Where Are the Good Cops When We Need Them?

Where Are the Good Cops When We Need Them? July 30, 2015



University of Cincinnati Police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed an unarmed black man Samuel DuBose. At the time of this writing, prosecutor Joe Deters indicted him on murder charges and his bail has been set at one million dollars. I believe it is safe to say that Ray Tensing would not have been indicted with a million dollar bail had it not been camera footage of the incident—camera footage that by the way, came from Officer Tensing’s own body cam.

In other words, Officer Tensing shot and killed Dubose KNOWING he was wearing a body camera. Moreover, even though he knew he was wearing a body camera, he not only still shot Dubose in the face, but also then proceeded to lie about what he had done. Again, it is safe to conclude that if there had not been video evidence showing that Tensing was not in danger, that Dubose refused to exit the car, that Dubose “dragged” Tensing on the ground with his car, and any other lie Tensing put in his official report, the Grand Jury would not have indicted him for murder.

What this and all the other police killings show is that there is not a training problem with these rouge officers. They need not to have more experience or more sensitivity training. This is a character problem. It speaks to one’s personal ethics; how one governs oneself. They have already been trained to show respect to citizens. They have already been trained to demonstrate professionalism and courtesy at traffic stops. They have already been trained not to use their weapons unless necessary. They have already been trained to write truthful police reports. Therefore, in this case, no amount of training would have helped. This shooting speaks of the character of the officer because what kind of officer would shoot and kill an unarmed human, then lie about it, while all the time KNOWING that the whole thing was on tape because he was wearing a body camera?

However, I argue that this case also rejects the “good cop narrative.” In many of these cases, one of the first things people say is that “all cops are not bad” or there are more “good cops than bad ones.” However, I think we can at least ask, especially in this case, where are they? Where are the good cops when atrocities like this happen anyway? Where are the good cops in Sandra Bland’s death? Where are the good cops in the Darrius Stewart death, the 19 year old that officer Connor Schilling gunned down in Memphis Tennessee? Where are the good cops in any of these instances?

In this case, there was an excellent opportunity for at least two officers to be good cops. A good cop would not have corroborated the lie that Tensing told. A good cop would have come forward with the truth before the investigation was completed. A good cop would have confronted Tensing asking him “what the hell have you done,” or “that was messed up man.” A good cop would have shared the truth of the incident before any indictments because, well, that would be what a good cop would have done. Moreover, even if you were a dirty cop but more inclined to save yourself, you could have come forward simply because you KNEW that the tape would have exposed Tensing’s lies! However, as usual in these cases, there were no good cops, only ones who take “don’t snitch” to new and more corrupt levels.

Therefore, this case should challenge our “police get the benefit of the doubt” narrative as well. Even if you have been unabashedly pro police in your views on these events, this case serves as a reminder that police do not tell the truth always and if they lied here, what other cases have they lied about. In these cases, where were the good cops when we need them?

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