Like it or not, we do not live in a perfect world. Day in and day out, law abiding citizens all across the country are stopped on our nation’s roadways and arrested for any number of offenses for which the charges are later dropped or dismissed in a court of law. For those who have their cases thrown out by a traffic judge, the relief is often accompanied by anger or resentment because of the trouble and cost of defending their good name when they knew all along that they were innocent of the charges. For others — those who can’t avoid the points, monetary penalties or other punishment ordered by the court — they can usually appeal their case to a higher court.
The point we wish to make here is that nobody is perfect, and that goes as much for the men and women in law enforcement as it does anyone else in our modern society. It’s only natural that human beings come with their own set of shortcomings. Mostly, we ignore the less serious failings — in terms of judgment or actions — of our friends and family knowing that they mean well even though their decisions and choices can sometimes be arrived at through faulty or imperfect logic. For others, we often expect perfection, though this is often only wishful thinking.
Police officers and others in authority tend to be seen by a large portion of the general public as having a god-like infallibility. Living up to this standard would be hard enough for the average person, much less someone who is charged with maintaining the safety and well-being of the citizenry. When a police officer, judge, or city, state or federal official fails to meet the public’s expectations of them, there is usually a backlash.
One of the many complaints against the police is that people feel singled out from the crowd for one reason or another. On the road, this is sometimes referred to as driving while black or some other ethnic or racial identifier. In any situation, it is hardly defensible since the law requires people to be judged based on their actions, not on their racial, religious or ethnic origins. Yet, over and over again, the courts field complaints from people arrested for alleged criminal behavior and even civil infractions because the defendant believed that the arresting officer used racial or ethnic profiling as the basis for his or her arrest.
Take the news report from last month in which an Arizona resident was accused of driving his vehicle while under the influence simply because the patrolman thought he looked drunk. According to news stories, the 64-year-old retired firefighter said that he had not been drinking prior to being pulled over by police one late evening in Surprise, AZ. Apparently, the only evidence needed by the arresting officer was to look into the motorist’s eyes, which may have been red because the man had been swimming earlier that evening.
Ordered to perform a field sobriety test, then handcuffed and taken into custody, the man was transported to police headquarters for a breathalyzer test, which then confirmed that his blood-alcohol content was 0.00 percent. Even the department’s drug recognition expert told the driver that he would never have arrested him since he exhibited no signs of impairment. The bottom line, according to the motorist, was that he was simply “driving while black.” Based on the news articles we saw, the man has already been stopped by police 10 times in Surprise (resulting in four citations) since moving with his wife from their former home in Ohio to the local retirement community.
Part of the problem may be that the retired fireman has assumed his still-working wife’s schedule (she’s an emergency room nurse with 12-hour shifts), which has resulted in later hours for the couple and apparently more than their fair share of alleged harassment from the local police. But this is no reason for anyone to be pulled with the frequency that would appear to be occurring here.
Needless to say, with nearly a dozen police stops so far, the retiree has retained an attorney and is set to sue the police department. In addition to having his vehicle impounded over the course of a weekend and having his license suspended due to the apparently bogus DWI charges, the state has also ordered the man to attend mandatory DWI class, according to reports.
Although the latest drunken driving charge was dropped by the police, the victim’s lawyer stated that the gesture was not sufficient to change his client’s mind about suing the police for harassment. We’ll have to see what transpires over time, but one can only assume this is not an isolated incident.
Man charged with DUI despite documents showing blood alcohol content of 0.000; WXYZ.com; June 9, 2013
Sober man arrested for DUI because cop thought he looked drunk, MSN.com, June 10, 2013