Rod Watson’s July 5 column adds still another accusation to the growing lexicon of police misconduct from those who distrust the cops. The latest according to Mr. Watson is something called “exploitative policing,” referencing a recent lawsuit against the Buffalo Police for their since-terminated vehicle checkpoint program. We are getting to the point where any law enforcement activity where crime occurs that’s remotely proactive is deemed unfair, unjust and discriminatory.
Interestingly, the column acknowledges the rampant crime in the areas targeted by the checkpoints. But like all second guessers, Mr. Watson offers no idea on what the police should do. He simply states “there are ways” to effectively police these neighborhoods without saying what they are.
It is a cozy place where lawyers and columnists can criticize those risking life and limb to protect the public without offering any tangible ideas.
The legal process will sort out the issues of the lawsuit. It may determine that the checkpoints, while done in good faith, violated the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure. If so, it will be similar to cases where criminal courts suppress evidence for the same reason.
The clear majority of those incidents do not show intentional misconduct but only that the in-the-moment decision of a police officer was an error in judgement of what is legal. All police officers trying to do their best face this possibility every day.
But what the lawsuit and columns like Mr. Watson’s will never do is convince earnest officers to give up the fight in the face of constant onslaught from the naysayers. They will continue their efforts to help the law-abiding of any race or in any neighborhood in spite of both. Lucky for us all.
Gary M. Brignone