Letter: Bad police officers dishonor uniforms they wear

From: John Vanderbur


On an October night in 2014 in Chicago, something was about to happen that would result in the killing of a 17-year-old African-American young adult; the suppression of a videotape by the city of Chicago; the necessity of a judge to order the city of Chicago to release the videotape; a state’s attorney who waited approximately one year to bring a first-degree murder charge against a Chicago policeman; a $5 million payoff to the McDonald family before the videotape was released and a civil suit being filed; and the mayor of Chicago (Rahm Emanuel) being accused of suppressing the incident for political reasons.

A resident had reported to police that there was a man breaking into trucks and stealing radios. When police arrived on the scene, they found Laquan McDonald. He was carrying a folding knife with an approximate 3-inch blade. The police ordered him to drop his knife, but he just walked away from them. With at least seven police officers already on the scene, another police officer (Jason Van Dyke) arrived. Within 30 seconds of his arrival he shot McDonald 16 times. It took him all of 16 seconds to empty his gun into McDonald. At no time was McDonald being aggressive or acting in a threatening manner.

One of the police cars had a dashboard camera that captured the entire event. After the court ordered release of the video, the entire nation was shown a bad cop who acted as judge, jury and executioner. He had killed a 17-year-old kid. His miscreant behavior brought great dishonor and disgrace upon his profession.

Another disturbing aspect of this incident: there seems to be a belief that some police officers adhere to an unspoken, unwritten code of silence. The oath of that code is “Thou shalt not ‘snitch’ on thy fellow officer.” For those policemen and women who adhere to this code, you bring dishonor to the uniform you wear.

With the advent of cellphones and iPads that can take pictures and videos, the American public is now seeing many of these acts of brutality with a disproportionate number of victims being African-Americans. Makes me wonder how much of this has taken place over the years prior to the cameras.

Now for the good cops. It is my belief that the vast majority of police throughout this nation are good and honorable people. They protect those who cannot protect themselves. They aid those who cannot aid themselves. They are sometimes placed in an infinite number of scenarios from life–threatening to life-saving. They are selfless in their dedication to their fellow man. Their importance to society is incalculable, and we owe them the utmost gratitude for what they do.