by Derek Gilna
Trenton, New Jersey, police officers were captured on video making light of using flashlights to subdue suspects and ridiculing a critically injured gunshot victim suffering from a head wound.
All of the incriminating comments were captured on the body camera of supervisor and Trenton police Sgt. Charles Lamin, who attempted to squelch the remarks by his fellow officers.
According to Trenton police officer Tim Miller, you have to go for the “major muscle groups,” referring to striking suspects with the large flashlight officers normally carry, to subdue them. Miller told fellow officer Gloria Garcia that to subdue suspects, you needed to use “veteran moves.”
Officer Lamin said, “I ain’t sending anyone to the hospital, bro,” reminding the other officers that he was recording everything on his bodycam.
Community activists were understandably unhappy about these comments, but Philip Stinson, who teaches criminal justice at Bowling Green State University said, “That’s the way police officers talk. It pulls back the curtain on the police subculture. It’s raw, ugly, violent.” These comments, he said, are “shockingly literal. They mean exactly what they’re saying.”
Community activist Darren Green said, “We’ve never had community policy. We’re seen as property; therefore, we’re treated as such. They’re comfortable doing it because of the historical records. Where are all the good cops when rogue cops go wrong? If they stepped up and said, ‘That’s not what we’re about,’ that would change the paradigm.”
Stinson said that it is unlikely that community-police relations would improve unless the attitude and message changes: “It tells them that it’s OK. It reinforces stereotypes that some police officers have of some residents. If I were a stakeholder in the city of Trenton, it would give me great pause.”
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