Just a few bad apples

We hear that all the time from friends and family of the police. It’s simply not true. Even the officers who, outside their job, seem to be decent men, are wholly corrupted by the system. If they were genuinely good men they would not consent to look the other way, they would be whistleblowers and they would already be fired. And the police are not only corrupt, they are unaccountable.

They do not even pretend to hold their “brother officers” to the same standard they violently hold everyone else. That’s as true of murder as it is of speeding:

At 11:25 p.m., the three St. Johns County officers arrived at 4700 Sherlock Place, a one-story suburban house in this historic seaside community. A young deputy, Jonathan Hawley, was already there. “Oh my God,” he cried, seeing a young woman he knew lying on the bedroom floor, an inert, bloody mess.

Michelle O’Connell, 24, the doting mother of a 4-year-old girl, was dying from a gunshot in the mouth. Next to her was a semiautomatic pistol that belonged to her boyfriend, Jeremy Banks, a deputy sheriff for St. Johns County. A second bullet had burrowed into the carpet by her right arm.

Ms. Maynard quickly escorted Mr. Banks, who had been drinking, out of the house. “All of a sudden he started growling like an animal,” she said. With his fists, Mr. Banks pounded dents in a police car.

“I grabbed him and tuned him up,” another deputy, Wesley Grizzard, recalled. “I told him, I don’t care if you’re intoxicated or not, you better sober up.”

Within minutes of the shooting on Sept. 2, 2010, Mr. Banks’s friends, family and even off-duty colleagues began showing up, offering hugs and moral support. He huddled with his stepfather, a deputy sheriff in another county, before a detective interviewed him in a police car.

With his off-duty sergeant listening from the front seat, Mr. Banks gave this account: Ms. O’Connell had broken up with him and was packing to move out when she shot herself with his service weapon. He said he had been in another room.

Ms. O’Connell’s family, immediately suspicious, received a starkly different reception from the authorities. Less than two hours before she died, Ms. O’Connell had texted her sister, who was watching her daughter: “I’ll be there soon.” Yet when her outraged brother tried to visit the scene, officers blocked his way. The family’s request for an independent investigation was rebuffed, as was one sister’s attempt to tell the police that in the months before she died, Ms. O’Connell said she had been subjected to domestic abuse by Mr. Banks.

Before the sun rose the next morning over this place that calls itself “the nation’s oldest city,” the sheriff’s investigation was all but over.

Note that the corruption runs so deep that even the brother of the murdered young woman has ultimately sided with the department. But it is a huge mistake for the police to try to put themselves above the criminal justice system, because all it means is that everyone now knows that there is absolutely no point in turning to the police-corrupted system in search of justice.

By refusing to police their own and refusing to hold their own criminals accountable, the police have very stupidly painted a target on all their chests for the rest of the civilian population. I would not be at all surprised to see an increasing number of attacks on the police and on their families by those whose families are the victims of police crimes; I suspect the shootings in California and Colorado were a harbinger of future crimes to come.

It’s fitting, I suppose. What kind of declining empire would America be without corrupt and venal police forces?