I still believe the vast majority of police officers act in service of the public. That won’t ever change, and what you won’t read in this list are the countless saved lives, prevented acts of violence, apprehended assholes, reassured neighbors and inspired kids for which great cops are responsible. Fortunately, there are far too many to recount, and for that I thank and support our law enforcement agencies. But cops must be held to a higher standard; even if just one abuses his or her authority at the expense of the citizenry, that’s one too many.
Cleveland, January 1. Police officers arrest Edward Henderson after a crash ends a lengthy pursuit. A police helicopter films the arrest; when allegations of excessive force arise, Henderson’s attorney is shown the tape and proclaims the violence “shocking.” In March, four officers are charged with felonious assault. Those specific charges are dropped when the case is taken over by federal agents.
Washington D.C., March 18. Following a ten-month investigation, the Justice Department issues a report concluding the New Orleans Police Department engaged in systematic misconduct with regard to the city’s African-American population, including illegal arrests and racial profiling. The report points out that between January 2009 and May 2010, NOPD officers used deadly force against 27 individuals — all of whom were black.