better protocol on the case.

In the end, punishments should be dealt and Gascon should be praised for handling this issue swiftly. However, we must all remember that it does not appear that either of these events have ANYTHING to do with illegal immigration. People who are here legally can make dumb choices too.

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