What Does It Take for a Cop To Get Fired?

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

For Bogota, New York New Jersey Officer Regina Tasca, it was trying to prevent other officers from beating the hell out of an emotionally disturbed man. Tasca hasn’t been fired yet. Her fate now rests in the hands of judge.

In Bogota, officers control whether or not their dashboard camera rolls. Fortunately, when Officer Tasca responded to a call in April 2011, she clicked her unit “on.” The black-and-white tape captures it all–a mother, Tara, screaming for police to stop punching her son on their front lawn. She had called to have her emotionally disturbed son Kyle taken to the hospital. Bogota police responded while waiting for the ambulance. Tasca was the sole officer on the road that day, so she called for back-up according to protocol. Ridgefield Park police then sent two officers. Tasca had just completed her state-mandated training for working with emotionally disturbed citizens.

Tasca described what we see on the videotape: “The Ridgefield Park officer automatically charges and takes him down to the ground. I was quite shocked. As he’s doing that, another Ridgefield Park officer flies to the scene in his car, jumps out and starts punching him in the head.”

On the tape you can hear Tara, the mother, and Kyle, her son, screaming, “Why are you punching him?” and “Stop punching me!”

Kyle, by the way, was never charged with a crime. Tasca got involved, and was eventually able to pry Kyle’s attackers off of him. And that was her undoing.

Tasca’s voice began to waiver as she recounted the meeting with her superior officer:

“The next thing I know he asks me to turn over my weapon and be sent for a fitness for duty exam,” she said.

Bogota PD, after hearing Tasca’s story, believes she is psychologically incompetent to be a police officer, and she is being sent for testing. The Ridgefield Park Police officers seen tackling and punching an emotionally disturbed man waiting for an ambulance are never questioned. never interviewed by an Internal Affairs Investigator, and are still working the streets today.

Bogota Police chose to suspend Tasca, an 11-year veteran with numerous commendations. There are photographs from the hospital documenting the bruises on the 22-year-old’s head, back, arms and wrists.

Tasca says the real reason she’s being called out on these charges is she crossed the “blue line” by refusing to support another officer even when he used excessive force.

This is the third story I can recall in the last year or so in which a police officer who crossed the blue line was sent off for a psychological evaluation. It isn’t just that cops don’t rat out other cops, it’s that those who do obviously have psychological problems. It’s a chilling thought. It also sends a pretty clear message to other well-meaning cops. Cross the blue line, and you may not only lose your job, we’ll also publicly question your sanity.

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47 Responses to “What Does It Take for a Cop To Get Fired?”

  1. #1 |  Stephen Spiker | 

    What does it say that an officer who isn’t willing to physically assault an unarmed citizen as soon as she arrives on the scene is deemed psychologically unfit to be a cop?

  2. #2 |  perlhaqr | 

    Hey, y’know, if you can’t handle stomping on heads, you have no business joining the NKVD.

  3. #3 |  Ken Hagler | 

    I can see their point. If she’s not a vicious psychopath, then she clearly _isn’t_ psychologically competent to be a police officer.

  4. #4 |  el coronado | 

    Am trying, really really *trying hard* here, not to make comparisons with the Bogota PD and the SS and/or Spetznaz and/or SAS – weeding out the weak and soft. The ones unable to ‘do the hard things’ required of any good commando/overwhelm-with-massive-force military/execution unit. (ask any IRA guy about the SAS sometime.)

    But I can’t do it. Just can’t. Tasca is being busted because she didn’t follow (unwritten) Standing Order #1: ‘There’s US, & than there’s everybody else. Your Honor is Loyalty to US, Officer. Everybody else don’t matter.’

  5. #5 |  CSD | 

    I guess the Bogota PD is going with the theory:

    “In an insane system it is insane to act sanely”

  6. #6 |  Ben | 

    There are two types of cops. Bad cops, and those who cover for the bad cops. And the cops will make sure that no third type will stick around long enough to spread their bad ideas.

  7. #7 |  Jim | 

    Bogota & Ridgefield Park are in New Jersey.

    Why do they get to choose when to turn on the camera ?

  8. #8 |  Sinchy | 

    She’s the one who was trained o deal with emotionally disturbed individuals yet the linebackers are given the benefit of the doubt.
    This is New Jersey not New York, though.

  9. #9 |  BamBam | 

    @4 you should be able to do it because it’s the truth. Tyrants and evil systems throughout history have used psychological exams as a way to label and destroy good people. It can only happen with everyone going along with the program.

  10. #10 |  Juice | 

    This is very very similar to another story, but I’ll be damned if I can find it by googling. Cops were beating a man basically to death and one cop intervened and stopped it. After that, he was harassed and eventually fired and they pulled the psychological evaluation thing on him too. It’s so hard to find on google because finding one specific cop beating story is hard. What terms do you google? There are so many stories it’s ridiculous.

  11. #11 |  nigmalg | 

    Well this answers the question of why the “good cops” don’t do anything to stop outrageous behavior. You can not question the brotherhood, even from within the brotherhood. Doing so shows weakness and a lack of blind support for authority.

  12. #12 |  Burgers Allday | 

    pretextual psychological reporting goes on in a lot of non-police workplaces too. in fact, it may be more prominent in the private sector than the public. haven’t seen stats, but I have seen enough data points to know that we may be dealing with a problem that should be dealt with in a comprehensive way that cuts across public and private sector employers of all types.

  13. #13 |  Difster | 

    That woman clearly isn’t fit to be a heartless, gun toting thug wearing a state issued costume. I wish more of them were disqualified that way.

  14. #14 |  NL_ | 

    I feel like there’s increasingly an opening for some enterprising city (perhaps a small city in a particularly shitty area) to market itself as a place where cops aren’t dicks, even to poor people.

    “New Springfieldburg: we don’t beat you just for the hell of it”

    Seriously, I would considering moving somewhere that marketed itself as having rigorous oversight of police, and a police hierarchy dedicated to restraint and integrity.

    Those types of people who spend their lives afraid of criminals being coddled can have the entire rest of the country, where police will beat anybody who they imagine defies their authority. I’d just like to live somewhere that roving bands of gladiators aren’t given badges and the full backing of the legal system. Ideally, the cops would be privatized so that the city wouldn’t give a fuck about prosecuting them – might even see exposing any abuses as a value-add from the city government.

  15. #15 |  Cyto | 

    Bogota PD are amateurs. NYPD would have busted the door down and hauled the officer off to a mental ward in secret.

  16. #16 |  Comrade Dread | 

    Bogota PD, after hearing Tasca’s story, believes she is psychologically incompetent to be a police officer, and she is being sent for testing.

    She is. She still has a soul. That’s an automatic disqualification right there.

  17. #17 |  Arthur | 

    What really amazes me is how the majority of Americans would probably agree with the superior officer here. They are protecting you, it’s a dangerous job, they have to be tough, these officers depend on each other….blah blah. Ah, the power of denial.

  18. #18 |  Charlie O | 

    After so many stories like this, why, why, do people keep calling the cops to take their emotionally disturbed, sick, whatever, family members to a hospital. Evidence shows that action is only going to get someone killed or severely injured. And I ain’t talking about the cops. The most dangerous person at any location is the guy with the badge and gun.

  19. #19 |  CB | 

    Here’s the money quote:

    “Bogota PD, after hearing Tasca’s story, believes she is psychologically incompetent to be a police officer, and she is being sent for testing.”

    They Bogata PD has it backwards–all the OTHER cops are psychologically incompetent to be a police officer!

    This illustrates exactly what I’ve been saying for a long time. Police departments want sociopaths. They screen for them. Conveniently, many sociopaths also want to be cops. It’s not a case of a few bad apples. Rather, it’s a case of a nearly entirely bad barrel!

  20. #20 |  Pablo | 

    #18 Charlie O–police generally tag along behind ambulances on 911 calls even if a crime is not reported. There is always an opportunity to fish for arrests, esp. if the call for an ambulance is for a physical injury, overdose, someone passed out, etc.

  21. #21 |  David | 

    After so many stories like this, why, why, do people keep calling the cops to take their emotionally disturbed, sick, whatever, family members to a hospital. Evidence shows that action is only going to get someone killed or severely injured. And I ain’t talking about the cops. The most dangerous person at any location is the guy with the badge and gun.

    Do they? I mean, the story says the mother called an ambulance, and “police responded.” If you need emergency services to take someone to a hospital, you call 911. 911 dispatchers have the authority to send ambulances and dispatches police. Unless you’re (a) aware of what police are likely to do to anyone they deem noncompliant; and (b) thinking clearly enough to apply that awareness practically in what’s by definition a hectic situation, you’re probably not going to specify “and don’t send police” on the call.

  22. #22 |  David | 

    Also, if you did say “and don’t send police,” they’d probably take that as probable cause to search your home for marijuana.

  23. #23 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Just so we can summarize: Cops stopping cops from brutalizing citizens are deemed to be unfit for duty. Proof #44,598 that these assholes need to go far, far away.

  24. #24 |  PermaLurker | 

    You don’t have to dial 911; you can dial the ambulance service directly. I know phone books are so 20th century, but it’s what we did back in the stone ages before 911.

  25. #25 |  David | 

    True, but for most people, 911 is the ambulance service. Hell, I only found out there was a separate number because my home phone growing up was one digit away from it.

  26. #26 |  plutosdad | 

    I guess she’s lucky she wasn’t forceably committed like Schoolcraft was, or find herself without backup and murdered like so many other good cops.

    What the hell kind of country is it where the cops who stand up for the people, and who stand up to bad cops, are either fired, committed to a psych institution, or murdered?

  27. #27 |  winston smith | 

    The Ascendence of Sociopaths in US Governance

    “They are drawn to government and other positions where they can work their will on other people and, because they’re enthusiastic about government, they rise to leadership positions. They remake the culture of the organizations they run in their own image. Gradually, non-sociopaths can no longer stand being there. They leave. Soon the whole barrel is full of bad apples. That’s what’s happening today in the US.”

    http://www.blog2.tshirt-doctor.com/?p=33825

  28. #28 |  Steve Verdon | 

    As I said there is no such thing as a good cop. Ms. Tasca is in the process of returning to the ranks of “civilian” because she did the right thing and was trying to be a “good cop”. But this is what happens to them, they are driven out of the police department.

    This notion that there are bad cops and good ones is just simply not true.

  29. #29 |  Russell Jones | 

    Having worked in the Soviet Union, as a consultant with their law enforcement, in the late ’80s, I know whereof I speak. When the Soviets could not arrest someone they wanted removed from a position, they marginalized the person by questioning the persons mental capacity. It worked quite well for them, and seems to be working here as well.

  30. #30 |  James Sr. | 

    To serve and protect whom ? Surly not the public or their community.

    If everyone protested on their property tax payments for paying for police dept. and refused to pay that part and take it to court.. if that would have any effects ? Just a thought of how to back door the bright line idiots.

  31. #31 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #27:

    Doug Casey made a number of good points in that essay, but I found his smugness about personal wealth rather off-putting. This smugness is a recurrent flaw in Casey’s argumentation. I subscribe to his mass e-mails, which often contain suggestions that the wealthy all got that way by having superior virtue, broad-brush smears of government, and similar apologia for moneyed interests.

    Maybe he’s just pandering to his audience, but it’s unseemly in any event. It verges on Social Darwinism. The essay about sociopaths abetted wealthy Americans to abandon their country and their fellow citizens. Emigration probably makes great sense for certain individuals and families, but the snobbish tone with which Casey introduced the argument, implying that those without the wherewithal or financial means to emigrate don’t matter and should be ignored, was odious. The use of the term “international man” didn’t help, either. The essay made these supposedly virtuous “international men” sound awfully like the sociopaths that it encouraged them to escape–more forthright, perhaps, but barely any less selfish.

    Doug Casey isn’t the only libertarian who studiously ignores the ways in which American policy is set up to soak the poor, and like many Republicans, he actively opposes countervailing policies to protect the poor from predation by resorting to hyperbole, e.g., conflating normal powers of taxation with totalitarianism. At the risk of beating a dead horse, as I’ve mentioned before, this is dubious company for civil libertarians to keep. It makes us look like we’re shills for money.

  32. #32 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #14:

    The LAPD may be turning into the agency that you propose. There have been a lot of stories lately about the LA Sheriff’s Department hiring LAPD rejects, and Charlie Beck seems to be one of the most responsible police chiefs in the country. So was Bill Bratton. Between the two of them, the LAPD has had close to a decade of unusually solid leadership.

    At least that’s my take on it. Maybe I’ll be accused of being too kind or of glossing over their mistakes, but I will say this: I’ll be amazed if anyone can provide evidence that either Beck or Bratton is a fuck-up in a class with Daryl Gates or Bernard Parks.

    As a side note, I’ve long held Antonio Villaraigosa to be a pompous windbag and a loose cannon, but he’s also deceptively competent. It’s to his great credit that he has retained good police chiefs and then left them pretty much alone to do their jobs. Giuliani, on the other hand, was a meddlesome, petty shit who fired Bratton over a pissing match and replaced him with a succession of thuggish courtiers. I’m not a betting man, but I’d consider putting money on Bratton having nicer things to say about Villaraigosa than about Giuliani.

  33. #33 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Where the hell is the police union in the Tasca case? There’s no mention of it in the WPIX article, and I assume that Bogota police officers are unionized.

    This could be a litmus test for the real values of police unions. Police unions often stand up for sworn cretins on the alleged basis that the cretins are labor and the commanders who would discipline them are management, but which side are they on in this case? Management is trying to stick it to labor again, this time to a good specimen of labor, so where’s the union?

    I have no problem with public sector unions in principle, but this case is starting to look like “On the Waterfront.”

  34. #34 |  pichachu | 

    Juice “This is very very similar to another story, but I’ll be damned if I can find it by googling. Cops were beating a man basically to death and one cop intervened and stopped it. After that, he was harassed and eventually fired and they pulled the psychological evaluation thing on him too. It’s so hard to find on google because finding one specific cop beating story is hard. What terms do you google? There are so many stories it’s ridiculous.”

    That was an Austin Texas cop with a Spanish last name. I remember it too but I don’t know exactly where to find it.

  35. #35 |  the innominate one | 

    Daniel Ellsberg was to be smeared as mentally unstable by the Nixon administration when he leaked the Pentagon papers, with Nixon’s henchmen burglarizing Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office to obtain his records, so this tactic has an illustrious history.

  36. #36 |  ben tillman | 

    That was an Austin Texas cop with a Spanish last name. I remember it too but I don’t know exactly where to find it.

    It was covered on this blog, I believe:

    http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/

  37. #37 |  Maria | 

    @24 Yeah. Makes one think.

    Used to be that land line phones came with those little stickers for putting in the numbers of the Ambulance, Fire, and Police. Some European countries have separate short numbers for each service and if you need an ambulance you call the ambulance number and get an ambulance. During the call itself questions are asked to see if you also require the services of the police but they are not assumed and not sent automatically unless the dispatcher judges something more is going on.

    Every time I read about a case like this, when bored cops chase fire truck/ambulance calls just to cause trouble I realize how important it is to keep these services separate. Thugs assume that every 911 call must involve criminals and that every personal and private situation needs to have their “sign off”. They don’t care if it’s an attempted suicide, a bad night drinking, or a diabetic seizure, they’ll beat the crap out of you anyways, just to show you who’s boss.

  38. #38 |  John Regan | 

    It’s not just the cops, although they can be especially vicious with the “mental health issues” smear:

    http://strikelawyer.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/epilogue/

    It all boils down to the narrative. The whistle blower being “troubled” or some such is a much more agreeable narrative than the alternatives, which might mean that everyone in authority, including (God forbid) judges, have a little soul searching to do. And maybe even some work.

    Some people wonder why the “good” cops or the “good” lawyers or the “good” judges don’t do anything to stop the rogues. I don’t.

  39. #39 |  CyniCAl | 

    New Jersey is a shit stain. Fuck ‘em all.

    Pretty clear statement of expectations of cop behavior.

    Willingness to be violent = sane

    Restraining violence = insane

    Can’t get much clearer, and it’s their words. Case closed. ALL COPS ARE EVIL.

  40. #40 |  Youguessedit | 

    Never ever, ever, for any reason, ever, trust a cop for ANYTHING.

  41. #41 |  phillyjim | 

    Further proof that cops are nothing but another street gang.

  42. #42 |  Eric Northman | 

    I agree with the last post. This sounds more like a street gang mentality than anything else.

  43. #43 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “This is the third story I can recall in the last year or so in which a police officer who crossed the blue line was sent off for a psychological evaluation. It isn’t just that cops don’t rat out other cops, it’s that those who do obviously have psychological problems.”

    Very disturbing. And, as others have alluded to, very Stalinist. Officer Tasca should be the model for a new kind of policing that intervenes to stop violence, not matter who is being violent. Instead, she gets labeled “unstable.”

    Not to long ago, I finally decided–after much soul searching and research–that I am also too “unstable” to be a police officer. Exhibit A: I believe the drug war is insane. Thus, I must be a degenerate doper. Exhibit B: I am uncomfortable with ticket quotas and the push to turn police into big time revenue producers for the states. Thus, I must want people to die in motor vehicle crashes. Exhibit C: I do take the use of force lightly. It should not be used to teach people a lesson for not respecting my authoritah. Thus, I must be a pussy.

    So I voluntarily withdraw my interest in policing. Now everyone can rest a little easier.

  44. #44 |  CyniCAl | 

    That’s the best news I’ve read here in a while Helmut. Congratulations on what I believe is a good decision.

  45. #45 |  d montgomery | 

    saw on florida news the police officer who will lose her job for doing the right thing when it should be the other officers. new jersey used to be a great state for everything what is happening.

  46. #46 |  Sunday Links | The Agitator | 

    [...] Last week was the hearing for Regina Tasca, the New Jersey police officer who lost her job after pulling two of her fellow cops off of the unarmed man they were beating. [...]

  47. #47 |  KPRyan | 

    Sure she should be fired.

    She:

    1) Did not honor the ‘Thin Blue Line’.
    2) She activated her video recording device which should ONLY be used to show citizens in a bad light, not police.
    3) She did not beat, electrocute or shoot the ‘bad guy’…which makes other cops nervous to be around her.
    4) She attempted to stop the beating… this further makes other cops nervous to be around her and, just as importantly, caused the 2 other cops on the scene to not be able to get out their aggresions on the ‘bad guy’. Cops should always be allowed to get out their aggresions on members of the public; otherwise they bring them home and beat their wives, girlfriends and children.

    Consequently, I fully support the ouster of this ‘rogue’ element – she does not have the proper psychosis to be a member of the FOP.

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