A reader sends a follow up on the story about the UMass student who was threatened by an officer for videotaping the police breaking up a fight. The police department is investigating the incident and the student, Brendan Brown, is being very cool about it.
Officials at UMass Lowell quickly arranged a meeting between Brown and Deputy Police Chief Ronald Dickerson.
“He was very nice and he was doing a full investigation,” Brown said.
The officer who threatened Brown came forward, voluntarily, according to both Brown and Chief Brashears.
Brown said he doesn’t have any specific hopes on how the officer is disciplined.
“I want whatever their procedure is for this type of behavior,” Brown said. “I don’t want him to lose his job or anything.”
Brashears did not identify the officer or say what, if any, discipline he will face.
“We will use this opportunity to not only retrain the officer, but the entire department concerning the law over taping police in public,” Brashears wrote in an email.
For Brown, that’s good enough. He’s already back to studying.
“I’m not pursuing it any further than I have,” he said.
Frankly, I don’t think that goes quite far enough. I’m glad the department is going to train this officer and the others in the department on what the law says. Given how many similar incidents we’ve had, this should be mandatory nationwide. But I also think the officer should be disciplined — not fired, but there should be consequences for threatening someone with violence who hasn’t done anything wrong. Suspend him without pay for a week or two.
We are forever being told by the law-and-order types that punishment is the key to deterrence; that should apply to police officers as well. It should apply double to them because they are the ones to whom we give the exclusive authority to commit violence and to enforce the laws. When they violate those laws, they should be the first ones to test their theories about deterrence.