With Rank Comes Privilege: With Privilege, Power. Part 3

MARIAN **name changed**

M was an intern that applied for a recruit position.  As an intern she would take telephone and walk-in reports and write them up.  She did a great job.  When she was hired Woody told her she should have a plan B.  They then marked her down for her report writing (Huh??) and eventually had her so stressed out that she was told quit or be fired.  She quit.  She then joined the military and was so extraordinary, at the end of training, even though she was injured and couldn’t finish, her commander awarded her, her dress blues.  She never recovered from her injuries.  She died during the early stages of our first lawsuit. If she was exceptional in the military why wasn’t she good enough for GR?

LIZ **name changed**

Liz, was another police department intern that was hired as a recruit. She made it through academy like the others. In fact she was exceptional. During her field training her trainer required her to have 15 traffic stops a night (in a 10 hour shift) which included getting a Polaroid picture and thumb print.  There were many times a Sgt wasn’t available which meant waiting, and making the detained subject wait until a Sgt was available to bring over the photo/print kit.  This took a lot of time, resulted in her not making her quota and she was marked down.  Being an intelligent problem solver, she went and bought supplies and made her own kit, this angered her Training Officer.

Liz’s trainer told her that no one wanted her there.

She was coming in an hour early, leaving hours late and doing her trainers paperwork. She was single with two children and had to hire a live-in nanny.  She wasn’t getting any sleep, her hair was falling out.  They wore her down and gave her the quit or be fired speech.  She quit.  When we called to tell her about our suit, she immediately said, “I’m in!”

SAM **name changed**

SAM in B&E squad consistently given 2-3 times the number of cases her male partner was assigned and then berated for having so many open cases (her male partner was nice enough to recognize this and help her).  This is different than what happened to me.  She was later transferred to the Auto Squad because she didn’t want to go to Auto Squad.

PATRICIA

One night, the vice unit pulled over a black man and asked for a patrol car.  Patricia was sent.  Vice told her to search his car.  She asked “For what reason”.  They didn’t have one and he wasn’t under arrest.  They told her to do it anyway.  She refused.  The man asked her “Can they do that?”  She told him they can’t do that without a warrant, or without your permission and you don’t have to give it to them.  He said “No, you can’t search my car.”  They arrested him, handcuffed him, placed him in Patricia’s car, searched his car, didn’t find anything and left.  She was left to deal with the situation, calling dispatch to contact Vice to come back and deal with the situation. They ignored dispatch.  Patricia had to ask for a supervisor and complained about their behavior. The Supervisor asked her if she was making a formal complaint (crossing the thin blue line).  She replied, no, that is your job as a supervisor to correct these things.  Her supervisor told her just to release the man, and she did.  The Supervisor did nothing.  This is why she was called a bitch.  She followed the rules and the law.  Arresting, then un-arresting seemed to be a habit of some officers.  They never got in trouble for it.  One wonders what their police report looked like and how they justified probable cause after an illegal search.

THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO ME

When I worked the road on the West Side of Grand Rapids, I noticed one of the SGTs kept showing up or driving by my calls.  I didn’t think much of it because it was nothing new really. One night, I went to get dinner on Alpine, slightly out of our area (in the area where Fazoli’s is now).  It was a place we were allowed to go because at the time there were not many choices available to us. The SGT sent me a message.  It read, “Are you lost?”  I responded, “No, why do you ask??  He asked, “Where are you?”  I told him where I was.  He told me “You can’t eat there, it’s outside the city.  I asked him “Is this a new rule?”  He said, “You can’t go there.”  I responded “ok”, and left without eating.  Everyone else was still allowed to eat there, but I wasn’t.  I later found out he had been told to follow me around.

FIREARMS

During my initial firearms training at the department, I qualified as expert.  I was and continue to be very proficient with my handgun, shotgun and rifle.

We had to train and qualify with our firearms twice a year.  During one qualification course I was ordered back the next day.  This was not unusual for the women and minorities to be ordered back for remedial, it happened often, for the stupidest things.  But this time they told me I had to be there at 430 instead of my usual start time of 5pm.  

Not only was this unreasonable it was a contract violation.

I objected and notified SGT J that I couldn’t get there at 430 but I could make it by 5 (my normal shift start time) due to childcare. He didn’t think it would be an issue and called Woody on the phone in the range house. I was also in the range house and heard the conversation. Sgt J explained the situation, but Lt. Woody said, too bad she better be there at 430!  I scrambled trying to make alternate arrangements, which caused a number of major problems.

I barely got to the range at the time as I was ordered.  The day group wasn’t done yet and I had to wait 45 minutes for them to finish.  If I had been late after being ordered to be there at a certain time, I would have faced discipline.   Several days later I went directly to Chief H.D. and told him that I had believed him when he said he wanted to make GRPD a family friendly organization. I told him what happened and how it was unacceptable and a violation of our union contract to change my work hours without advance notice, not to mention just plain wrong.  He told me he would look into it. I knew Woody would be mad that I complained, but I was sick of it.

Two weeks later, I was in an on duty shooting.  It wasn’t my day to work.  I was working for another female officer who couldn’t get the day off for a wedding, so we traded shifts. It was Saturday, and it was Sweetest Day.

To be continued…

 

With Rank Comes Privilege: With Privilege, Power. Part 1

ABSTRACT (from my book in progress)

 Police departments are complex political organizations.  Policing has evolved from its early days where politicians hired their friends and supporters as “enforcers”.  The rise of professionalism has changed how selections are made.  Most departments do their best to hire and retain the best qualified individuals who are least likely to have or cause future problems.  Pre-employment testing is used to determine which candidates will be successful as a Law Enforcement Officer. This system is flawed and cannot predict how the job influences impressionable young people. Many new hires are fairly young, sometimes 18 years of age. When you give someone without a fully developed personality, a badge, a gun and power, it can go to their heads. Some do not understand the serious responsibility and enjoy the power they have over the lives of others. This can lead to the misuse of this power by some of these individuals. If the behavior is not discovered and addressed early on citizens are abused. When this behavior is encouraged or reinforced through corporate culture then they abuse their co-workers.  As they get promoted their position offers them insulation from discipline. The saying at the P.D. was “With rank comes privilege.” Bad things happen when bad people are in charge, but if you speak up worse things happen.

What is my book about?

TWO LEGAL CASES

Case 1:  2001       Gender discrimination case filed in State Court. There were 14 Plaintiffs, Only a couple plaintiff’s had sexual harassment claims

Case 2:  2002       Retaliation/civil rights violations filed in Federal Court/2 plaintiffs (Patricia/Renee’).

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

DISCRIMINATION, SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND RETALIATION

Discrimination: Differential treatment, a failure to treat all persons equally when no reasonable distinction can be found between those favored and those not favored (Black’s Law Dictionary) Proofs = adverse job action(s), and we all had them.

Sexual Harassment: A type of employment discrimination consisting of verbal or physical abuse of a sexual nature (Black’s Law Dictionary).

Retaliation: A discharge (or firing) made in retaliation for an employee’s conduct (such as reporting unlawful activity)/discharge for reasons that are illegal or violate public policy.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Federal law prohibiting employment discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, sex, pregnancy, religion, and national origin, as well as prohibiting retaliation against an employee who opposes illegal harassment or discrimination in the workplace (Black’s Law Dictionary).

ABOUT ME AND COPS IN GENERAL

Mark Baker wrote a book titled “Cops.”  When I read it I was struck by an observation: Baker says “In any department, anywhere, you can take 5 percent of the cops and they will be honest under any circumstances and they’ll never do anything wrong. They are the priests of the department. 5 percent on the other end of the spectrum would have been criminals had they not become policemen. They are in fact, criminals who happen to be cops. The remaining 90 percent will go whichever way the peer pressure goes” (Baker, 1985).  I have found this to be fairly accurate in my experience.

This phenomenon, speaks to Privilege.  Privilege?  What does that mean?  As a country we have had many conversations about privilege. Sometimes the conversations come in the form of protests, civil disobedience or legal wrangling.  We have come a long way, but not far enough.  Racial and Gender and various types of equality issues still remain.  Systems of oppression have changed, become more sophisticated and subtle.  Sometimes oppression is not apparent unless you are subject to it.

In Police departments, the military, the government (and I am not anti-government) if you have rank, you have privilege.  Who’s going to question the boss when the boss has the power to make life miserable?

TO BE CONTINUED…MY EXPERIENCES…

“COPS” By Mark Baker.  Click here to buy it.

Black’s Law Dictionary.   Click here to Buy it.