Cleveland Police Union Rep: Citizens Think They Understand The Law? Ridiculous!

from the er-okay-then dept

If you’re a sports fan, you have probably heard about the spate of players in several leagues sporting shirts or else protesting, via planned actions at the start of games, the recent deaths at the hands of police. Everyone from Derrick Rose and LeBron James in the NBA to several football players have gotten into the act. A few weeks back, in fact, we learned that the police in St. Louis, the area home to the Michael Brown shooting, were quite upset that members of the Rams would dare to voice their support for protesters. That story was insulting enough, but the reaction to Cleveland Browns player Andrew Hawkins’ wearing of a shirt that simply read “Justice for Tamir Rice – John Crawford”, both of whom also died at the hands of police, is downright insulting.

In response, Jeff Follmer Police Patrolman Union President sent newsnet5 the following statement:

“It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.”

If this statement from the President of a police union in a major city doesn’t boil you up with anger, read it again. It’s pathetic when athletes think they know the law? By implication, it’s “pathetic” when ordinary citizens believe they “know” the law under which they are governed? The hubris required to insist that the same people you claim to protect and serve are pathetic for thinking they are aware of the legalities of American life runs at levels I truly didn’t even think I’d see directly on display. Of course, there are nuances with the legal profession that escape the average American. That’s why we have lawyers. But for the reaction to the police shooting two unarmed people (one of them twelve years old) to be to snicker at the thought that the protester knows “the law” is beyond insulting. It’s downright stupid.

And what is with the thinning of skin in America’s police force all of the sudden that a little protest returns calls for apologies? Grow up. You don’t get to wear body armor, drive around in MRAPs, and have skin the thickness of amoeba membranes.

What this ultimately reveals is that many cities in this country have a huge problem in the disconnect between the police and the people they protect and serve. For the lead dog in a police union to snort at the public for daring to “know the law” in such a manor reveals the larger problem: the respect is only going one way, if any way at all.

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Comments on “Cleveland Police Union Rep: Citizens Think They Understand The Law? Ridiculous!”

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Gord the invincible says:

Protect and serve

The great thing about this is that this is really only the motto of the LAPD of all police forces, also as people have pointed out on other sites, they needed someone to go on national television, they thought about it and they picked this guy. Cleveland should have it’s police force disbanded and start all over again this time banning people with IQ’s less than 110

Anonymous Coward says:

We have reached a level where cops are never in the wrong for murder. A point where no accounting of civilian deaths is required (or wasn’t until the last meaningless attempt to again require it). Yet accounting of police deaths and injuries is a mandatory.

What the civilians have learned from law enforcement is that it is often safer with the criminals than with the law.

What’s wrong with this picture?

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I think one of the parts that boggles my mind the most is that there are no actual statistics for how many citizens are killed by police each year. Go look it up. There are “estimates” but no hard data. You can find the exact number (or as far as we know) of murders, suicides, and even deaths from heart disease, but there’s no statistic for “killed by police” (although it wouldn’t surprise me if those deaths are categorized under the “accidental gun death” category to make guns scarier”).

It saddens me that we keep track of every single person killed by capital punishment in prison but when the police are judge, jury, and executioner we shrug and go “why would we track that?”

I suddenly feel like the show “Dexter” is uncomfortably close to reality. If you want to be a serial killer, you know where the best place to get away with it is? Join the police. Kill anyone you want, and maybe you’ll get some unpaid leave while they cover it up…er, “investigate.”

Anonymous Coward says:


While it would probably be an (uncomfortably) apt metaphor, my guess is you meant to say “manner” and not “manor” here.

No, no… The southern plantation house simply will not do for legal debates. For that, one needs a fortified villa. A motte and bailey would be better, for those times you want to pour boiling oil on the lawyers at the portcullis.

tomczerniawski (profile) says:

Actually, what’s pathetic is that in the time since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, America’s police have killed more than twice the number of American citizens than those terrorists managed to.

It’s also pretty pathetic that police continue to assault, arrest and intimidate Americans for documenting police activity on video, even though it’s perfectly legal. Quite pathetic indeed, such absence of legal awareness in our police…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

…in the time since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, America’s police have killed more than twice the number of American citizens than those terrorists managed to….

Not defending the police here, but I’d like to see the statistics on that. Are we counting only problem cases or are truly justified cases included?

Starke (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Based on the article here:

I’d say excluding justified killings, Tom’s estimate would be conservative to say the least.

Also, with the sheer volume of shootings, and the increasing number of police killings where we’re seeing police overstepping the bounds and then claiming it was justified, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of genuinely justifiable police shootings are in the single digits. With a most of them being “justified” because the person they killed was trying to defend themselves from a madman on a power trip with a badge and a trunk full of military hardware they were itching to play with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It’s pathetic when the law is so complicated that you need a Ph.D to know it. Laws should be reasonably understandable by those that are governed by them.

The way that Jeff Follmer, Police Patrolman Union President tells it, those with a Ph.D should stick to what they know best, and only people being paid for law enforcement should claim to know the law.

Because while I know there are a number of athletes with Ph.Ds, I can’t think of many policemen who went further than a Master’s degree. Those that did usually traded in their badge for something else, and so would no longer be covered by his blanket statement.

Anonymous Coward says:

“It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law. They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.”

I see…so when the POLICE don’t know the law, what’s your excuse then?

I can't even says:

Re: Re: Re: What respect?

? you make a lot of assumptions about people in that statement assumptions that are not true, I know people that went away for murder that I respect, I also know people that went away for murder that I don’t respect the two things are not really connected.

To suggest that people would never do anything inappropriate because they are ethical is to really not understand human beings, people fail, they react and the do things that they themselves think are wrong all the time, the reason I say none of this applies to cops is that they are culturally violent in my experience they are less honest and more violent that bikers, they regularly frame, abuse, extort and harm the communities they are supposed to be protecting.

I can’t remember that last time a biker tried to force me to suck his cock, but I can remember the last time a cop did.

I remember the last time on of the “capable of violence” people jumped in and saved me from getting my head kicked in, I also remember getting swarmed and having a knife pulled on me with two cops across the street that despite my calls for help did nothing.

Being capable of violence is just a skill, being ethical is a general state but you are still not immune to failure, being a cop is to choose to be and to accept training to be a sociopath

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What respect?

” I know people that went away for murder that I respect, I also know people that went away for murder that I don’t respect the two things are not really connected.”

I wasn’t talking about murder, I was talking about “great violence”. Being convicted of murder is not proof that the person is undeserving of respect. That depends on entirely on the circumstances that led to the killing.

“To suggest that people would never do anything inappropriate because they are ethical is to really not understand human beings”

Also not really what I was saying. I was talking about people deserving of respect more than whether they are ethical. Someone who engages in great violence inappropriately is not deserving of respect. Ethical people can (and all do) suffer lapses, of course, because living ethically is a bit like being enlightened: you can never accomplish it completely, but the important part is that you strive for it always.

However, that’s distinct from “respect”. I know people I consider ethical who I don’t respect.

“Being capable of violence is just a skill”

Depends on what you mean by “capable”. I mean “being willing”. That’s not a skill, that’s a mindset. Being technically able to is a skill. I would posit that there are more people in the latter camp than the former.

chad holbrook (profile) says:


I was more struck by this and other statements by police representatives.

“The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.”

Several statements like this, others were more blunt, imply that the police were insulted and may not protect and serve if they feel slighted. Or am I reading too much into this?

Anonymous Coward says:

He migh be right...

I don’t know the all the nuances of the law, because my field of expertise is not law related.
I would just like to know: what is the excuse of police unions, the police force, judges, law agencies, lawyers and others who is in that field?
While we are at it, some things are obvious i areas we know nothing about. Just as obvious as you don’t use bicycles to transport tons of sand across 100’s of miles in the transport business; you DON’T kill 12 year old kids or other unarmed people as a cop and just shrug your shoulders afterwards while you go “meh”

Tim R says:

Area of Expertise

That’s a pendulum that swings both ways. I”ll admit, I am not a lawyer, nor a legislator, nor a law enforcement representative, so I may not be hip on all of the wranglings of the law. However, I am a technical professional. If I were to tell them that they don’t know or understand dick about technology (which, less face it, does seem likely at times), they’d take umbrage to such a statement.

Anonymous Coward says:

I believe wearing a shirt protesting police brutality is a constitutional right under the 1st amendment. It appears Andrew Hawkins knows the law better than Jeff Follmer, President of the Police Patrolman Union.

I believe Mr. Follmer owes Mr. Hawkins an apology. It’s downright insulting when Presidents of Police Unions, don’t know the law. This explains a lot about why unarmed citizens are getting choked to death, and 12 year old kids are getting gun downed in 2 seconds flat in the middle of broad daylight.


Personanongrata says:

Crocodile Tears and Public Relations

Jeff Follmer Police Patrolman Union President in Cleveland Ohio needs to attend remedial public relations 101 classes.

When your “officers” are responsible, on multiple occasions over a period spanning years, for gunning down unarmed citizens you should expect to be criticized and have demands for police accountability voiced.

If Jeff Follmer can not handle citizens demands for accountability he and his ilk within the Cleveland police department should resign.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s pretty pathetic that police cadets with high IQs are bared from passing at the end of their training. In other words, not only are most cops a little on the slow side but they are completely ignorant of the laws they’re told to enforce. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a cop to plead ignorance of the law and get away with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Maybe we don’t know the laws how the police see them. let me give it a try.

“cops can do whatever they want, citizens are being used as target practice by police for their murderous rages. other police and Courts refuse to prosecute dirty cops soley because they are police.”

Take a look at their training for god sakes they are using cardboard shooting targets designed to look like normal every day civilians be it a senior citizen, a pregnant teen mother or a child. All conviently holding guns.

Rekrul says:

Cops can take your property and all they have to say is that they thought it was involved in a crime.

Cops can beat you and all they have to say is that you tried to assault them or that you were resisting arrest.

Cops can kill you and all they have to say is that they feared for their life.

Cops will almost never face any consequences for anything they do. Their superiors, police unions and sympathetic DAs will make sure of that.

Even video evidence isn’t enough to hold most cops accountable.

And yet, a large percentage of the people in this country don’t believe that there’s any problem.

What’s wrong with this picture?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Ignorance is bliss

Easier, and more comforting, to wrap yourself in the lies of ‘It will never happen to me’, ‘They were criminals, they deserved it’, and ‘If it ever did happen to me, I’m sure it would be easy and pain free to resolve the mistake’, than to admit that those that were supposed to protect the public, are now some of the greatest threats to the public.

GEMont (profile) says:

John Q. Public - State Adversary #1

Actually, the attitude openly expressed by this official towards the general public is, I think, the prevalent attitude of American Police forces across the board and very reminiscent of the attitude expressed by the federal tri-letter agencies, when it comes to honoring public privacy and public security as well.

If the Police still actually Protect and Serve somebody, you can be absolutely certain its not the American public.

The public is, for all intents and purposes, The Problem, according to almost all the agencies that are supposed to be working for the public and for the public good, and who seem to forget that its the public that pays their wages.

I don’t see this situation getting any better soon, because the public no longer has a voice and can thus effect no change in the direction the Police and other federal agencies are headed.

This thing is going to have to come to a boil, and blow the lid off the pot before there will be even a remote possibility for change, because the people leading this charge into hell are completely isolated from the normal legal and social consequences of wrong action now and see no reason for restraint.

Shit and fan will have to meet before anything can be salvaged from the wreckage of what was once The United States of America.

I find it somewhat ironic, that those who have succeeded the most due to the American Way of Life, are the very same people who are currently doing everything in their power to destroy every last remnant of that way of life.

Must be a dinosaur thing.


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