Monday, May 4th, 2009

This is just amazing.

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64 Responses to “Wow.”

  1. #1 |  nobahdi | 

    Aside from putting someone’s life in danger, why do police insist on arresting people for charges that do not exist?

  2. #2 |  PogueMahone | 

    Wow. $62, 000 a year to hang up on callers!
    And here I thought getting paid not to raise livestock was a sweet gig.


  3. #3 |  David | 

    I noticed that, as usual, they note how many commendations the officer had received over his career. Is there any cop who doesn’t have a folder full of gold stars that can be trotted out to show what a great guy he is and how abusing his authority is “out of character”?

  4. #4 |  Matt | 

    I was at least pleased that his superior gave an interview and was quite candid, did not attempt to make an excuse or explain anything

  5. #5 |  Nando | 

    This guy should be suspended, a minimum of 30 days, WITHOUT pay. I don’t think he should be fired for it as it is his first offense (or so the reporter claims). I believe in second chances and this guy should be given one, but he must suffer some disciplinary action.

  6. #6 |  David | 

    A question, though. Why do they have highly paid police manning what is essentially, a customer service job? They couldn’t offer 15-20 dollars an hour and train someone with people skills?

  7. #7 |  Ganja Blue | 

    nobahdi, not only do they arrest for charges that don’t exist, they expect us to know the letter and spirit of the law in advance, when they themselves don’t know what the laws are.

  8. #8 |  Tom G | 

    I was under the (possibly mistaken) assumption that 911 personnel are trained, aren’t they? Maybe the training should emphasize that people dialing 911 are under stress and if they swear, it’s NOT PERSONAL. If you’re answering a 911 call, just ignore any cursing and give the caller the information THEY need, and take the information YOU need.
    That’s right…ignore any cursing. It’s not directed at you.
    It’s also NOT PART OF THE JOB to correct people who are calling in for some emergency, either, except to ensure the address etc. is right.
    (I can’t believe that has to be said, but apparently it does)

  9. #9 |  Chance | 

    That was amazing, a reporter actually questioning the police just like a real journalist should – demanding answers.

    Got to be a hoax.

  10. #10 |  Andrew S. | 

    A two week suspension and “training”. Wow. But to be fair… um… at least it isn’t a a paid suspension.

    What. a. joke.

  11. #11 |  av | 

    Given that many companies now block video at work, could those of us out here in text-land get a brief synopsis of what we are missing?

  12. #12 |  HTownGuy | 

    That was amazing, a reporter actually questioning the police just like a real journalist should – demanding answers.

    That was (genuinely) shocking. I’m not used to news that diverts from the ‘repeat-police/authority-talking-points’ routine.

  13. #13 |  Aaron C. de Bruyn | 


    In some areas, it’s very little more than glorified customer service.
    But in most areas, these people have gone through training to walk you through CPR and delivering a baby over the phone.

    They have training on what types of information to gather and how to dispatch appropriate services.

    In a lot of areas it’s a little more complicated than “I need an ambulance.” “Ok–I’m going to push an ‘ambulance’ button and one will magically appear.”

    But this guy is a jerk. He needs to be fired
    He can get his ‘second chance’ on the radio at McDonalds.

  14. #14 |  parse | 

    av, a girl calling 911 for help when her father collapsed in the kitchen said “fuck” when wondering why it took so long to answer. The cop/operator, instead of asking about the emergency, decided to lecture her on her language. Then he repeated the process as she hung up and made two increasingly agitated calls. Then, when she went to the police station to get help, he arrested her.

  15. #15 |  T.J. Brown | 

    This guy won’t be fired. A quick “Robert McFarland Lincoln Park, MI” google search shows that he’s been involved in at least one civil action (dismissed) in which he tased a 14-year old boy several times:

  16. #16 |  Boyd Durkin | 


    A news reporter not licking the badge.

    To be fair, had the cop seen the pretty blonde girl he’d have first exposed himself and tried to sexually assault her before shooting the family dog and then arresting the dad for cooking meth (per an un-named informant)…then he’d head to the gym.

    …wait for it…NEW PROFESSIONALISM!!!

    I’m petty sure that if I did that at my job I’d be shit-canned, not given two weeks off so I could go work security at a disco.

  17. #17 |  Tokin42 | 

    I saw this on FARK a couple of weeks ago. The officer acted like an incredible ass, no way should this ‘tard still be allowed to deal with the public in any capacity.

  18. #18 |  DeadGuy | 

    I’m with Chance (#9). This has got to be a hoax. A pretty white girl (the perfect victim) getting the run around and then getting arrested for a non-existant crime. An officer with a perfect record who isn’t spouting off to the press (the perfect “bad cop”). A reporter that asks real questions and searches for the facts (the perfect story). A police leader that answers honestly and candidly and doesn’t defend the officer (the perfect public servant). No loud mouthed union representative defending the cop. This is all just too good to be true.

    I’m not much for conspiracy theories, but this smells awfully fishy to me.

    I am pleased that it all pretty much worked out though. The dad seems okay, the cop is getting a real punishment that appears to fit the behavior and his record and the public knows the story – which is the perfect ending…hmm. I guess the only thing left is (the perfect aftermath) for the girl to sue and the police to settle for a decent enough sum to take care of her dad and go to college.

  19. #19 |  J. Blanton | 

    #3 David:

    I’m really curious about all those “commendations” too…I would be very interested in seeing all of the commendations for every police officer at a particular district/station/whatever. I’m willing to bet that every cop has at least two or three “commendations” stored away which they whip out and use as their “get out of jail free” cards. These cop stories are so frustrating…especially considering they can just arrest you on trumped-up charges if you raise your eyebrow in their general direction (I’m sure it would be like “I’m arresting you for disorderly and malicious use of facial mannerisms”). Who’s going to confront cops if they can just screw you over for a few days if you do?

  20. #20 |  Kristen | 

    parse #14 – SHE did not hang up. The POLICE hung up on her.

  21. #21 |  roy | 

    The press did better than usual on this story, good for them, but they still need to do better.

    For instance, it’s an oxymoron to say somebody was “arrested for … a charge that doesn’t even exist.” That’s not arrest. That’s aggravated kidnapping.

  22. #22 |  Bernard | 

    I’d bet good money on the ‘without pay’ part of the suspension being quietly overturned on appeal and him ending up with a 2 week holiday that gets removed from the record within a few months.

  23. #23 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    A dick is a dick no matter how much training they receive. That officer is a dick.

  24. #24 |  Bob | 

    This is hoax, yes? The sound track doesn’t match the video, and the story is too pat. Fairly well done, otherwise.

  25. #25 |  Carinna | 

    That’s my local station and it’s no hoax. That reporter is the bane of every official in Metro Detroit. He had some major run-ins with Kwame Kilpatrick and his “security” before Kwame got national attention.

  26. #26 |  roy | 

    And while this is no guarantee that everything in the story is true, it doesn’t seem to be a hoax. You can find the video and transcript hosted by the TV channel who aired it here. “WXYZ” sounds like a totally fake name for a TV channel, but they seem legit.

    If the sound doesn’t quite line up with the video, that’s probably just a little quirk of the video player.

  27. #27 |  seeker6079 | 

    I went and read that decision about this officer (and the others). If we assume that the statement of facts provided in the judge’s decision are correct then

    What I found baffling about the decision, though, was that the judge, in examining whether the boy in question was properly searched, used the search incidental to the arrest for assaulting a police officer*. It was a prior search by an officer* which resulted in the violent altercation by the boy (14) who sounds like a real prize hoodlum. In other words, the boy refused to give up his gameboy (a violation of the school rules, not the law), a police officer was called, who demanded the gameboy and to search the boy, (both of which were refused), and was assaulted when he tried to do this. The assault charge was then used to retroactively “clean” the illegal search.

    * Not McFarland.

  28. #28 |  seeker6079 | 

    sorry: first para should end…

    … then the dismissal of the lawsuit for excessive force isn’t that unjustifiable.

  29. #29 |  MacGregory | 

    And all this time I never knew there was an etiquette for calling 911. “Golly gee officer, my father is having a seizure. He may die. Could you please, please, pretty please send one of those gosh darn ambulances.”
    If the man had died I am sure that we wouldn’t be hearing this 911 recording. Because ofourse there is no recording. She never called.
    “A 17 year old was charged with the negligent homocide of her father for failing to call 911.”

  30. #30 |  Bob | 

    Wow. Not a hoax. That’s unbelievable. a 2 week suspension without pay is not enough. I would sue for gross negligence. This stellar ass intentionally held up a 911 emergency call just so he could be a shit head.

  31. #31 |  Bob | 

    Matt said:

    “I was at least pleased that his superior gave an interview and was quite candid, did not attempt to make an excuse or explain anything”

    I was not pleased. I got the distinct impression he was just in full CYA mode and was going to say whatever he felt he needed to say to dodge the issue while protecting his officer.

  32. #32 |  davidst | 

    That officer is extremely fortunate that the dad didn’t die or something. I’m pretty sure he’d be in serious shit had that happened.

    As it is… well he’s probably not stupid enough to do something like this again.

  33. #33 |  Brian | 

    Isn’t this the same Steve Wilson from a 2006 Reason piece?

  34. #34 |  Michael Chaney | 

    As someone else said, the officer is guilty of kidnapping (“arrest” means to legally take someone into custody – without support of the law it’s kidnapping). While it’s nice that the chief admits wrong-doing, the officer should be criminally charged.

  35. #35 |  Diane Lipson | 

    What the heck – come on! The civil liabilities I leave to their lawyer, and good for them. What I want is reassurance that that cop will never, ever be allowed near a 911 call for the rest of his life! And two weeks suspension is a messed up slap on the wrist – its a damn vacation for anyone making that much a year, unless he has ten kids. I can hear that scummy piece of work laughing this off!

  36. #36 |  Marty | 

    I love the ‘cops’ style footage of a cop running from a citizen vs. a cop chasing a citizen for some bullshit!

  37. #37 |  seeker6079 | 

    Remember, the magic code word to get an ambulance in this town is “jinkies!”.

  38. #38 |  UCrawford | 

    Nice work by the reporter to highlight the officer…frankly, it appears that public humiliation is the most effective tool to train officers these days since sadly police “professionalism” doesn’t appear to do it.

    And hopefully the girl will be successful in her lawsuit…that seems to be the only other way to force public servants to change. Although it’s probably not as effective as humiliation since it’s not the government’s money they’re losing, it’s the taxpayers’, and they can always collect more taxes.

  39. #39 |  something in Latin | 

    I used to take customer service calls for a bank, serving a (somewhat) calmer clientele, and took profanity-laced diatribes all the time. You know what happens when you hang up on people? They fucking call back. And if you’re a 911 operator, maybe someone dies.

    This guy would be fired from a private sector job. Period.

  40. #40 |  Mister DNA | 

    The girl needs to sue Officer McFarland, not the Lincoln Park PD. As long as the taxpayers are footing the bill for the malfeasance of these “New Professionals”, cops have absolutely no incentive to behave.

    There was a time when I thought that taxpayers would get sick of paying out these judgments, but it seems like the average Joe still thinks cops can do no wrong.

  41. #41 |  Tim | 

    This is criminal negligence, end of story. Send him to prison – this deserves a criminal trial as well as civil.

    But back in reality, I see a settlement in at least the million-dollar range…

  42. #42 |  Kristen | 

    @#40 Mister DNA

    I disagree. If the taxpayers have to keep footing the bill for these guys over and over and over again; if government keeps having to put in more red light cameras and stricter seat belt laws to pay for these types of things; maybe bumper stickers like the one up there ^ would disappear and the public would pay attention to what the police are doing, instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt and treating them like little gods.

  43. #43 |  Randy | 

    So Bob, it doesn’t really matter what anyone says or does, their bad and covering up in your mind. Doesn’t matter that several persons said the superior did a fine job of addressing this.

    Leaves me to believe that your are a paranoid schz.

  44. #44 |  Marty | 

    I’ve been running 911 calls for 21 years (ems and fire) and have never heard of anything quite like this. I’ve seen lots of incompetent dispatchers, lots of honest mistakes, etc. There’s lots of bullshit associated with dispatching- which I consider to be the toughest, worst job in the 911 chain. However, the entire reason the 911 system exists was lost on this call…

  45. #45 |  Brian | 

    As a social worker, if I had talked to a client in the way the officer did during the 911 call I would be fired for sure (rightly so)….and I have never been disciplined ever. There would be no question that most of us would lose our jobs (regardless of the profession) if we were to act so unprofessionally (again, rightly so).

  46. #46 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Why are all you people so unfair to the cops? Let me just enumerate the highlights of this story in a way that brings some perspective to the situation.

    1. Cops don’t swear. Everyone knows that. And if they do, one admonition from a citizen is all it takes to get them to apologize and clean up their act. This explains why the 911 cop and the desk cop were so unprepared to deal with the girl’s use of the explicatives. To them, the use of fowl language is nearly the same as a physical assault. As Oliver Wendell Holmes specifically said, “You no more have the right to say FUCK to a cop than yell FIRE in a crowded theater.”

    2. The officer had a clean record. That is proof positive that this officer has never had any behavioral problems in the past because, as we know, all complaints are properly investigated by a disinterested third party and if it were determined that the officer acted inappropriately, they would, without exception, have punished him severely. Any future behavioral infractions would have resulted in even more severe punishment, most likely loss of his job and a charge of disorderly conduct. And we all know how prosecutors love to go after cops. So, who are you going to believe? This 911 tape or the word of a distinguished police officer who has never been in trouble in his life?

    3. Cops don’t make up laws and they don’t lie. There was just a misunderstanding. The woman probably offered to go in the back room and begged to be arrested and they were merely trying to accommodate her, being the good public servants that they are. Then she probably tried to bribe them into not telling anyone about her using the F-word and flew into another tirade when they stubbornly refused to take whatever she was offering (probably sex and money). But you don’t hear the cops making a big public to-do out of that aspect do you? Nope. Because cops respect citizens and don’t hold them accountable for little things they do when they’re upset.

    4. Cops should never be approached by news men. Cops have privacy rights just like the rest of us and all the news does is twist the facts (of which this entire case is a perfect example) and make cops look bad when, if people heard the real story, the cops would be totally vindicated.

    5. Despite this woman’s repeatedly hanging up on the 911 operator, he heroically persevered until he was able to discern that that an emergency might be happening and sent help in the form of rescue squad and another copy of himself to the scene to ensure that the woman would receive that personal one-on-one interaction that cops are so famous for. Aggressive lessons in citizen-to-cop etiquette would have most likely been administered if she had been there when they arrived. And let’s not leave out the fact that this valuable instruction would have been provided free!

    6. A life was saved. What more is there to say than that? If the cop hadn’t been able to bring to bear all of his 20 years of police experience to calm the hysterical woman down and get coherent information from her, her dad might be dead now. How ungrateful it is that no one appreciates that the cops are always there when we need them and very often even when we don’t need them.

    So there. Don’t you all feel just terrible now?

  47. #47 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I think if you work with the public, you should be able to tolerate the word FUCK. And, if you’re a shit head, you should probably be able to tolerate the word SHITHEAD.

  48. #48 |  annemg | 

    I find it interesting that in the middle of the call, he calls her a little sh*t. I think. (It’s bleeped.)

  49. #49 |  JS | 

    David #6
    “A question, though. Why do they have highly paid police manning what is essentially, a customer service job? They couldn’t offer 15-20 dollars an hour and train someone with people skills?”

    Because we live in a police state.

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  51. #51 |  KBCraig | 

    One thing no one has pointed out yet: where is it that a 20 year Sergeant is answering 911 calls? Answer: anywhere that he’s been pulled from street duty.

    I don’t care how many commendations he has, nor how few negative personnel actions; that says nothing about how many investigations he’s been under, nor how many were sustained. How many times have we seen officers promoted after egregious abuses? The promotion “proves” that they were right all along.

    I bet my dollar against yours that this guy is a known problem, known to his department and his chief, which is why he’s making $62,000 doing what non-sworn personnel do in most departments, for a lot less money.

  52. #52 |  A2Tom | 

    For anyone who still thinks this might be a hoax, see this:

    This happened last fall … here’s the full story (with transcript of the video):

  53. #53 |  Brian | 

    “I find it interesting that in the middle of the call, he calls her a little sh*t. I think. (It’s bleeped.)” Exactly..
    Notice that she is never heard calling him a curse word.
    But the “professional” calls her a little ” ___.”
    I also have to wonder why he was assigned to that position. Has anyone heard of a 20-year officer having to work dispatch?

  54. #54 |  hexag1 | 

    kudos to the reporter.

  55. #55 |  Andrew | 

    Until government bureaucrats and their enforcer goon squads are actually held accountable for their misdeeds nothing will ever change. Currently they’re a protected class who can pretty much do whatever they want with impunity. As another commenter stated he’ll get unpaid leave which the police union will appeal. A few months later he is quietly be given his back pay and his record will be cleared. The public will be none the wiser because it will be deemed a “personnel matter” and be handled in secret. The new aristocracy takes good care of their enforcer thugs.

    If there were any justice the guy would be fired, brought up on charges of false arrest, fined, sentenced to 8 or 10 months of jail time and be required to pay the girl 20 or 30 thousands dollars.

    Until there are serious consequences for misbehavior of those in authority their attitudes and actions won’t change.

  56. #56 |  ChrisD | 

    It’s amazing that only dumb luck kept someone from dying on this officer’s watch, yet he’ll get a wrist-slap. He should be prosecuted, not just sued civilly.

  57. #57 |  Miscellaneous Links and Clips « Brad Taylor’s Blog | 

    […] Arrogant cop lets power go to his head and risks man’s life by getting offended over a 911 caller’s pottymouth and refusing to help (hat tip: Radley Balko): […]

  58. #58 |  furpo | 

    She`s lucky the pig didn`t plant crack on her when she was arrested. I live a city over from L.P. , they are locally famous for planting crack one anyone found with small amounts of marijuana. I know 3 different people this has happened to, and the prosecutor knows it, if you put up a bit of a stink the prosecutor will gladly drop the crack charge if you plead to the weed.

    Fuckin Pigs!

  59. #59 |  Punch | 

    The cop lied on a report, endangering a citizen and conducted a false arrest and he only gets 2 weeks suspension!!??
    He should not receive one more cent of tax payers money!

    Demand Sgt Robert Mcfarland be fired over this incident!
    -Lincoln Park, Michigan contacts:
    Chief of Police, Thomas Karnes
    (313) 381-1800
    -City Manager,Steve Duchane
    (313) 386-1800 EX 231
    -Police Department
    1427 Cleophus
    Lincoln Park MI 48146

  60. #60 |  etihw2 | 

    Two weeks suspension wasn’t enough. Not only was this serious, it’s actually very annoying.

    Not that many people can dial 911 and say with a straight voice: My father is having a seizure. May you please send an ambulance to my house at (address)? Thank you very much.

  61. #61 |  Yanqui Bob | 

    According to the text on the screen, he called her an a_ _ _ _ _ _ when she called back. (Azzhole).

    And did you notice the finger gesture he gave the camera man after he refused to talk to the reporter and got in his car?

    A real model of professional decorum, this guy!

  62. #62 |  LP citizen | 

    This asshole cop is NOT the only dirty cop on the force in this dirty city….most of them are ALL dirty even the mayor and the chief

    They all make me sick to the pits of my stomach.

  63. #63 |  Robert McFarland | 

    What the FUCK? This officer thinks that he is above the law. Aw! you got your feelings hurt by a 17 year old because she used the word fuck. What I don’t get is that the officer actually hung up on her, not once, but 3 times and called her a bafoon. What a dickhead he is. If I was the Chief of Police, I would have fired him. i don;t care if he was having a bad or not or if he didnt like the word FUCK, he would have been gone. We have to teach society that cops cant get away with this type of shit.

    I can only hope and pray that the family sues the police dept. if I was a juror, I would award them the money and fire that damn cop for being a pussy.

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