Double standards. People inherently know they are wrong. If one person in my classroom gets a break on a grade, then all the people in the class get the same break. You don’t have double standards.
The police should not have double standards either. If someone performs some act that for one person is illegal, then it should be illegal for all people that perform that same act. In a constitutional sense, it is equal protection under the law. Bill Clinton should not be above serving time if that is what people have happen if they lie under oath. If someone breaks into a house and starts shooting, they should be held accountable for it. Evidently that is not the case for police that presume to be “doing their job” and “following procedure”. I tend to support the police, at least when they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. They of all people should know the law and what is and is not appropriate use of force. They of all people should know that ignorance of the law is no excuse. The individual officers involved in this should be held personally liable–not the department, the officers.
The present situation has come about because of immunity from prosecution for government officials doing things “in the line of duty.” The bad that the immunity was designed to prevent has become less of a problem than the bad it has generated. We (the people) initiated the policy of not prosecuting officers because we rightly felt that the police would be hesitant and at a disadvantage when they are in an explosive situation. The problem is that the police have gone to the opposite extreme.
If this was the only example, it would not be such a bad thing–especially if it had been a single offending officer and not a group of officers (not even one of the officers tried to stop his fellow officers?) But this is not the only incident where police have held a total disregard (or total ignorance) of the law. I do not think it is just me, but these things are happening more often. Some of it I can attribute to “brothers in arms” psychology that exists among police. These guys are “out there” and a lot of the people they meet are “the bad guys.” The problem is that they also need to understand that nobody is perfect, including themselves, and they need to hold themselves to the same standard they hold anyone else. That double standard thing.
I’ve been told (by someone I respect greatly) that nobody is going to follow the moral compass I hold. That is true. Even I do not completely pass muster on my own moral compass. But that does not mean the compass is wrong–it means we do not measure up. You don’t change the definition of 2+2 in order to make it so more people pass 1st grade. You keep the definition the same and you train the children that they must know the definition in order to pass. The standard stays, and those that do not pass the standard are judged by it.
Eliminate double standards.
P.S. While I think the protections the law affords for government officials ought to be removed, I do not believe more than a handful of police out of the thousands we encounter would find they would be subject to prosecution (even the prosecutors should be held responsible for their actions!) The vast majority of police are good people, but you don’t put in place protection for the rotten apples because the majority are good (which is the same about laws against murder–the vast majority of people do not commit murder).