In recent news, there have been several instances of demonstrations and riots resulting from allegations of police brutality. In cities like New York and Ferguson, there are many accounts and view points but there is still much to debate about the facts. On this episode of Lawyer 2 Lawyer, host Bob Ambrogi interviews Amy Goodman...
Lawyer 2 Lawyer
Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of the award winning show Democracy Now! which airs on over 1,200...
Sgt. Delroy Burton is the Chairman for DC Police Union and has been a police officer since August 1994. He worked...
Bob Ambrogi is a lawyer, legal journalist, and the publisher and editor-in-chief of LexBlog.com. A former co-host of Lawyer...
J. Craig Williams is admitted to practice law in Iowa, California, Massachusetts, and Washington. Before attending law school, his...
In recent news, there have been several instances of demonstrations and riots resulting from allegations of police brutality. In cities like New York and Ferguson, there are many accounts and view points but there is still much to debate about the facts. On this episode of Lawyer 2 Lawyer, host Bob Ambrogi interviews Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! and Sgt. Delroy Burton from DC Police Union. Together they discuss the perceptions and procedures of police as they use force to make arrests. Tune in to hear about why citizens shouldn’t resist arrests as well as opinions about the use of military equipment for police work.
Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of the award winning show Democracy Now! which airs on over 1,200 public television and radio stations worldwide. In addition, she has authored many best selling books including The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope. Ms. Goodman is the recipient of many prestigious awards such as the Right Livelihood Award, James Aronson Award for Social Justice Reporting, and many many more.
Sgt. Delroy Burton is the Chairman for DC Police Union and has been a police officer since August 1994. He worked many patrol assignments that required specialized training including alcohol enforcement, pulse Doppler radar, and police motorcycles. Sergeant Burton worked as a vice investigator prior to becoming detective and later became sergeant. He began working for DC Police Union in 2006 and was elected union chairman in 2013 with his term beginning in April of 2014.
Special thanks to our sponsor, Clio.
Lawyer 2 Lawyer
Lawful Arrest or Excessive Use of Force: Today’s Perceptions about Militarized Police
Amy Goodman: I don’t think it’s just the residents of Ferguson who were horrified; it was people all over the country, they watched as hour after hour he lay face down in his own blood.
Sgt. Delroy Burton: Unfortunately, most of the public get their information about police officers from television. When the public is inundated with the negative the way that they have been and get very little of the positive, any negative action by one, it’s painted to all.
Intro: Welcome to the award-winning podcast Lawyer 2 Lawyer with J. Craig Williams and Robert Ambrogi, bringing you the latest legal news and observations with the leading experts in the legal profession.
You are listening to Legal Talk Network.
Bob Ambrogi: Hello and welcome to Lawyer 2 Lawyer on the Legal Talk Network. This is Bob Ambrogi, coming to you from just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, where I write a blog called LawSites, and also another blog called Media Law.
My co-host J. Craig Williams is not with us today. As you know, he typically joins us from Southern California where he writes a blog called May It Please the Court.
And before we introduce today’s topic, I would like to just take one moment to thank our sponsor Clio, the online practice management software for lawyers available at HYPERLINK “www.goclio.com” www.goclio.com. Clio is about to be hosting their annual Clio Cloud Conference in Chicago on September 22. If you would like to learn more about this great event, go to HYPERLINK “cliocloudconference.com” cliocloudconference.com. I can tell you, I was there last year, and it really was a really remarkably successful event.
Just also a side note, that this program marks our 10th year of recording this podcast. We started this in September of 2005. As far as I know, we are the longest running law related podcast out there and hope to keep going for many more years to go.
So in today’s show we are going to be talking about the question of police brutality. We have heard a lot about this in the news lately. There have been demonstrations, looting and rioting about what some are calling excessive police brutality. I suppose police brutality by definition is excessive, but has there been a rise in police brutality? Are we seeing more of it? Is it focused at particular minority groups or individuals of color?
There have been many questions raised also about whether police departments are engaging in excessive use of force to enforce the law or whether they have become overly militarized?
So we are going to talk about this topic today with two guests. Joining us first of all is Amy Goodman. Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of the award-winning show Democracy Now! It airs on over 1,200 public television and radio stations worldwide. In addition, she has authored many best-selling books, including ‘The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope’.
Amy Goodman is the recipient of prestigious awards, including the Right Livelihood Award, The James Aronson Award for Social Justice Reporting and many others.
Welcome to Lawyer 2 Lawyer Amy Goodman.
Amy Goodman: It’s great to be with you.
Bob Ambrogi: Thank you. Also joining us today is Sergeant Delroy Burton. Sergeant Burton is Chairman for the DC Police Union and has been a police officer since August of 1994.
He has worked many patrol assignments that required specialized training, including alcohol enforcement, pulse-Doppler radar and police motorcycles. He worked as a vice investigator prior to becoming a detective and then Sergeant. He began working for the DC Police Union in 2006 and was elected Union Chairman in 2013, with his term beginning in April of 2014.
Welcome to Lawyer 2 Lawyer Sergeant Burton.
Sgt. Delroy Burton: Thank you very much for having me.
Bob Ambrogi: Thanks for being with us. And just to get the discussion started today, we are going to play a brief clip. This is a sound bite from a recent interview with HYPERLINK “www.truth-out.org” www.truth-out.org reporter Mike Ludwig, who spent several days in the Ferguson, Missouri. Let’s please play that clip.
Mike Ludwig: I think that we have an epidemic of excessive force by police and police are reaching their authority, not just in St. Louis, but across the country. Yeah, the tensions in Ferguson have been building for a really long time. The militarized police presence helped escalate that tension between the protestors and the police.
I don’t know if it would have reached the point of people dragging stuff in the street and throwing Molotov cocktails if the cops had not had a militarized presence to begin with.
Bob Ambrogi: Well, referring of course to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri which raised significant uproar there and brought national attention on that incident.
Amy Goodman, what’s your reaction to that clip? Do you think there has been a rise in excessive use of force by police departments? Are police becoming too militaristic in your opinion?
Amy Goodman: Well, these are all critical discussions we have to have in this country. I also was in Ferguson covering what was taking place, everything from — we have to look back at what happened on August 9th when Michael Brown ended up dead on the street and left there for four-and-a-half hours as police were all around him, but so was the community, it was a residential neighborhood, and to the horrified community, they watched as hour after hour he lay face down in his own blood.
And then you move on from that and the protests and the response of the police, and I don’t think it’s just the residents of Ferguson who were horrified, it was people all over the country. In fact, police chiefs as well are saying this was highly irregular, and I think the discussion is critical, are the police in this country or this full issue of police brutality and how are police held accountable?
It does no policeman good in this country when there are so-called bad apples, because it contaminates every one. I think that good police officers; I am speaking to you from New York City, good police officers all over the country care about community, and they are deeply concerned, like any of us in our own communities, about those that are not representing real law and order, and that second issue, the issue of the militarization of police.
I am surprised it has taken so long for us to discuss this issue. We have seen it for a long time in the streets that you have this trend, as the US has been engaged in wars abroad, from Iraq to Afghanistan, for the Pentagon to recycle their equipment. It comes home and they start giving it to towns, villages and cities all over the country, which makes the police forces of our country look like an occupying force, and that is a very serious issue.
We have a law in the United States called posse comitatus, where we accept and this isn’t any political persuasion, I think people across the political spectrum accept this law that says that soldiers shouldn’t be marching down the streets of the United States. And I think the way authorities have gotten around this is by militarizing the police, and that is a very big problem and exacerbates heated situations like we see in Ferguson.
Bob Ambrogi: Let me hear from Sgt. Burton and ask for your reaction to that sound bite that we just played. What’s your opinion on these issues?
Sgt. Delroy Burton: Well, the characterization that there is an epidemic of excessive force being used by police departments around the country, I don’t accept that characterization that was used in the sound bite. Are there instances of police brutality and excessive force, absolutely there are, and they should be appropriately investigated, and when police officers are found to have violated their oath and done something inappropriate, they should be punished in accordance with what the rules governing that jurisdiction say how they should be punished. But to characterize it as an epidemic, I think does a disservice to all police officers all across the country.
Some other parts of the comments I found a little bit odd also is that it blames the police department, the equipment that they use as to why the riots or part of the rioting happened in Ferguson. I wasn’t there, so I can’t say that uniforms or what they wore had something to do with it. But if you look historically when we had riots, we had one here in the Washington DC back in 1991, police weren’t wearing that kind of equipment.
The riots in Miami, Overtown, 1982, 1989, the riots in Seattle during the World Trade Organization meetings in 1999, the uniforms that those officers were wearing had nothing to do with it. What I think some of the things that Ms. Goodman pointed out is that you had an underlying set of tension between the community, all those communities that I just discussed, with their government and particularly with the police department.
And then you had a specific incident that occurred, that sparked the anger of the community and it boiled over into violence. So the epidemic of police excessive force I don’t accept and the premise that militarization is the reason I also do not accept.
Now I will say police are using a lot more military equipment, that’s true; however, remember — and I think Ms. Goodman pointed to this very well, the purpose of the police department and the purpose of the military are completely different. I happened to have both feet in both sides. I’m a policeman and I spent 20 years in the Marine Corps half of it in Reserves and half on Active Duty, and my job as a policeman is to preserve the peace, arrest violators of the law, protect people’s property, and my job as a Marine was to seek out close with and destroy the enemy. And I don’t see my community as an enemy. So I’m not going to seek them out, destroy them. So the two are completely different and when we start characterizing police officers that way, it sets people on the mindset that these guys are coming into my community and they are my enemy and then you see the response as any community would when the enemy invades.
So I think the rhetoric that we use and the descriptions that we use, those words have an impact, and when things boil over, it really, really turns sour for those of us in uniform.
Bob Ambrogi: Well — but these were driven in part by the visual, at least in the Ferguson case, I mean we were getting the visuals on the TV news of this military-style equipment, heavy armored equipment being used in the streets there, so it went beyond rhetoric.
Sgt. Delroy Burton: That was after the thing that Ms. Goodman described about the incident that took Mr. Brown’s life, that everything that inflamed that community, the fact that he was killed their perception of how he was treated after he was killed and everything else that preceded that incident, it all boiled over. And when it all boiled over the police responded and did they respond as an occupying military force, did they come through and start shooting people, which is what an army does, but the police I think even after things exploded, I think they exercised significant restraint.
Bob Ambrogi: Yep.
Amy Goodman: Well, in the case of Ferguson I would hate to see what excessive force was if that was restraint, and unfortunately, I think we saw serious excessive force. I was talking to a minister at a local church. She was shot in the stomach with a rubber bullet. She was there to keep peace. I mean, we see the video, and I think it’s interesting that Sergeant Burton talked about my community, saying the words “my community”, I think Sergeant Burton, you feel differently about your community, you’re making a very critical distinction between being a marine and then being a police officer in these streets. I dare say that many of the officers in Ferguson would not have talked about “my community” because they don’t see it as their community. It is clearly look at the racial divide there, you have a community that very much transitioned from a largely White community decades ago to an overwhelmingly Black community, but the police force does not reflect that at all, the White power structure in Ferguson does not reflect that at all, the School Board, the City Council, just the police force itself, there were 53 police officers on the Ferguson City Police Department, only three of them were officers of color.
This is a very big problem and then you add to that the APC, the Armored Personnel Carrier, and the reason we see any of this is because of video, and that was so important. Finally, you had a number of days later with an officer with an automatic weapon pointing it at the crowd, because it was videoed he ends up being suspended, but I think that was very rare in Ferguson.
Bob Ambrogi: Well, that begs a question, I mean, again, we’re hearing a lot of talk about the idea that there has been an increase in violent incidents evolving police or police brutality, is that in part attributable to social media to the availability of cameras on everyone’s phone, to the fact that that it’s easier to capture this stuff as it’s happening? I mean, do we have any evidence that this is really happening anymore than it ever has or are we just learning about it more frequently?
Sgt. Delroy Burton: I don’t know if it’s happening anymore than it ever has. I think as with a lot of stuff that happens when you have the ability for technology to get you more information, you see more frequently, so the perception could be that it’s happening more frequently because we now have more video evidence of interactions between police officers and the citizens that we’re supposed to protect and so it could be viewed like there’s more.
I don’t necessarily believe there’s more, I don’t think the statistics that are available say that there’s more but people are much more aware of it because of the everyone that’s walking around now is a potential news camera person because they can capture images of all the interactions with police officers and citizens either on cellphone cameras, on building security cameras, on cameras installed by the police themselves, traffic cameras. So the ability to capture those images and make it appear that there may be more, I don’t necessarily think the statistics bear out that there are more.
Bob Ambrogi: 15:42 I mean, is there any —
Amy Goodman: The issue of video cameras, it’s so important because I flew right from Ferguson, Missouri to Staten Island because in Staten Island there was a major protest against the illegal police chokehold that killed Eric Garner and that happened on July 17th but the massive protest took place. Well, right, in the midst of the protest in Ferguson there were thousands of people who were there.
Now the reason we know what happened on July 17th is because a young man just feet away had a cellphone and he filmed the police taking this 43-year-old African-American, father of six down in this illegal police chokehold. The police report at the time did not say anything about a chokehold. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association disputed at the Union here in New York, but the video showed clearly so much so that the Police Chief, Bill Bratton, held a news conference right afterwards and said, we have to retrain our police force from the bottom up, you saw very clearly this man taken down from — the chokehold put on him, he is brought down to the ground and 11 times you hear him very clearly in this video saying, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” It’s terribly frightening. The reason we know what happened is because there was that video.
Now this is a very important issue and there are lawsuits and laws around the country that are being passed and also filed around the issue of whether civilians can film police. I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult in fact in this case in Staten Island, no sooner have the coroner ruled the death of Mr. Garner homicide that Ramsey Orta, the young man who filmed what happened to Garner was arrested, no police officer was arrested, but the guy who filmed was arrested and that just brings us very important issues on a different issue he was arrested but many felt of that – yes, yes, no, but let me make this point — he was arrested for an old weapons charge but it was — he was arrested after this was — this case was ruled a homicide. Now what we had on Democracy Now was a legal secretary, a woman who had just filed a suit a few days before Garner was killed, she was a legal secretary came home from work on the Upper West Side of New York and she started filming what she saw as a police infraction, her name was interestingly Goodman like my own, but she’s filming, and before she knows it, she was arrested and held for 24 hours.
Now I think we have to have a discussion around the country or what are the rights of civilians to film police interactions, and that’s a very important discussion to have.
Bob Ambrogi: We’ve had a ruling on that issue in Massachusetts where I am because that has happened in the First Circuit here has ruled that citizens do have a right to film a police interaction.
Sgt. Delroy Burton: You can see in Washington, D.C.
Bob Ambrogi: I need to just take a break right here. We’re going to hear a short word from our sponsor, please stay with us, we’ll be back in just a few minutes.
Kate Kenny: Hi, my name is Kate Kenny from Legal Talk Network and I’m joined by Jack Newton, President of Clio. Jack takes a look at the process of moving to the cloud.
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Bob Ambrogi: Welcome back to Lawyer 2 Lawyer on the Legal Talk Network, this is Bob Ambrogi and I am joined today by two guests, Amy Goodman; host and executive producer of the award-winning show ‘Democracy Now’ and Sgt. Delroy Burton; chairman for the DC Police Union, and we are talking about whether there has been an increase in police brutality in this country, and I want to just play another clip here. This one is a short audio clip from Patrick Lynch, President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of New York City. Let’s roll that.
Patrick Lynch: There is an attitude on our city streets today that it is acceptable to resist arrest. That attitude is a direct result of the lack of respect for law enforcement, resulting from the slanderous, insulting, and unjust manner in which police officers are being portrayed by race-baiters, politicians, pundits and even our elected officials. It’s a serious crime and it must be treated that way by all.
New York City police officers have every right to expect to go home safely and without injury at the end of their tour.
It is outrageously insulting to all police officers to say that we go out on our streets to choke people of color.
Bob Ambrogi: Sgt. Burton, your reaction to that clip.
Sgt. Delroy Burton: Well, a lot of my members and a lot of police officers that I know identify with what Mr. Lynch is saying in terms of the way police officers are portrayed. Unfortunately, most of the public get their information about police officers from television and television programs that depict what they believe police work is and how we do our work.
And that unrealistic portrayal clouds how they view when something happens and when something controversial happens, then all of those things come bubbling to the surface and we’re all either despicable individuals as the stuff that Mr. Lynch was complaining about or one other spectrum we are either heroes or we are despicable on the other end. And in between where you have average people doing a very difficult job, sometimes with very serious consequences and either injury to themselves or death and it’s really, really hard and what he says about resisting arrest is true.
Even if a policeman is doing something improper, if the arrest is illegal and unconstitutional, what I would recommend to the public and I have done this with individuals in my community is, listen, the place to have the war with that patrolman is not on the street because it’s a losing proposition. You’ll end up getting arrested, the charges will probably be dismissed later on but the appropriate thing to do is to cooperate with that arrest and then take the appropriate action because there are a number ways to battle or to fight against an inappropriate arrest particularly here in Washington, DC, we have the Office of Police Complaints, there is the Internal Affairs Division, they can take civil action and there are just a number of ways to deal with that particular individual and our department is very responsive to dealing with those types of complaints.
And as a union, we don’t advocate that type of behavior, but we would certainly advise anybody that if someone is going to arrest you and they tell you that you’re under arrest, the best course of action is to cooperate and then if the policeman did something wrong use those avenues to try to get the situation resolved but to fight with a policeman on the street is going to end up with a bad result.
Amy Goodman: Of course the problem with that, I mean that sounds reasonable except in the case for example of Mr. Eric Garner since we all saw it on videotape and he did not have that chance afterwards to challenge his own arrest, he was taken down immediately.
Sgt. Delroy Burton: Yeah, but he fought with the police officers, Ms. Goodman.
Amy Goodman: If you look at — that was hardly any — if you look at the video, he is brought down in that chokehold so badly.
Sgt. Delroy Burton: Because he did not comply with the policeman’s instructions, had he complied —
Amy Goodman: He was.
Sgt. Delroy Burton: Just a moment, please, the issue here in the question was about resisting arrest and the way people are portrayed and the way police are portrayed. Now, we can have all the discussions we want about the way police are portrayed, but in terms of not complying with the instructions of the police officers, to put your hands behind your back, you are under-arrest, and then a physical altercation ensues the resisting of the arrest caused the problem to get out of control, which is something we don’t want to do, we don’t want to get out of control, we want to maintain control of that situation.
Amy Goodman: I think he was very surprised because the police officer came up from behind him and he had his hands up and he was backing up against a store, I was just at that store, a beauty spa in Staten Island saying, “You are going to arrest me?”
I can speak from my own personal experience and this goes to another issue that this is how journalists are treated by police at the Republican Convention in St. Paul, the first day in 2008, we were covering the protest outside and that’s always a tough situation, they were thousands of people, they were protesting against the war in Iraq at the time, they protested the Denver Convention, and then in St. Paul, and we were just covering it.
I was on the convention floor interviewing delegates but I got a call that two of my colleagues — a very peaceful protest was taking place outside, had been arrested by police. I was completely shocked and they said I better get to the site. They had also been beaten they said. So I came off the floor of the convention, I raced over to the corner, I was told, I didn’t know this area and there was a line of riot police officers, they had fully contained the area. And I went to an officer and I said, I would like to speak to your commander, we have two of our reporters who apparently were arrested and I need to have them released. It wasn’t second before they twisted my hands behind my back, threw me through the police line and arrested me.
Now, in my case, fortunately this was videotaped by many journalists. Ultimately, as Sgt. Burton was saying, you have to deal with the arrest and then afterwards you have to contend with it, we had to do our work and that’s very hard for journalists, more than 40 of them were arrested at the convention, the Republican Convention that week.
It’s very tough to do your work when you are in a jail cell, but we sued the St. Paul police and the Minneapolis police because there were many levels of police as well as the Secret Service who were working with them and we ultimately wanted major settlement but the videotape showed at the deposition, when I came up to the police officer and they contended I hurled myself through the line, the lawyer said to him, show where she hurled, did we see where she stopped and said officer, can I speak to your commanding officer? You show us on the videotape where she moved from that place and at that point, when obviously confronted the videotape, the officer said I guess I was mistaken.
Bob Ambrogi: In preparing for this show, I came across a U.S. Department of Justice study that’s looked and talked to police officers, now this is from 2000, so it’s a little bit old but this study said that 84% of police officers said that they had seen another officer use more force than necessary in making an arrest.
One of the things the public hears a lot about with police officers is there is this sort of code of silence as they talk about it, that police officers protect each other in these circumstances.
Sgt. Burton, what do you say about that? What are police departments doing to ensure that police officers know what level of force is appropriate, know how to use force, and then are made accountable when they do use excessive force?
Sgt. Delroy Burton: One of the things that is bothersome to me as a policeman is that police officers always categorize a way that Ms. Goodman just did, how police treats journalists, it’s how those police officers in that particular situation treated you and your colleagues, and I can’t speak to it because I wasn’t there but all the police officers didn’t do that.
And when we categorize police officers that way, any negative action by one gets painted to all. So we need to be very careful when we do those types of things. As to what training you get, the larger the police department, you tend to have very, very training. Here in Washington, DC we use the use of force continuum, there are statutory limits on the types of techniques that we can use and we are taught that you don’t have to necessarily meet the level of force that are at the level that you are facing, you can go one step above, but the rule generally is, the minimum amount of force necessary to affect the arrest.
And one of the things we teach and we harp on all the time is that abuse begins where resistance ends. So if the person is not resisting and you are still applying force, that’s unnecessary and un-needed force and the police department here disciplines quite heavily for usage of excessive force. We have an independent agency called the Office of Police Complaints that’s empowered to investigate allegations of excessive force. And that’s something we take seriously, officers have the responsibility under DC law to report that kind of stuff.
For example, if I witness someone engage in excessive force or what would be a criminal act and I don’t act to either place that person under arrest or report that person, I have just violated a law here in DC.
So I think unfortunately it’s not uniform across all of policing, that is true, but the larger the agency, you tend to have much better training, more consistent training and in areas, in rural areas where it’s small police departments, they generally all have a consortium for training, where if it’s a 20-men police force, 50-men police force, the larger agency is responsible for training all of the police officers in that region through a collaborative effort.
So, one of the things that would probably be more helpful is consistent refresher training and consistent reinforcement, not only of the policy, but of those physical skills, because skills deteriorate. And when you first come out of the police academy, you are very good with most of those skills, you are in very, very good shape, but over time, as you go through your career, while they — in a lot of places you are reminded of the policy, the reinforcement of those physical skills is not part of the ongoing training, and so those skills tend to deteriorate.
And if I would make any recommendation to all those police officers out there and to agencies that are looking to reform their policies is that they add the repetition of the physical skill component to their reinforcement of their policy, because that makes a very, very big difference in the application of force.
Bob Ambrogi: All right Amy, what about you, you have clearly seen instances where it’s looked to you that the police were misusing their arrest power or were using too much force, what should be done about this? Are there policy measures that should be implemented, is this something that has to be handled on a local police department by police department basis or how should we be responding to this?
Amy Goodman: Well, at the protest in Staten Island that I was covering there was an interesting poster that people were holding. It said Support NYPD, that’s the New York Police Department, Support NYPD and Police Brutality. And I would dare say that Sgt. Burton would agree with that, that excessive force threatens police departments as well, not just the community, because it does make all police officers, their job more difficult, because when people are afraid of the police, it is very hard to have a constructive relationship.
On the issue of policy, I think where we started, Bob, the issue of the militarization of police is one that I think we agree in a civilian society we have to reassess what police departments are getting.
On the issue of monitoring police, there is a very interesting debate to be had around this issue of videoing, not only civilians’ videoing police, but whether police departments should have their own video cams. I understand that the Ferguson Police Department was just given by two private companies cameras that they were armed with this past weekend. But that is very important to have police work documented and to understand that police officers are peace officers, they are there to keep the peace, and it is also very important that journalists not be viewed by the police as their opponents.
I will cover a protest in New York and a police officer will come over to me and say, hey, thanks for being here, because it also protects them. There are many, many good, conscientious police officers who are there because it’s their community as well, and they know it doesn’t help when officers use excessive force.
But it’s so important that journalists be allowed to function freely, to ensure that dissent can be expressed without people being afraid, because I really do think dissent is what will save democracy.
Sgt. Delroy Burton: In terms of journalists and doing their job, the big part of the issue is the sensational story gets covered, it always has, it probably always will, but the mundane day to day operations and the good work of police officers are not going to be on the news night after night after night, like something as controversial as Ferguson or the death of the gentleman in New York. So it’s an uneven coverage and information about what we do as police officers, so when the public is inundated with the negative, the way that they have been and get very little of the positive, it changes their view, and I think in a negative way, and I don’t know if that’s helpful.
Bob Ambrogi: All right, we are just about out of time and I do like to give each of you an opportunity to share our closing thought on this topic and also invite you to let our listeners know how they can follow up with you if they would like to do that.
So Amy, let’s start with you.
Amy Goodman: Well, I encourage people to go to HYPERLINK “http://www.democracynow.org” democracynow.org, it’s our website, and we are a daily global public news hour, and we discuss these issues everyday, and I think that’s what is absolutely critical. We clearly need new policies, we need new laws, there needs to be new relationships in communities between police and civilians. And it’s going to happen. I mean, in a democratic society it has to be a very vigorous discussion that includes all sides.
Bob Ambrogi: Thank you very much. Sergeant, go ahead.
Sgt. Delroy Burton: I can be reached at the HYPERLINK “http://www.dcpoliceunion.com” dcpoliceunion.com or HYPERLINK “http://www.crimedc.com” www.crimedc.com, that’s our website that distributes information about crime in Washington DC, or my office at DC Police Union, 202-548-8300.
And I concur with some of what Amy says in terms of the discussion, I think one of the failures of policing is that we haven’t done a very good job of explaining to people how we do what we do and why we do it. So I would encourage everybody out there, not to be afraid of their police departments, to engage and get involved, because we serve you, and the more you know, the more you know about what we do and how we do it and why we do it, the easier it will be for us to do our jobs and the easier it will be for the public to understand why something happened, the techniques that were being used.
So information is the key, engagement is the key. Ma be some legislative changes are necessary, but if the conversation has to be had, and I don’t think we need to try to have it when something controversial is happening, because emotions are through the roof, we have to have that conversation after the emotion subsides so we can look at it and make the decisions and the right types of changes.
Bob Ambrogi: Well, good comments from both of you. I should note that many, many years ago in my career I was a labor union attorney who represented police unions, and I represented a number of police officers, and I certainly believe that the vast majority of police officers out there are, as Amy said, conscientious, concerned members of their communities. And whether this is a problem that’s on the rise, whether we are just more aware of it, I am not sure what the answer is, but I really appreciate both of you having joined us today and shared your insights and observations about this. So thanks a lot to both of you for being with us today.
Amy Goodman: Thank you very much.
Sgt. Delroy Burton: Thank you for having me.
Bob Ambrogi: Thanks. And that wraps up this episode of Lawyer 2 Lawyer. We will be back again in two weeks with another program. Thanks for joining for us. And remember, when you want legal, think Lawyer 2 Lawyer.
Outro: Thanks for listening to Lawyer 2 Lawyer, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join J. Craig Williams and Robert Ambrogi for their next podcast, covering the latest legal topic. Subscribe to the RSS feed on HYPERLINK “http://www.legaltalknetwork.com” legaltalknetwork.com or in iTunes.
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Lawyer 2 Lawyer is a legal affairs podcast covering contemporary and relevant issues in the news with a legal perspective.
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