Cop Objects To Editorial About Community Policing, Sets Fire To 20-Year Career In Response

from the Facebroke dept

There’s nothing quite like watching a professional with twenty years of experience burn it all to the ground in the space of a few hours. Officer Daniel Wolff of the Detroit PD — spending some time at home recovering from a work-related injury — took issue with Motor City Muckraker’s story highlighting the number of police officers who don’t live in the communities they serve.

He handled it badly. Here’s Muckraker’s Steve Neavling’s coverage of the Facebook meltdown in which the journalist was personally attacked by the off-duty officer.

A Detroit cop on Tuesday called city residents “garbage” and bragged that he used to “hit them with “handcuffs in the head” and “smack” children in the face.

Officer Daniel Wolff was responding on Facebook to a Motor City Muckraker story about an increasing number of Detroit police choosing to live outside the city.

Wolff, who works in the second precinct and lives in the suburbs, said he would never live in the city he serves because it is “just a nasty place.”

“Getting rid of residency was the best thing that ever happened to the Detroit Police!!!!! We have to police the garbage but you can’t make us live in the garbage.”

Not only did Officer Wolff have a problem with being expected to “live in the garbage,” but he felt the last few decades of technological advancement had made it much more difficult to police the streets the way Wolff would prefer to.

Wolff bemoaned cell phone cameras, saying, “You can’t walk up to a kid or asshole and smack him in the face like we did.”

And he had a few words for Neavling as well, when informed the Facebook conversation was being reported to his department. It involved Wolff’s apparent desire to commit (career) suicide by cop, with the twist being that he was both ends of the equation.

When I told him that Internal Affairs was investigating, Wolff responded, “Please do. I’ve been trying to get fired for years you cunt. Help me you ass.”

Consider Wolff helped.

The department received Wolff’s alleged comments from the Muckraker the day they were posted, according to Director Michael Woody of the public information office.

“We have forwarded them to our internal affairs for a full investigation,” Woody said. “This is not representative of the vast majority of our officers in this department, who work hard every day to build relationships with members of our community.”

Officer Wolff was apparently very thorough in his Facebook slating of the general public. According to Detroit Police Chief James Craig, there were several other allegedly “sexist” and “racist” comments delivered by the cop before he decided to memory hole his Facebook page.

[W]e’re going to move forward with the investigation and we should be at a finding fairly quickly,” [Craig] said. “If this individual feels that strongly about working in the City of Detroit and has that type of attitude, we certainly don’t want him here.”

Well, that would appear to align with Wolff’s stated desire to be fired. With twenty years on the force, Wolff likely has a pension locked up and would probably be given the option to resign, which means taxpayers will continue paying a former public servant that has zero respect for them for the next several years.

As for the article that started it all, it simply makes the same point that could be made in nearly any major city: it’s tougher to build relationships with the communities you serve while living as far away as you can from them. It’s a problem everywhere and frankly, there’s not much to be done about it. Coaxing, pleading, offering housing, etc. are about the limit of what city governments can do to help close this gap between the police and the policed. Anything else places tremendous restrictions on officers’ freedoms. True, communities may be better served by officers with closer ties to the people they police, but mandating this would create larger rifts by adding a whole bunch of resentment and anger to the mix. In other words, the public would get Officer Wolff, who somehow maintains this level of anger and resentment despite living miles away from the neighborhood he works in.

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Comments on “Cop Objects To Editorial About Community Policing, Sets Fire To 20-Year Career In Response”

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Anonymous Coward says:

It’s actually a two-way problem: if you limit officers to people who live or have family in the area they police, then there’s potential for corruption. If you limit officers to people from outside the area, there’s potential for dehumanization.

One solution is to hire externally, with the understanding that when hired, they would be expected to live in (potentially city owned or subsidized) housing within the city.

This works better when dealing with larger policing organizations, where officers can be rotated between locations on a regular basis. Definitely a challenge for city policing.

Jon Renaut (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Another thing to think about is good cops with good intentions who have valid reasons to live elsewhere. I know a cop who lived in the city where she worked. She chose to move to a nearby suburb not because of contempt for those in the district where she worked, but because it was increasingly problematic for her to run into people she had arrested when she was off duty.

In no way do I mean to justify what this cop did – it sounds like a bad cop is getting what he deserves. But forcing cops to live where they work has consequences that we can’t ignore.

sean says:

Cop probably suffering from PTSD

I’ve examined the comments of the cop. He appears to have had a meltdown. Everything he is quoted as saying in the article is a typical PTSD symptom. Fatalistic. Suicidal. Overwhelmed by negativity. Social filters gone. Speech filters non-existent. Cynical and depressed. Has this guy even been diagnosed? I’m guessing he doesn’t even know he has PTSD. Sad that he’s being handled so badly. But our government is to asinine it punishes people like this instead of treating them which makes them worse and then they punish them more. It’s inhuman to subject a cop to 20 years of intensely cruel people every day in, arguably, the worst city in the US, and then punish them when they develop stress induced neurological problems. GET HELP FOR THESE PEOPLE.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Cop probably suffering from PTSD

Cop probably suffering from PTSD

PTSD? Is it really all that stressful being a privileged special snowflake? Maybe it’s just a variant of affluenza.

It’s inhuman to subject a cop to 20 years of intensely cruel people

It’s inhuman to subject a people to 20 years of intensely cruel cops.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'A few bad apples spoil the barrel' isn't an excuse, it's a warning

It doesn’t need to be systemic to be a problem, it just needs to be ignored. Get a large enough collection of people and it’s all but guaranteed that a few ‘bad’ ones will slip through the cracks, pretty much anyone should understand that.

One or two ‘bad apples’ out of a hundred isn’t that big of a problem so long as they are removed promptly, but when that not only doesn’t happen but the other ‘apples’ fight to keep them, to insist that they’re not really that bad and in fact what they did should be completely acceptable, that is a problem.

When that happens the ‘apples’ don’t really have any ground to object when they all get put under the label of ‘bad apple’, because from the outside, with the many defending the actions of the few, they all have the appearance of agreeing with those actions, even if they themselves don’t engage in them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Cop probably suffering from PTSD

It’s inhuman to subject a cop to 20 years of intensely cruel people every day in, arguably, the worst city in the US, and then punish them when they develop stress induced neurological problems.

Subject him to it?

His career was his choice. He can fuck off and find another job if he doesn’t like it. Just like the "garbage" that he smacks in the face.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Cop probably suffering from PTSD

Tell him to suck it the fuck up Dr. Phil. Boo fucking hoo. PTSD. Bullshit. Cops have it easy. PTSD. What? Did he get a bad doughnut or two?

Sounds to me like he was just another bully asshole that is frustrated he has to act like a normal human being. Sounds to me like yet another bad apple that took pleasure causing others pain. I agree with you. He is sick. Just not the kind of sick you describe.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Cops living in their communities

Agreed. It will take a lot more than just residency requirements to get the police (as a whole) to respect the citizenry. Even the SCOTUS gives cops too much credit, and not enough scrutiny.

Anonymous Coward says:

Leave him his pension

This career-burning is all words, and thus all about the feels.

Come back and ask my opinion when you have someone complaining about being actually bitch-slapped by him, or had evidence planted on them, or some other actual line-of-duty offense.

Sure, you might not LIKE to have him on the force, and his words MIGHT point to actual offenses. But until you have those offenses, he’s just a dog on the internet. Whether he’s John Law or Judge Dredd when he’s on the street is entirely different.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Leave him his pension

Wolff bemoaned cell phone cameras, saying, “You can’t walk up to a kid or asshole and smack him in the face like we did.”

I too like to complain about no longer being able to do things I never did in the first place.

Screw letting him resign, fire him and make it public, particularly why he’s being fired so that everyone knows just how he feels about them.

Anonymous Coward says:

…it’s tougher to build relationships with the communities you serve while living as far away as you can from them.

This doesn’t just mean law enforcement but our government as a whole. The people who are supposed to govern us, to represent us, to protect us are entirely disconnected from us because they live in magical bubbles separated from us. People in Congress don’t know what an average living wage is. They don’t have to worry about where their next paycheck is coming from or if they can afford to eat tonight. They don’t have to worry about drinking contaminated water or usage restrictions on it. They don’t have to worry about getting sick and going into debt for the rest of their life by an outrageous hospital bill. They just simply don’t have to care.

Anonymous Coward says:

Devils advocate here. How many murders, rapes, robberies, little old ladies being assaulted, kids killed, etc… would be enough for someone to label those he ends up dealing with as garbage? Everyone, no matter how saintly they want to claim they are has a breaking point. If they didnt, they would be as awful as the criminals they deal with every day. The guy made a fool of himself, but lets face it, very few of us could make it a week doing the job many people do every day in these cities that look like war zones. If all you ever get to deal with is the bottom of society, then that is all you will eventually see in society.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“How many murders, rapes, robberies, little old ladies being assaulted, kids killed, etc… would be enough for someone to label those he ends up dealing with as garbage?”

How many bad interactions with cops do you need before you label all of them as garbage – then why would you treat them as anything but?

I know where you’re coming from here with the devil’s advocate thing, but it works both ways. Yes, the nature of the job is that you have to deal with the worst of society. But, you will also come into contact with good people, and if you treat them like they’re criminals they won’t treat you any better even if you are trying to “protect and serve”.

That seems to be the issue at hand here. If you have too many people policing a community who have no roots or off-duty contact with the community, it’s too easy to become an us vs. them battle where both sides hate each other. As evidenced here – this isn’t someone policing a community, this is an armed thug who wishes he could violently attack anyone he dislikes (and apparently hates everyone he sees there). The streets are almost certainly better off without him, even if he has good reason for his views.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You know cops deal with all sorts of situations not involving the worst humanity has to offer, right? Including situations they cause themselves by simply being authoritarian.

Lots of other jobs are stressful and/or dangerous. But somehow it is mostly just cops like this causing the problems. And making it hard for any decent officers on top of it.

jimb (profile) says:

some people just shouldn't be cops...

There is always another one coming along, another ‘tough guy’ cop, proving that some people just shouldn’t be cops. Police agencies usually have a slogan with some variation on “protect and serve”… but there are too many cops whose only interest is in proving how much better -they- are than the “dirtbags” they are supposed to be serving. These are the cops who beat people up, shoot unarmed people in traffic stops, and throw their authority around for entirely unrelated issues – like telling a person in a traffic stop to put out a cigarette. Abuse of power just to make themselves feel a little more important, a little better than the citizen they are supposedly “protect and serving”. Some people just should not be cops… and the rest of the cops need to let them know it, instead of covering for them. This guy is one who should have been uncovered and convinced to change careers years ago, when he started smacking people instead of doing his job professionally.

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