In the past couple of days I have seen some pretty wild things on the news about people who are supposed to protect and serve.
What Was She Thinking?
Brian Sterner was arrested by the Hillsborough (Tampa, Florida) Sheriff’s Office on traffic charges. Sterner who broke his neck 14 years ago is a quadriplegic. Apparently, one of the deputies did not believe that he was paralyzed. Her solution was to dump the guy out of his chair. If you watch the video closely you will see that apparently one of her colleges finds the whole thing amusing. In the process Sterner broke two ribs. The officers frisked him before attempting to get him back in the chair. The entire incident was caught on surveillance cameras. According to WXIA TV the sheriff’s office was unaware of the incident that happened last month until they were notified by a local TV station.
While most law enforcement officers are well trained professionals, the officers involved in this incident are not. They lack compassion, understanding and just plain common sense. Who in their right mind would think that dumping someone in a wheelchair out to see if they are faking or not is a good idea? The guy is paralyzed from the chest down, there are better ways to figure that one out. True the guy is being arrested but it is for traffic charges not a violent crime. This entire incident outrageous.
Who is the Adult Here?
By now you have probably seen the video clip of Baltimore Police Officer Salvatore Rivieri taking down Eric Bush, a 14-year-old skateboarder. Bush and some buddies were skateboarding in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor when they encountered Rivieri. Rivieri informs the teens that they can’t skateboard there. Bush has headphones on and did not here the officer, that is when the trouble breaks out. Rivieri becomes upset by what he interprets is lack of respect and unloads on the teen.
True, the teens were not supposed to be skateboarding there and probably knew that. However, they were teens and it isn’t uncommon behavior. There may have been some disrespect in Bush’s tone but that too is not uncommon for teens. Also, the use of dude is not necessarily disrespectful. Teens are disrespectful and many times are unaware that they are being disrespectful. It is the responsibility of the adults in a teen’s life to teach and model appropriate ways to interact with others.
Now Officer Rivieri is another matter. He is an adult and a law enforcement officer. He is charged with keeping peace and protecting the public. His rant is far worse than anything the teens did or said. He attacks a 14-year-old boy who is much smaller. There is no need for the use of force at this point. In seems that Rivieri has something to prove, maybe he is trying to compensate for that little tiny police car. One of his first comments is to threaten Bush with juvi. Get real juvi for skateboarding. He does not even know the kid’s name yet or if he has a record. Rivieri also asks if Bush treats his teachers that way. Well, the answer is yes he probably does. The behavior Bush exhibits on the tape is only mildly disrespectful. I am sure his teachers have to deal with much worse than on an average day. As the rant progresses Rivieri threatens Bush with future harm if he does not learn to be respectful. Maybe the officer should take his own advice and learn to keep his mouth closed.
The incident happened sometime last summer and has just surfaced on YouTube. It was posted February 9th by someone claiming to be Eric’s friend. I am curious why it has taken so long for this incident to surface.
911, Can You Hold?
This last one is unbelievable. Last month Brenda Orr, a disabled woman from Doylestown, PA called 911 because her bed was on fire. First, it took several rings for the operator to pick up. When they finally answered Orr’s attempts to explain her situation were ignored by the operator who placed her on hold. Here are is an expert from the call:
Operator: Thanks for holding. 911, what’s your emergency?
Caller: 911! The bed is on fire!
Operator: Are you still in the house?
Operator: All right. Well, you wanna get out of the house?
Caller: No. I’m disabled. The bed is fully inflamed.
Then Orr went silent.
If your wondering how Orr’s bed caught on fire she was smoking in bed. True that is contributory negligence. However that does not excuse the actions of the 911 operators. What were these people thinking? They are 911 operators not customer service reps for company. People do not call 911 because their cat is missing, they call for real emergencies. They are expected to answer the phone promptly and with urgency.
I realize that most law enforcement officers and other emergency workers are responsible and dedicated professionals. It just takes a few slackers to make the everyone else look bad.