Police have been known to plant evidence. In some situations, the plant is intended to protect another officer who has clearly made an error in judgment, such as when a ‘drop’ is used. A ‘drop’ is an untraceable weapon, often confiscated from previous suspects, which is then dropped alongside a slain suspect who was unarmed at the time of the shooting.
Op-Ed by C J Oakes
In other situations, evidence is planted to ensure that a person known to be guilty is convicted in court. It is wrong, but it happens.
Then, there is the situation such as occurred recently in Cleveland, Ohio. It appears that an entire police unit was involved in framing known drug dealers, shaking them down for cash, and arresting them on trumped up charges. They were caught after one suspect was able to prove their lies because of constant video surveillance he had at his home. The FBI got involved and now, at least three Cleveland Police Officers are headed to the very jail to which they had sent so many others.
So, They Were Shaking Down Known Drug Dealers…What’s the Big Deal?
There is so much wrong with this story that it is hard to know where to start.
So let’s just focus on the impact this case has on law enforcement in Cleveland. when
When law enforcement officers turn rogue, as in the case of East Cleveland Police Officers Torris Moore, Eric Jones, and Antonio Malone, it sends a foul message to the public. Such a situation often takes time to be discovered by anti-corruption personnel in the department, but the public becomes aware much more quickly. The public then perceives, wrongly so, that the entire department is corrupt. This makes the job of policing more difficult and far more dangerous for the entire force.
But the issue runs deeper than just public opinion.
Here is an example from an incident which occurred in a Texas prison. An inmate suddenly grabbed a metal bar used to open food slots from the utility belt of the guard who was walking him back to his cell after a shower. The inmate then beat the guard to death and returned to his cell. When asked why he did so, the inmate’s answer was, “He was wearing gray.”
An investigation revealed that the guard killed was a veteran with an outstanding record and no complaints from any inmates. He was also a husband and father of two. His only crime against the inmate was wearing the same uniform as another officer who had earlier that day abused the inmate to the point that he wanted revenge.
In the case of persons who are wrongly arrested, guilty or not, feelings of resentment and hate can easily grow against law enforcement and police officers. No one likes to be wrongly accused and punished, regardless of past sins. When the perpetrator of injustice is the very institution which is meant to fight injustice, anger and a desire to retaliate also grows.
It is fair to ask then, “How many people are now walking the streets of Cleveland seeking revenge for something Torris Moore, Eric Jones, and Antonio Malone did to them?” Also, “Which decent and upstanding Cleveland Police Officers will now pay for the crimes of their so-called brothers-in-blue?”
Planting Evidence Crosses the Thin Blue Line
The Thin Blue Line has often been used as a symbol of police solidarity. Some in law enforcement use the term to justify using a drop to protect a fellow officer who made a grave mistake. Some use the term to justify lies to internal affairs investigators into the actions of their comrade.
Yet, that is NOT the point of the Thin Blue Line.
The Thin Blue Line is that small band of brothers who fight shoulder-to-shoulder to protect the public from criminals. In fact, the symbol, the blue horizontal line with a field of black above and below is significant. The black above is the public, the black below, the criminal elements in the public. The blue line is law enforcement who bravely stand between the two, both protecting and serving.
When any in blue plant evidence, for any reason, they step from the Thin Blue Line to the Black field below. When any cover up their wrongs with lies, they too step down into the darkness.