Policing the Police — Breakdown of Video

This morning I was poking around my usual news sites and came across the following video of a police officer ‘arresting’ a nurse that refused to draw blood on an unconscious patient, citing the hospital policy.

In the comments section there is a very black and white discussion — she’s wrong, she’s right, etc.  From what I can tell she’s right and here’s why:

  1. She cites the hospital policy, which she explains what was agreed to between the police and the hospital.  Also, that policy most likely was vetted by the hospital’s legal team.
  2. The police didn’t seem to really have any law to cite, they just claimed it was law and that she had no knowledge of why they wanted the blood. But:
    1. Laws change
    2. Police don’t have all laws memorized
    3. Police are not legal experts either
  3. They claim she’s playing ‘lawyer’.
    1. This is an odd statement, because in this case, they both are playing lawyer.
  4. The police chief, when asked by the gentleman in the white shirt to talk to the policy department on the phone claims he doesn’t need to speak to them because (as he puts it) “my laws” and your policy to don’t match.  Verbally, he basically claims ownership over the law.
    1. This is just ridiculous – police don’t OWN THE LAW
      1. They don’t write law
      2. They don’t ‘enforce’ law — i.e. prevent laws from happening.
      3. They only make arrests when a law has potentially been broken
        1. This is really at an attempt at prevention through fear of criminal prosecution for breaking laws.

I don’t disagree with the reason the police want this guy’s blood — if he was on something as part of a fatal motor vehicle accident, that’s evidence they would want.  However, I would think (not being a lawyer myself) that unless any of the following are true, they are not legally allowed to collect that evidence.

  1. The person of interest has already been arrested and marandized (as the hospital policy mentions and the police don’t confirm in the video),
  2. The police have a warrant (again in the policy and this was obviously not the case in the video)
  3. Police have procured the person’s fully informed approval (again in the hospital policy, and impossible given the person’s current state

I would guess the fourth amendment applies in this instance, as it’s a search for evidence from the person’s body.  If so there is precedent that the police are not following the constitutional rights of the unconscious person.  This precedence is set in Missouri v McNeely.

So that’s that about the blood draw issue, to the general issue of out of control police officers, or officers acting unprofessionally, etc, people seem to think of this as a new phenomenon.   Just consider the following:

In 1982, the federal government funded a “Police Services Study,” in which 12,022 randomly selected citizens were interviewed in three metropolitan areas. The study found that 13.6 percent of those surveyed had cause to complain about police service in the previous year (this included verbal abuse and discourtesy, as well as physical force). Yet, only 30 percent of the people filed formal complaints. In other words, most instances of police abuse go unreported. (ACLU website)

The only real difference between incidents in the past and now is social media and awareness.  My best guess is, this happened all the time (or at least with the same frequency as today as before social media), it just didn’t get national press coverage unless it was severe or controversial in any way.

Today, all rogue, extreme, or unprofessional police actions have a good chance of being caught on camera, be that by body camera (records from such should be public documents and easily accessible in my opinions) or other devices.

So we are more aware of police actions and misconduct, some of which (like case above) have become common practice as a result of years of breaking the constitution, either intentionally or innocently though ignorance.  The best way to combat this entrenched malpractice by law enforcement is for citizens to become more aware of the laws, so if one finds themselves in this type of situation, they can address it with knowledge of the printed statute.

A lot of people just accept the word of authority figures (which the police certainly are) without question or hesitation — either out of respect, fear, or ignorance of thier rights and the law and I am one of those people.

This is a very interesting video to consider how policing is conducted in some instances and how people should inform themselves of laws to better interact with police when thier professional duties potentially clash with requests from police.

Only by knowing the law can police circumvention of the law be stopped — whether that circumvention is willful or done out of habit.

 

 

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