Useless But Not Harmless

William Norman Grigg

Recently by William Norman Grigg: The
Aurora Massacre and the ‘Propaganda of the Deed’

The bad news
for Rafael Lopez was that the 27-year-old Iraq war veteran had been
robbed and severely beaten by a gang of at least 10 men on the street
outside the Aqua nightclub in Minneapolis. The good news – or Lopez
initially thought – was that the assault took place less than ten
yards away from the 1st Police Precinct station.

Bruised and
bloodied, Lopez attempted to enter the station to file a complaint,
only to be met by Officer Aaron Hanson, who angrily told him to
leave. As Lopez tried to explain what had just happened to him,
two of Hanson’s comrades “came out, put their gloves on and
were yelling at me, telling me to get out,” he later recalled.

This was the
second time that evening that the intrepid Officer Hanson of the
Minneapolis PD had consciously refused to come to the aid of Lopez
and his friends.

Lopez had come
to the aid of his friend Joshua Rivera, whose wife Magdalena was
being harassed and intimidated by a pack of street thugs. While
trying to escort Magdalena to safety, he was blind-sided by several
of the goons. When Rivera came to Lopez’s aid, he was swarmed and
beaten unconscious. Magdalena ran to the police station to seek
help. She was able to get through the front door, but found that
the inner door was locked. She managed to get Hanson’s attention
and frantically gestured for him to come out, “but he just
shrugged his shoulders,” she recounted.

Magdalena went
back outside and borrowed a cell phone to call 911. A few minutes
later – long after he could have provided any help – Hanson ambled
outside. After Magdalena described what had happened to her husband
and their friend, the officer blithely explained “that he didn’t
need to deal with this because it happens all the time,” she
testified in an official complaint. Without offering to call an
ambulance, or even asking if anybody had been seriously hurt, Hanson
quickly retreated into the station and locked the door behind him.
It was “literally 10 seconds and he was already going back
inside,” Magdalena observes.

Later that
morning, Lopez went back to the station to file an incident report.

“He figured
police surveillance cameras on the street and at the police station
captured the assault,” related
the St. Paul Pioneer-Press
. “He hoped the videos
would lead to the identity of the assailants, whom he suspected
were members of a gang because they were all wearing white and red
shirts. It turned out he wasted his time.”

A few days
after the September 2, 2011 assault, the Minneapolis PD dispatched
an official notice to Lopez informing him that “this case does
not meet our threshold for investigative assignment at the present

If the gallant
men of the Minneapolis PD can’t be bothered to investigate a violent
gang rampage that took place less than thirty feet from a precinct
– in full view of the department’s surveillance cameras
– how can the department justify its existence?

As the Pioneer-Press
noted, “the building would have emptied had it been a member
in blue being pounced on outside.” This is proven, ironically,
by the actions of Officer Aaron Hanson in an incident that took
place seven years earlier.

During the
May 2004 “Art-A-Whirl” festival in downtown Minneapolis,
two off-duty officers – Robert Kroll and Wallace Krueger – got
their skivvies in a bind when a pedestrian named Jackson Mahaffy
accidentally hit Krueger’s car with a shoulder bag. The officers
tracked down Mahaffy, threw him to the ground, and began to kick
and punch him on the pretext of issuing a citation for “misdemeanor
damage to property.”

Kroll called
police dispatch to report “damage of property and an assault”
and request assistance. A few minutes later, several squad cars
converged on the scene, one of which decanted the valorous Officer
Hanson, who quickly established his “command authority” by beating
up a woman. 

Mahaffy was
kidnapped and detained by the Minneapolis PD on patently bogus charges
– assault on an officer, damage to property, and inciting a riot
– which were promptly dropped by the City Attorney. Mahaffy’s
lawsuit against the department was dismissed
on the familiar
and patently spurious grounds of “qualified immunity.” 

In his lawsuit,
Mahaffy noted Officer Hanson and his partner arrested him without
conducting an investigation – which would have meant, at very least,
hearing his side of the story and interviewing eyewitnesses on the
scene. In
its ruling dismissing thelawsuit
, the U.S. District Court for
Minnesota noted that Hanson and his partner “responded to a
call indicating an off-duty officer needed assistance. Under such
circumstances, officer safety is considered the first priority.”
(Emphasis added.)

Of course,
officer safety is ever and always the first – and only – priority.

when mere Mundanes were beaten and robbed in front of the precinct
station, it was entirely appropriate for Hanson to cower behind
a locked door, and then seek reinforcements to help repel persistent
pleas for aid from the victims. For the same reason, when a Mundane
was beaten by fellow officers as summary punishment for accidentally
inflicting trivial damage on a cop’s automobile, however, the department
responded in force when the assailants called for “assistance.” 

By coming to
the aid of his friends, Rafael Lopez acted as a peace officer –
an individual who interposed himself to protect innocent people
from criminal violence. Officer Hanson, who fraudulently collects
a tax-funded paycheck for supposedly providing that service, was
studiously indifferent to any consideration apart from his own physical
safety and the institutional needs of his department. This is exactly
what we should expect from a state functionary of his ilk. We should
be grateful to him for offering such a compelling illustration of
the fact that government police agencies are useless – but not harmless.

A more recent
illustration was provided last Thursday (July 26) during
a drug store robbery in Portland, Oregon

Shortly after
noon, Rob Anderson, who owns a computer software store, sauntered
over to nearby Central Drugs to buy some aspirin.

“I didn’t
notice anything until the pharmacist behind the counter yelled for
us to `Get out of here! We’re closed!” Anderson
told the Oregonian
. “I thought that was kind of

Anderson wasn’t
aware that just a few minutes earlier, a robber – later identified
as Jocelin Olson – had entered the store with his hand concealed
in a pocket.

“I have
a gun!” Olson bellowed. He fled with a bag of prescription

Anderson, who
had seen enough to recognize that a robbery was underway, spotted
a uniformed officer in a marked police car, and informed the valiant
defender of the public weal that a robbery was in progress a block
away. The heroic paladin of public order replied that he was off
duty and told Anderson to call 911. He then rolled up his window
and drove away.

“We all
expect a little better from the police in this situation,”
Anderson later recalled, expressing entirely appropriate disgust
– and entirely undeserved confidence in the character and competence
of government law enforcement officers.

While the officer,
in compliance with the Prime Directive of law enforcement, “officer
safety,” was making himself scarce, two employees of the drugstore
– one of whom had obtained his personal firearm – gave chase to
the bandit, eventually tracking him down and arresting him without
the aid of the exalted personages in government-issued official
attire. One of them restrained the suspect (who had only feigned
carrying a gun) in a half-nelson hold until the police tardily arrived.

Portland Police Department refuses to identify the police officer

who fled the scene rather than tangle with an (apparently) armed
robber. That officer would most likely have been as bold as Hector
if he had been dealing with an unarmed 12-year-old girl, or a skinny,
unarmed, mentally handicapped street person. 

Portland Police
Officer Chris Humphreys – who, as we’ll shortly see, is regarded
as exemplary by that department – shot the former at point-blank
range with a beanbag round. In a separate incident,  Humphreys
– with the help of three colleagues – chased down and beat to
death the latter, a 145-pound schizophrenic named James Chasse.  

On another
occasion, Humphreys beat a helpless man 30 times with a baton before
discovering that the victim wasn’t the suspect he was pursuing.

Humphreys was
placed on paid vacation after shooting the 12-year-old girl. That
prompted a complaint from Sgt. Scott Westermann, commissar of the
local police union, who insisted that Humphreys “exemplified
everything one could imagine a police officer should be.” 

Humphreys and
another officer were eventually given two-week suspensions for the
killing of James Chasse – a trivial “punishment” which was reversed
by an arbitrator
exactly two weeks before one of their comrades
helpfully displayed the utter uselessness of the agency that employs

Upset over
public criticism of his tax-funded criminal career, Humphreys filed
for “stress disability,” and his brethren in the police
union – insisting that he had “suffered enough” – held
a rally at City Hall. Each of them wore a custom t-shirts bearing
the unwittingly incriminating inscription: “I Am Chris Humphreys.”

Police departments
exist to enforce the will of the municipal corporations that employ
them. Any actual service they render with respect to the protection
of person and property is incidental to that mission. Fortunately
– albeit tardily – tax victims across the country are finally starting
to understand this fact, as
the financial burden of supporting the state’s enforcement caste
becomes unbearable

U.S. voters have backed generous pay and benefits for the cops and
firefighters willing to risk their lives to keep citizens safe,”
notes a Reuters report (that dutifully regurgitates the official
myth that police departments actually serve the interests of public
safety). “But as economic conditions have worsened and many
local governments have run into severe fiscal problems, that attitude
has started to change. Since the 2007 recession, some cities have
tried to roll back pension benefits and pay, among the most rigid
and, in some cases, highest expenses in municipal budgets.”

A suitable
example is offered by the City of North Las Vegas, which – reeling
from the catastrophic collapse of the real estate market and shackled
by untenable union salary and benefit agreements – has declared
itself an economic “disaster area.” 

“We are
in a fiscal emergency,” City Council Member Wade Wagner told
the Washington Post. “North Las Vegas is ground zero
basically for foreclosures in the nation…. So because our property
taxes have declined so much, we really had to invoke this [emergency

North Las Vegas
spends most of its tax funding (66 percent) on “public safety.”
not as if police officers in that city serve on sacrificial terms
A police officer like Kent Marscheck, whose base salary is $55,000,
can pull down a total of $200,000 a year in overtime and other benefits,
and a police sergeant like Bradley Walch – whose base salary is
$61,000 – can receive more than $237,000 in total compensation. 

city suspended its union contracts with the police and fire department
on June 15
. Predictably, the police union filed
a lawsuit against the city government to prevent layoffs

to the intervention of Sen. Harry Reid
, the Justice Department’s
Community Oriented Policing Services program (COPS) provided a $1.75
million grant to the North Las Vegas Police Department.  This
money will go to pay the partial salaries of 14 officers – if, that
is, the city government can wrangle $3.2 million in matching funds
from the cash-strapped taxpayers or leery bond investors. If this
deal is consummated, the result will be the worst of both worlds
for city residents: They will pay more for a unionized “local” police
force that is effectively controlled by Washington, and entirely
unaccountable to them.

Then again,
all police departments consider themselves unaccountable
to the populations they supposedly serve.

Two years ago,
– who serves as spokesthug for the Albany, New York Police
Officers Union – gave eloquent expression to the disdain the armed
tax-feeders have for the citizens whose paychecks they plunder:
“If I’m the bad guy to the average citizen … and their taxes
have to go up to cover my raise, I’m very sorry about that, but
I have to look out for myself and my membership… As the president
of the `local,’ I will not accept `zeroes’ [no increase in salaries
or benefits]. If that means … ticking off some taxpayers, then
so be it.”

In a public
comment offered at a meeting of the Common Council, an
Albany resident who identified himself as “Justin”
pointed out
that the city’s median annual household income in 2009 was about
$33,000. In the same year, Mesley – who was hired as a patrol officer
in 1992 – received a base salary of $70,289, while also devouring
at least another $30,000 for serving
as union president
. During 2008 and 2009, Mesley’s union contract

provided “retroactive raises” of four percent
; this happened
at time when the productive economy was shrinking and raises of
any kind were practically unheard of by people who, unlike Mesley
and his chums, earn an honest living.

Mesley is making three times or more the median salary and is complaining
that he might not get a raise,” Justin observed. “The sense of entitlement
of Chris Mesley and all those who think alike has led to the pilfering
of state and city coffers. They are like leeches, sucking the taxpayers
dry, and that’s an insult to leeches. At least leeches know when
to let go.”

New York Mayor
Michael Bloomberg played to that inexhaustible sense of entitlement
when he suggested that police nationwide should go on strike until
the law-abiding public disarms itself.

“I don’t
understand why the police officers in this country don’t stand up
collectively and say, `we’re going to go on strike,” Bloomberg
blurted in an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan
. “We’re
not going to protect you unless you – the public – through your
legislature do what’s required to keep us safe. After all, police
officers want to go home to their families.”

Given that
the police don’t protect us, we’d be immeasurably better off if
all of them went home to their families – permanently.

4, 2012

Norman Grigg [send him mail]
publishes the Pro
blog and hosts the Pro
Libertate radio program

© 2012 William Norman Grigg

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