Greensboro police said late Tuesday that remedial action was taken against an officer who was filmed last month while arresting a young African American man for walking in the street near his grandmother’s house.
A police spokesperson said the action taken did not rise to a level covered by state public record’s law, which would require disclosure, but that action was taken against Officer T.B. Cole. Examples of remedial action include additional training or counseling.
It’s welcome news given the mindset of near paranoia that many across the nation have adopted toward police following the events in Ferguson, Mo., and an increased scrutiny of police militarization.
Cole’s actions, captured on video by Devin Scales as he and his brother Rufus were confronted while walking along Memphis Street, seemed capricious and arbitrary. The thought of police stopping men at random to demand identification is offensive to any liberty loving American.
As more of these cases are captured on video, where Americans are increasingly asserting their right to question authority, we reach a tipping point of sorts. Police will have to choose between escalating to arrest or figuring out how to explain their procedural basics to citizens.
Police in this country, and in Greensboro, are given broad powers over the rights of citizens. They command admiration in our society second only to combat troops overseas. And most are highly trained and dedicated professionals.
But police must understand that authority is merely derived from the consent of the governed. No matter how much military surplus equipment a department accumulates, treating law abiding citizens like combatants in a foreign land is never going to fly here.
The Greensboro Police Department is wise to take action critical of Cole’s decisions, even if it amounted to little more than a rap on the knuckles.
It sends a message that capricious decision making is no way to patrol a community. !
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