Thursday, April 06, 2006

The NOPD needs to be changed immediately

I'm not sure if this is getting national airtime, but there has been another allegation of police brutality here in New Orleans (registration required).

The Pratts refused to discuss the matter, but [Dulcie] Pratt's mother-in-law Scott [Pratt's mother-in-law] said [Jonie] Pratt was returning from visiting her sick father in Baton Rouge early Tuesday when police said she ran a stop sign about two blocks from her house. The woman drove to her house in a middle-class area of the city before pulling over.

"I saw an officer pull Jonie out of the car by her hair," said Scott, who was baby-sitting her grandchildren at the couple's house. "He was swearing at her and pounding her into the car. I said, `Stop that, that's Officer Pratt's wife."'

Scott said the officer twisted Pratt's arms behind her and sprayed Mace in her face. She said two more white officers arrived and the three shoved the 5-foot-2 Pratt to the ground and knelt on her back, and an officer kicked her in the head.

I have no doubt that this happened; however, I don't believe that this is a racial issue. New Orleans police officers don't restrict themselves to beating up people of one particular race. They will intimidate, bully and brutalize anyone they want - white, black, male or female. And it happens more often than is reported.

How do I know this for fact? Because it happened to two members of my family last year (I'll call them Betty and Bob). Her offense? Asking a cop for his badge number.

Betty was picking up Bob from work since he had just had surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder. Since he worked at a hospital, she was going to pick him up at the emergency entrance drive-up (just as she had numerous times before). This particular day, there was a cop blocking traffic at the entrance. She explained that she was picking up her husband and he told her rudely, "I don't care. Move your car. No one can come this way." Since she worked at a hospital, too, she knew that the cop couldn't block all of the traffic and said, "You can't cut-off all traffic to the emergency entrance." He said something like, "I'm a cop. I said move. I don't have to explain anything to you." According to Betty, he was unbelievably rude, so she asked for his badge number. To this he replied, "I don't have to give you anything." She parked her car and again went to the cop to ask for his badge number. Again he refused and told her to go back to her car and get out of here. She went back to her car to wait for Bob to come out of the hospital and the next thing she knows, this cop is banging on her window telling her to get out of the car. She rolled down the window to tell the cop that she was waiting for her husband. He starts to open her car door and pull her out, demanding to see her driver's license and registration. She starts to argue that she has done nothing wrong and refuses to give him this unless he give her his badge number. At this, he pulls her out of the car and throws her on the ground and tells her she is under arrest. Meanwhile, her daughter is in the backseat watching this happen.

The cop calls for back-up and more cops start coming. Betty was thrown up against the car and handcuffed. While this is happening, Bob, who had had shoulder surgery just two weeks before and whose arm is still in a sling, comes out of the hospital and sees his wife being roughed up by a bunch of police officers. He immediately starts demanding to know what is going on. I guess they see Bob and a threat and a police officer throws him against a wall and pull his arms behind his back and handcuff him, too.

Bob and Betty were arrested for resisting arrest. Obviously, they are fighting this. When it happened, I told them to go to the press, but Betty was so upset and embarrassed that she just wanted it all over with.

Ever since this happened, I have heard more and more stories like it. I would love to see the NOPD purged of this egotistical, power-hungry officers, but I'm afraid New Orleans wouldn't have any more cops.

We teach our children that the police are the good guys fighting the bad, but what happens when the police are the bad guys fighting the good? Who is going to protect us for the police?