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.

Filed Under: andrew hawkins, cleveland, jeff follmer, john crawford, law, law enforcement, police, tamir rice


Reader Comments

The First Word

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Oblate (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:05am

    And yet...

    I bet that this union rep is more than willing to criticize the Browns players when they don't play well.

    Even though no one dies when football players screw up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:06am

    "Protect and serve"

    not "abuse and murder". Do try to remember this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:09am

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    This asshat thinks ignorance of the law is required outside of law enforcement, and they think the law is what they say it is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gord the invincible, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:14am

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:19am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:43am

      Re:

      Actually, I think what we have learned is that law enforcement are often also the criminals.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JP Jones (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 4:38pm

      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."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        art guerrilla (profile), 18 Dec 2014 @ 5:44am

        Re: Re:

        funnily enough, it is 'against the law' (hardeehar har har) for the kops NOT to report these stats... the (in)justice dept is supposed to keep them, but hasn't bothered... maybe we should sicc the (in) justice department on them...
        oh, wait...
        its good to be the king ! !!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:24am

    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.


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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:30am

      Re:

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

      When it comes to how cops are treated by the system, they live in manors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 1:08pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:24am

    Just remember this is a union president. It should be noted that the Cleveland police department itself is silent on this issue-- probably because of the DOJ investigation.

    Better would be to read Andrew Hawkins' very well spoken statement about this matter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:48am

      Re:

      One would think that the head of the police union would be interested in making statements that would increase confidence in police officers, not decrease it. But I guess not.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:28am

    Jeff Follmer, Police Patrolman Union President is proof positive that you need neither an education or a good grasp of grammar to succeed in America.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    tomczerniawski, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:34am

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 2:40pm

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Starke (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 7:56pm

        Re: Re:

        Based on the article here: http://gawker.com/what-ive-learned-from-two-years-collecting-data-on-poli-1625472836

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JeffR, 18 Dec 2014 @ 11:43am

        Re: Re:

        > Are we counting only problem cases or are truly justified cases included?

        How do you tell the difference? Serious question: without independent investigations, on what basis would you separate the two?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    radix (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:37am

    To be fair...

    The police understanding the law (1st Amendment) is pretty pathetic, so this is likely more projection than malice.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:46am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:22pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      scotts13 (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 6:08pm

      Re:

      (GRIN) I have a minor position in the government of my tiny rural town. My predecessor caused to have created a book of all the laws specific to our little town. It's THREE INCHES THICK.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 11:46am

    "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?

    http://www.policestateusa.com/2014/nicholas-heien-v-north-carolina/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:02pm

    What respect?

    You can be feared or respected. You can't do both at the same time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      I can't even, 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:11pm

      Re: What respect?

      This isn't true I have known may people capable of great violence and I would never want to be in their bad graces but they where also ethical people that I respected their actions and beliefs, so the two are not incompatible it's just not true with cops

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:17pm

        Re: Re: What respect?

        This makes no sense. If they are ethical people deserving of respect, then you have nothing to fear no matter how capable of violence they are because they'd never be violent in inappropriate circumstances.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          I can't even, 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:34pm

          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

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 18 Dec 2014 @ 8:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    chad holbrook, 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:07pm

    Undertone?

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Tim R (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:09pm

      Re: Undertone?

      How very mafia of a union leader. "Gee, you got a nice stadium and fan base there. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it." (read with a thick Brooklyn accent for full effect).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:09pm

    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"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Tim R (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:13pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:20pm

      Re: Area of Expertise

      Perhaps.

      But when I'm told by an expert in a field that I don't know dick about that field, I wouldn't take umbrage. The trouble here is that police officers are almost never experts in the field of law. They're, at best, experts in the field of law enforcement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ysth (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:33pm

    It's worse than that

    You are equating "athletes" to "ordinary citizens", but what Mr. Follmer really means is that those (brown) dumb (brown) jocks only think they know the law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:35pm

    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.

    Sickening.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Miles Barnett (profile), 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:38pm

    Actually, he's right

    "It's pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law."
    Actually, he's right. It's pretty obvious by now that it's perfectly legal for the police can shoot anyone they want.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 17 Dec 2014 @ 12:41pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 3:04pm

    The real terrorists are...

    The Police

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    KRA, 17 Dec 2014 @ 4:13pm

    That thin blue line is looking pretty thick and yellow.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Dec 2014 @ 7:24pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2014 @ 12:44am

    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.

    http://reason.com/blog/2013/02/19/is-your-local-police-department-using-pi

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2014 @ 6:28am

    "Citizens Think They Understand The Law? Ridiculous!"


    Cleveland thinks they have law enforcement officers?
    Ridiculous!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 18 Dec 2014 @ 9:46am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 18 Dec 2014 @ 3:02pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    peter, 18 Dec 2014 @ 1:09pm

    'law'

    Befor you question his statement, I think you should make it cleat which law was he talking about? The usual one for us citizens or the special one only for the police?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 8:31pm

    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.

    ----

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.