Defenders of police brutality must wake up and face facts

Opinion

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Carl Nyberg

Police brutality is wrong. It's morally wrong. It costs the taxpayers a bunch of money. It's not an effective tool for preventing or reducing crime. In fact, police brutality is a crime, even if the Village of Forest Park and the Cook County State's Attorney refuse to treat police brutality as a crime.

Before the recent beating allegedly endured by Edison Reformado at the hands of Forest Park Police, I assumed that the apologists for and proponents of police brutality were merely maladjusted cops and their immediate families. Now, I'm not sure.

It seems there is a vocal minority that actively supports police brutality. These supporters of police brutality could care less about the truth of any incident. The pro-brutality crowd will endlessly make excuses for bad decisions by cops when the cops beat peopleā€"at least certain kinds of people.

Some have advanced the theory that Reformado was intoxicated with alcohol and perhaps PCP when he was beaten by police, and that this somehow justifies the way he was treated. Others say that since the 19-year-old illegally entered a bar and then got in a fight, he had it coming.

The problem with this conjecture is that it isn't supported by the facts. Reformado was arrested and placed into police custody. Forest Park police officers did not evaluate Reformado as being intoxicated.

The only note on the police report involving alcohol was an observation that he smelled like liquor. Even if he was intoxicated, police officers are supposed to be trained to make arrests without punching offenders in the face repeatedly. Still, the pro-brutality crowd is not going to let facts stop them from believing what they want to believe.

These people make excuses for police officers no matter what. If police beat one Latino kid, it's a good night. If they beat two Latino kids, it's a better night. They are going to shill for the cops no matter what the facts are and no matter what police department policies might have been violated.

One theory holds that the pro-brutality crowd harbor some resentment because some young person, perhaps a member of a minority, did them wrong at some point. Maybe.

I'm not particularly interested in trying to understand the pro-brutality crowd or understand why they support the authorities abusing the rights of individuals.

I categorize them with alcoholics. When they want to get help they can be helped. Until then, talking to them is a waste of time; no amount of logical rhetoric is going to change their minds.

As Jonathan Swift wrote, "It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into."

I am concerned about the people that are influenced by the pro-brutality loudmouths. Most people don't devote a whole lot of their thinking to municipal government issues. They think about their friends, jobs, hobbies, families, sex lives, etc. The people that think about politics and government mostly think about what the big media outlets cover: national and international issues.

On local stuff, most people go along with what they perceive to be the experts and the majority. This is a perfectly legitimate form of decision making. Everybody does it on stuff they can't or don't devote much mental energy to.

But the loud minority that favors police brutality should be treated as pariahs by people of decency. The pro-brutality crowd doesn't have a vision for providing effective policing. They merely want the system to be more punitive and to see cops teach wrongdoers a lesson through pointless and excessive force.

This doesn't prevent or reduce crime. It's using criminal activity to clarify and amplify society's social hierarchy. It's not good for business. And it costs taxpayers plenty.

The Forest Park Police Department has serious issues. The department had an unhealthy climate when Lt. Michael Cody was convicted of battery for assulting Officer Andrea Caines. Since then Mayor Anthony Calderone and Chief of Police Jim Ryan have made decisions that have further corroded good order and discipline in the department. Police brutality and other problems are a symptom of the lack of good order and discipline in the department.

Forest Park taxpayers are paying for the police department's bad decisions. The average taxpayers who would rather think about what to do on the weekend is going to have to devote a small amount of mental energy to understanding the problems facing the Forest Park Police Department. Understanding these policing issues is necessary to get past the shrillness of the advocates of police brutality.

Reader Comments

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jake o  

Posted: January 2nd, 2014 4:32 PM

I knew this article would be biased off of the title and I wasn't shocked. Please, understand that your argument loses credibility once you start slandering the other side. The title was too much, lol. I was looking forward to an article with statistics and some great stories about this topic. But instead, I ended up reading an article written by a clearly angry person who spewed rhetoric without any substance behind any claims.

Observer  

Posted: November 19th, 2013 2:33 PM

Good question Bill, I also wonder what the 06 & 11 dispositions were, plea bargain etc? If there was a follow up article in the FPR I didn't see it. The (Highland Park) patch type articles usually list only arrests not dispositions? Glad to see the young man has changed his behavior and is doing well. Carl's article appeared so conflicting with the police report & witness account? Strange indeed! Maybe watcher could explain it to us?

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: November 19th, 2013 1:14 PM

Just curious, Jim. What led you to comment on a 7 1/2 year old news article? ?..FWIW, Reformado threatened- but never filed- any state or federal lawsuit, despite his claims. One witness to the incident described Reformado as "out of control."? A 2011 DUI arrest aside, he seems to have child out. Married now and a partner and coach in a company that runs youth basketball leagues.

Observer  

Posted: November 19th, 2013 12:17 PM

http://highlandpark.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/police-blotter-juvenile-robbed-vehicles-vandalized

Observer  

Posted: November 19th, 2013 12:15 PM

http://www.forestparkreview.com/News/Articles/3-14-2006/Man-punched-and-Tasered-by-police-during-bar-fight/

Observer  

Posted: November 19th, 2013 9:20 AM

This article is from 2006? If I was around at the time, I would have stated that it is unfair to denigrate the entire department over assertions of unfounded misconduct and I would challenge a thorough review of the "victim" aka intoxicated youth taken into custody for a felony? What was his behavior like that night? I'm sure he hasn't had any problems with adhering to the law since this event?

Jim LaForte from Oak Park  

Posted: November 19th, 2013 12:22 AM

First, I enjoyed reading this article. With that said, I believe that your opinions are very one sided given that you probably do not work in the Law Enforcement Community and are only commenting on this one case. Cops today have way too much responsibility and Forest Park PD is very professional and aggressive in the right areas: narcotics, ghetto behavior, etc. One officer who stepped over the line does not define an entire department. Trust me, they do not want the heat.

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