More Police Union Follies

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

A Florida state trooper pulls over an off-duty Miami cop after a five-minute chase, during which the off-duty Miami cop, who was on his way to a second job, drove in excess of 120 mph and weaved in and out of traffic.

The head of the local police union is now criticizing the cop for the unprofessional behavior. But as you might guess, he isn’t criticizing the cop who was speeding.

The growing tension was heightened Sunday when Sgt. Javier Ortiz, vice president of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police, which represents the city’s 1,000-plus officers, attacked Watts and defended Lopez in a letter to union members. He accused Watts of just wanting to ticket a Miami cop.

“Officer Lopez was extremely professional,” Ortiz wrote. “Many of us would have acted differently if a fellow cop pulled a gun on them. I would have thought she possibly was a Baker Act that stole an FHP car and a uniform,” he wrote, using a legal term for mentally unstable people who are considered dangerous.

He went on to tell officers: “Please do not get to her level and begin taking action against Troopers because of the poor decisions of one. … Do not be running her information on DAVID, FCIC/NCIC, etc.,” referring to law enforcement databases that contain criminal records, addresses and dates of birth.

Such databases are to be used only for law enforcement purposes, not to gain personal information.

It’s telling that Ortiz would feel compelled to advise his members not to retaliate.

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56 Responses to “More Police Union Follies”

  1. #1 |  David | 

    So Ortiz thinks that, given the choice between a police officer driving 120 miles an hour through traffic for no official reason, and a police officer trying to stop patrol car trying to pull over and arrest a driver who’s going through traffic at 120 miles an hour for no official reason, the former is more representative of how police normally behave, while the latter is suspicious and could be someone impersonating an officer.

    At least he’s honest.

  2. #2 |  Bill | 

    I love that the union guy says that the cop who was pulled over might have thought that the cop who pulled him over was a nutcase who stole a car and a uniform, without considering she might have thought the same thing about the guy in the police car doing 120 MPH for no good reason.

  3. #3 |  NAME REDACTED | 

    I don’t know, this sounds like a threat to me.

    Along the lines of: “Please don’t firebomb their house, it would be terrible if that were to happen.”

  4. #4 |  Dwight Brown | 

    “…without considering she might have thought the same thing about the guy in the police car doing 120 MPH for no good reason.”

    I don’t think there’s any “might have” about this; I believe the first articles I read about the stop quoted her as stating that is exactly what she thought was going on.

  5. #5 |  derfel cadarn | 

    I am amazed that the vehicle that the tax payers are picking up the tab for could be used to get a useless tax feeder to their second job. Is this NOT a problem? The continuing assumption by the po-leese that they are some how better then the average taxpayer and laws do not apply to them must stop. The law was being broken and the perpetrator must pay the price. If the police unions have a problem with that then to fucking bad,the fact that the union rep. had to tell them NOT to retaliate only means that it is expected. That alone is enough in my book to fire every last one of their sorry asses. Big question of the day where are all your “GOOD” cops now? Answer there aren’t any! If ANY officer out there believes that he or she should not be grouped with these scumbags you had better speak up now or be listed among their number. I believe I can hear crickets chirping.

  6. #6 |  Kristen | 

    I think it would be pretty cool for “rival” police departments to go after each other just like their street gang brethren.

  7. #7 |  nigmalg | 

    Also keep in mind that this officer was pursued for quite some time on that video. The Miami officer excused his actions as he thought Watts was attempting to pass him, for 7~ minutes straight…

  8. #8 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    Of all the douche-y cops I’ve had the misfortune to interact with, the ones in Miami have been the douche-iest by far.

  9. #9 |  nigmalg | 

    “I would have loved for Watts to try and pull me over in my marked unit and draw her gun on me! She would have a very rude awakening,” an anonymous writer posted Monday. “I would wait til I got to my district, called all my boys, and then you Miss Watts will be very SORRY!!’

    …nice

  10. #10 |  Mario | 

    So, go ahead and criticize me for jumping to conclusions, but I’m going to guess that the perception is that the officer who pulled over the other must be incompetent, according to the cops criticizing her, because she’s a she. If she’s a black she (something I’m not sure of), that will only maker her more “worthless” in their eyes. Cops tend to have a very strict and antediluvian sense of who’s who.

    That’s what is going on here, if I am to indulge my instinct for cynicism.

  11. #11 |  Dante | 

    From the article:
    “He went on to tell officers: “Please do not get to her level and begin taking action against Troopers because of the poor decisions of one. … Do not be running her information on DAVID, FCIC/NCIC, etc.,” referring to law enforcement databases that contain criminal records, addresses and dates of birth.”

    On a similar note, from Brer Rabbit after being captured:

    “Oh, please do not throw me into the briar patch. Please. It would be a very harmful thing for you to do. So, please do not throw me in the briar patch.”

    {Full Disclosure for those not old enough: Brer Rabbit actually WANTED to be thrown in the briar patch, he loved it in there}

  12. #12 |  marco73 | 

    There has always been a level of resentment between State Troopers and local PD. FHP Troopers generally have a higher level of education and better training. The local PD typically just have to pass a physical and a criminal background check. There’s a whole lot more local cops in any given area than FHP, so any amount of retaliation will be lopsided in favor of the local PD.
    Of course, I can’t believe that the VP of the local FOP would put something this stupid into writing. Any Trooper gets arrested in the next 6 months just has to show up in court with a copy of that letter, and dare the local PD to defend their actions. Its almost a “get out of jail free” card.

  13. #13 |  Alex | 

    What is this about pulling a gun?

  14. #14 |  Alex | 

    What is this about pulling a gun?

  15. #15 |  John P. | 

    I really wonder if cops actually know just how stupid the look to the public when they say or write stuff like this?

    They get angry when we openly question their intelligence, yet they continually hand us stuff like this…

    Is it some type of mental disorder or learning disability they suffer from en mass?

    I’m seriously asking that question too…

  16. #16 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    “I really wonder if cops actually know just how stupid the look to the public when they say or write stuff like this?”

    The point is that they just don’t care. They have the guns and the authority, and we are just peons who they can abuse at will.

  17. #17 |  AnonymousCoward | 

    @ John P.

    It’s not simply that they suffer from it en masse, but that it’s selection criteria for getting the job.

  18. #18 |  albatross | 

    I have read that policemen often end up losing touch with most of their non-police friends. At a guess, many policemen, notably including union spokesmen, live in something of an echo chamber. In that echo chamber, presumably comments like this sound sensible, instead of terrifying. (I imagine there must have been similar conversations among priests some years ago, where the echo-chamber view was that accusations of sexual abuse were almost certainly fake, or one-off moments of weakness, and that the most important thing was to protect the reuputation of the church and the spiritual and physical well-being of the priest in question. And again, when that came to light outside their echo chamber, those sentiments sounded like pure evil.

  19. #19 |  Bart | 

    Interesting how when it is an altercation between a cop and the public, the cops names are never given and little information is provided until “an internal investigation is complete.”

    But when a rival cop crosses the line and messes with your own department, the names are immediately made public and blame is immediately placed and flaunted out in public for all to see.

    I guess once you become the enemy, the privacy protections that are “needed” in other incidents suddenly go out the window.

  20. #20 |  DoubleU | 

    My guess is the arresting officer wont fall out of line again. Unions and the police don’t like when people fall out of line.

    #6 | Kristen |
    I think it would be pretty cool for “rival” police departments to go after each other just like their street gang brethren.

    There is a problem in south Florida, most of the “local” police departments have merged into their respective country sheriffs offices, “to save money and improve resources.” There are no rival police departments.

  21. #21 |  Chris Mallory | 

    Alex,
    If you watch the video, the FHP pulled her weapon and ordered the local out of his car. She then cuffed him and took his weapon.

    I have wondered if he was going to get a “fleeing and evading” charge to go along with the speeding. After all you know a citizen would have been hit with one.

  22. #22 |  DoubleU | 

    Chris, that is because cops like to add a bunch of charges and see what sticks.

  23. #23 |  EH | 

    “Do not be running her information on DAVID, FCIC/NCIC, etc.”

    Dude sounds like a carjacker.

    Albatross: I have been told by officers that that is actually a cause for the high rate of divorce as well. They stop having people outside of the force that they can relate to, which seems to be a weakness in the system.

  24. #24 |  Harley | 

    I think the warning about not looking up the trooper’s info is serious. Cops get fired for that. Using the info to harass their target, not so much.

  25. #25 |  perlhaqr | 

    In this corner, Miami: “I would have loved for Watts to try and pull me over in my marked unit and draw her gun on me! She would have a very rude awakening,” an anonymous writer posted Monday. “I would wait til I got to my district, called all my boys, and then you Miss Watts will be very SORRY!!’

    Sounds like typical gang chatter to me.

  26. #26 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I don’t understand. Can we get one of the Union Lovers that sometimes post here explain what this guy is doing?

  27. #27 |  John P. | 

    Cops do have a high rate of divorce.

    I’ve often wondered if it was because of the way the job causes them to view everyone not wearing a uniform as the enemy. This would include friends and friends of their spouse too…

    Cops truly believe they are at war with the populace.

    This constant level of, well… paranoia will take its toll on anyone.

    And I’ll bet money, if a serious study was undertaken it would show just that.

    And then humorously, the cops would start to blame their high rates of divorce on the public… whom they would still believe, they are a t war with… and the cycle would continue….

    Seriously though, I think its all about the lack of intelligence and education so common among our police these days.

    The legal system is a complex beast. Lawyers go to Law School for 3 years after undergrad. And this still doesn’t come close to preparing them for the job.

    So how can we even try to convince ourselves that the nations cops are ready?

    The average police academy is about 16 weeks, give or take a week or two. The longest IIRC correctly is about 30 weeks, the shortest is 8 weeks…

    But back to my thoughts on cops lack of intelligence… One thing I do know is that divorce is highest among those who lack education.

    Maslow’s Hierarchy in all…

  28. #28 |  DoubleU | 

    You could be on to something John P, I remember seeing a member of my high school graduating class in uniform and my first words were, “You’re a cop?!?!!?”

  29. #29 |  EH | 

    I’ve often wondered if it was because of the way the job causes them to view everyone not wearing a uniform as the enemy.

    The way it was explained to me was that they didn’t (or grew to not) think anybody could relate to the stuff they saw/did on the job, so it was pointless to talk about it. Same old “military wife” type dynamic.

  30. #30 |  John P. | 

    Believing no one can relate to what they do is believable… there again we are talking about people who are after all not well educated and probably not very smart.

    But all that aside the job isn’t all that hard to relate to. Most people either know someone or have been a victim of a crime these days… everyone watches the news where the most shocking cases are laid out in ally heir gory detail, in the name of TV ratings…

    So most folks can actually relate to what cops do.

    Now I think most folks don’t want to relate (read that associate) with cops for reason we discuss at length here… that most cops are nothing more than criminals in uniforms, or have serious issues they felt he need to take out not he public to make themselves feel better.

    Almost everyone I know and work with, must work with the cops due to our professions but that’s it… beyond that which is required we all avoid the cops like the plague.

    And that’s sad when you think about it because not all cops are bad… but more and more the public is seeing fewer and fewer good one’s.

    I think the people who make the best cops, leave the profession once they see it for what it truly is. They might try to change things and fail, so they simply move on.

    WHich is a sign of a greater intelligence level if you ask me.

  31. #31 |  Big A | 

    #29 EH- It’s a cop thing, you just wouldn’t understand.

    Seems like people who think this are always those in careers that are not difficult to understand. On the other hand, a scientist, who works on things that people don’t understand, will go out of his way to explain his work in common terms so that others can understand.

  32. #32 |  John P. | 

    To: #31 | Big A

    It all goes back to the level of intelligence and education one has…

    Cops not well educated nor intelligent, while your scientist is very well educated and intelligent. Therefore wants to impart his knowledge onto others because he sees the value of doing so.

    While those who have menial jobs, jobs that are not nearly as complex or require little education or intelligence to perform will either lie, embellish in an attempt to make their job seem more important that it really is. Or will simply say you cannot possibly understand what it is I do…

    But yes, you are correct.

  33. #33 |  buzz | 

    John P, you’re kind of a generalizing asshole. Must be the superior education and stuff. The cops here all hold bachelors degrees. Part of the conditioning of employment. The older ones are easier than the younger ones to get along with. The young ones run around in paramilitary uniforms and exude a definite us and them vibe. The older ones act like a normal person if you treat them as normal people. And of course there are the extremes that should never be allowed a badge and gun. Since as a class they do have a badge and gun, they should be held to a higher standard and that’s what becomes less and less every year.

  34. #34 |  DoubleU | 

    Some officers do get fired!
    A city police officer has been fired after an investigation showed that he used unnecessary force while making an arrest in January.
    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime/boynton-beach-police-fire-officer-after-finding-he-1949569.html

  35. #35 |  Dan Z | 

    This is the prime example of how there are no good cops. When a good cop actually does what they are supposed to the rest of the ranks close up on them and try to drum them out. Disgusting.

  36. #36 |  bbartlog | 

    @#6Kristen: read up on the history of 19th century New York – it happened. There were two police departments and each chief had issued a warrant for the rival chief’s arrest. As I recall one was the homegrown city PD and the other was a state PD that had been set up because the city PD was so corrupt, but I might be misremembering. Luc Sante’s book ‘Low Life’ has some of the details.

  37. #37 |  Kristen | 

    @bbartlog – sounds interesting. I’ll check it out. Thanks!

  38. #38 |  JOR | 

    It’s less likely that the cops are stupid than that they just think everyone else is. And whaddyaknow, they’re mostly right about that.

  39. #39 |  JOR | 

    “I don’t understand. Can we get one of the Union Lovers that sometimes post here explain what this guy is doing?”

    The (biggest) problem with police unions is that they’re made of police.

  40. #40 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    The black market is the fastest growing part of the world economy.

  41. #41 |  Bill | 

    DoubleU(#34), I hate to ruin it for you, but according to the article, this is his second time getting fired from that department. He was fired in ’07 for tasering a drunk in a cell, but an arbitrator made the hire him back. The same thing could happen again. Meanwhile, they’ve got several other guys in the same department with “legal troubles” who are on administrative duty.

    So thanks for the momentary bright spot, but you should warn us not to read the article if we want the good feeling to last :-)

  42. #42 |  Charlie O | 

    The blog comments are indicative of the mentality of most so-called “law enforcers.” I used to have access to LE website and posted under the name “Lawyer Dan.” On the that website, I was threatened with murder, murder and rape of my family, home invasion, etc. by individuals all over this country who have supposedly sworn to “serve and protect” or at a minimum, uphold the laws of their state and US Constitution. Cops are scumbags. Pure and simple. They believe they are entitled. They are due privileges and respect that none of the rest of us “civilians” are due. None of them, not one, understands that they are public servants who are on the public dole. They just don’t see that aspect of where their salaries and equipment come from. A gang using color of law the abuse society and the public.

  43. #43 |  Mario | 

    buzz @ #33

    The cops here all hold bachelors degrees.

    With all due respect, if we’re talking about a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, I’m not impressed.

  44. #44 |  MassHole | 

    “I have read that policemen often end up losing touch with most of their non-police friends.”

    I had that happen with me. A good friend from high school and someone I even lived with briefly after college became a cop. When someone you like and trust starts putting people in a cage for doing the same things you and he used to do together, you lose respect for them. He told me a story once about busting a high school party and stuffing a kid for having a sack of weed. I asked him why he didn’t just flush it and scare the kid good instead of busting him. He had a rookie with him that day and it would have looked bad. I miss the friend I had. Fuck that cop guy he is now.

  45. #45 |  StrangeOne | 

    To try and counter the whole “cops are stupid” theme I see here, I think the truth is that cops are, on average, of average intelligence. A person who wants to be a cop in a district that only requires a high schoool diploma won’t persue a higher education regardless of their intelligence, why would they if they can get their perfered job right out of high school? In the areas where degrees are required, its not that difficult to get a four year degree these days, especially in a humanities subject like criminal justice. Also far too many of those programs tend to fast track people trying to get into law enforcement, as the union or actual police department long ago established a dialogue with whatever institution they prefer their reqruits go to.

    I think what is far more important is the personality type that seeks out becoming law enforcement. No doubt there are a few that want to serve the community in a way, but I would wager the majority take the job because of pay or job security, with a third middle group taking it for the power they get to weild. In addition institutional filters during the hiring process tend weed out critical thinkers and those who question their supperiors or peers. Add to that a few months in cop culture and you get a group of individuals who are mostly corrupt, duplicitous, and thuggish.

    They are not stupid in a general sense, and are often cunning enough to know exactly what they can and cannot get away with. I’ld wager the handful of idiots Radley tends to report on, who either don’t know or don’t care about getting caught are the minority. I keep in mind a quote from the gangster movie Layer Cake “Know and respect your enemy! It is only very stupid criminals who think the law is stupid.”

  46. #46 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    The claim that cops have a high divorce rate because “no outsider can understand what they do” rings incredibly false to this married prostitute who knows several other happily-married prostitutes whose husbands cannot possibly truly understand our work.

    My guess for the high cop divorce rate is that it’s tied to the fact that cops treat their wives a lot like they treat everyone else: http://www.purpleberets.org/violence_police_families.html
    http://womenandpolicing.com/violenceFS.asp

    For those who don’t feel like clicking, these articles show that cops are four times as likely as other men to beat their wives, and to beat them more severely, and said wives have more trouble getting any kind of official help.

  47. #47 |  Mike T | 

    “Officer Lopez was extremely professional,” Ortiz wrote. “Many of us would have acted differently if a fellow cop pulled a gun on them. I would have thought she possibly was a Baker Act that stole an FHP car and a uniform,” he wrote, using a legal term for mentally unstable people who are considered dangerous.

    And she would have been justified in emptying her entire magazine into Ortiz if he pulled that shit on her.

  48. #48 |  Mike T | 

    On the that website, I was threatened with murder, murder and rape of my family, home invasion, etc. by individuals all over this country who have supposedly sworn to “serve and protect” or at a minimum, uphold the laws of their state and US Constitution. Cops are scumbags.

    The good news is that they’ll be more effective at convincingly infiltrating Mexican drug cartels if they go this route. Birds of a feather or something like that.

  49. #49 |  Bernard | 

    The possibility that lunatics might be impersonating law enforcement officers makes a lot of sense in light of some of the other stories we’ve seen recently.

  50. #50 |  Kristen | 

    I think what is far more important is the personality type that seeks out becoming law enforcement.

    Totally agree.

    Also, another factor (from personal experience with an acquaitence), is that some become cops because everybody in their family is a cop and that’s really all they know and they have an easy “in”.

  51. #51 |  Kristen | 

    @Bernard…speak of the devil

  52. #52 |  Comrade Dread | 

    You know, I used to defend unions as necessary to protect individuals from abuse by corporate or government power.

    I’m going to withdraw that defense for police unions now. Cops should worry about job security.

  53. #53 |  albatross | 

    Maggie #46:

    The interesting question, to me, is whether the higher rate of beating their wives is mainly because of what kind of people they are, or mainly because they know they are so unlikely to face consequences for it.

  54. #54 |  JOR | 

    #53, Is there all that much difference? To a certain degree, people make themselves into their ideals. Cops idealize a lot of macho bullshit, and it shows in the way they treat people, including the people closest to them. People often argue as if the idea that power corrupts, and the idea that power attracts the corrupt, are mutually exclusive; if one is true, the other isn’t. There’s no reason to believe that, and I think all the evidence in the world points to both being true.

  55. #55 |  Nameless | 

    Ok, so you’re telling me thats it was ok for fellow officer to be traveling of speeds of 120 mph is ok? What if the officer lost control of his vehicle and killed one of your family members how would you feel then? Unfortunatley a NJ officer suffered that faith at 100 mph lost control killed himself and innocent individuals. We’re police officer 24/7 but official business is official business in this case he broke the law… We’re not above the law its not fair to say that we let our brothers and sisters go and then literally pommel non compliant citizens. Remember that could be your mom, dad, sister, wife child on the road riding minding their business and all of sudden their encountered in a fatality of a officer speeding of excess of 120 mph for a lousy second job. NO EXCUSE!!!!!!!!!

  56. #56 |  Great moments in public sector unionism | 

    […] in their last year before retirement” [WSJ; more on LIRR, Nicole Gelinas] Radley Balko has another revealing police union vignette, this time from an incident in which an off-duty cop led another cop on a high-speed chase. And […]

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