Whitecaps

Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Name:
Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Preferential Treatment?

Are there citizens who sometimes receive preferential police treatment because of their occupation or perceived prominence in the community?

In the last few days our local newspaper, the Coeur d'Alene Press, has reported how local police handled two different instances of citizens allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In the first case a 66-year old retired Air Force fighter pilot failed a field sobriety test, passed the legally required breath test, but was evaluated by a police drug recognition "expert" as being under the influence of drugs. He was arrested and booked into the county jail. Two laboratory urinalyses revealed no drug impairment, and the charges were eventually dropped after waiting several weeks for the laboratory results.

In the second case a 53-year old high school coach failed a field sobriety test and passed the legally required breath test. The officer suspected drug impairment, however there was no police drug recognition "expert" available to evaluate the suspect. The coach was cited and given a ride home by the police officer. Unlike the suspect in the first case, the costs of towing the coach's car were paid by the city, and the coach received a personal apology from the police chief. Charges against the coach were dropped after the police chief contacted the state laboratory and requested them to expedite the testing which normally takes two weeks.

These two local arrests raise the question asked at the beginning of this post: Are there citizens who sometimes receive preferential police treatment because of their occupation or perceived prominence in the community?

Reading the two stories linked for the earlier examples, one could easily answer "maybe."

But are there ever instances when the answer changes from "maybe" to "absolutely?"

Yes, if the driver suspected of driving under the influence is a police officer.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reviewed "...seven years' worth of internal discipline records, arrest reports, accident reports, license-suspension files and court documents statewide," and found conclusive evidence that police officers often receive preferential treatment when facing drunk driving arrests themselves. In their August 6, 2007, online article titled A broken system works in favor of cops busted for DUI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigative reporters Eric Nalder and Lewis Kamb noted, "Cops confronted with a drunken-driving arrest fare better than the average citizen."

Carefully reading the Post-Intelligencer article will reveal that many of the officers involved apparently believed their occupational choice (law enforcement) entitled them to the preferential treatment they sought and sometimes received. They wanted sympathy and empathy, not objectivity, from their fellow officers, and they apparently had no reservations about expressing that expectation of entitlement to the arresting officer.

Addendum, August 8, 2007: There is a followup article titled When cops let fellow cops drive drunk in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It talks about the very real, personal consequences to an officer whose fellow officers empowered his career-ending addiction. We, the people, contribute to addictions by police officers when we set unreasonably high and unattainable expectations for their performance. Law enforcement is an occupational choice, not a calling.

7 Comments:

Blogger tumblewords said...

I'm trying to remember if I ever met a person who didn't believe he was entitled to preferential treatment. Must be something in the human gene.

There's a lot more light on that subject now than there has been, so maybe the dishonesty can be reduced somewhat.

Good post!

4:57 PM, August 06, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

Tumblewords,

Thanks for reading and commenting. We all like to think we're special, and we like it even more when someone else agrees with us.

I recall one time in Santa Barbara, CA, at a press checkpoint for a presidential visit. A local television news reporter got miffed when she was denied entrance for not having a valid press credential. "Don't you know who I am?" she screamed at the posted agent. He smiled sweetly at her and politely said, "Yes, ma'am, I do. You're the person who isn't getting in without a valid press pass."

8:01 PM, August 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, speaking of preferential treatment. Do you think the Feds will ever look into the circumstances behind the failed Jet Court Program and the pay off's by the ICRMP?

9:56 PM, August 08, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

Anonymous,

I don't know. If there is a credible allegation that federal money has been used fraudulently or wasted, the funding agency's Office of Inspector General would be one party responsible for investigating. For example, if the funding came from the US Department of Justice, then DoJ's OIG would be the place to lodge a complaint.

7:28 AM, August 09, 2007  
Blogger seenthatbefore said...

why is it that certain people have unique window stickers stuck in their passenger side back windows?

10:17 PM, August 11, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...

seenthatbefore,

To support the growing cottage industry of manufacturing unique window stickers to put inside the passenger side back window so people will wonder if you're someone with clout or a recovering drunk or a religious nut or a retired cop?

6:22 AM, August 12, 2007  
Blogger seenthatbefore said...

probably the latter, retired or not.

5:15 PM, August 12, 2007  

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