The executive director of North Carolina’s Police Benevolent Association says there is a ‘conspiracy’ against the Fayetteville Police Department and is seeking a federal probe of those lodging complaints against that department. Here’s an excerpt from an editorial from the Fayetteville Observer:
John Midgette, head of the N.C. Police Benevolent Association, has treated us to a doozy of a warm-up act. Let’s watch and see what else he’s got.
Midgette, presumably speaking for the organization and its membership, last week delivered himself of an oration against unnamed conspirators bent on undermining the Fayetteville Police Department.
Chief Tom Bergamine, who leaves the department June 18, wasn’t there to hear his jurisdiction described as awash in crime and “a cesspool of corruption and anti-police hatred,” and offered no immediate comment.
Only one specific emerged – a recent allegation, not supported by police videotape of the incident, by a black motorist who accused the officer who stopped him of having used a racist slur. But the gist of Midgette’s complaint seems to be that the department has been the object of too much public scrutiny and too much free speech.
“People can’t just scream ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater and act like it’s protected speech,” he said. He’s right. They can’t. But who did that, and when, and when do we get to hear their names and a detailed account of their conspiratorial abuse of the First Amendment?
What did the conspirators do that drove officer morale to an all-time low – and who provided him that datum, anyway? In what way are officers finding it hard to stop heavily armed thugs with high-powered weapons from “preying on Fayetteville”?
Perhaps we’ll find these things out once Midgette has taken his allegations, whatever they are, to the U.S. Office of Civil Rights and demanded an investigation.
For now, we’re left to speculate – based on his extreme unhappiness with the City Council’s decision to heed the advice of its consultant – that this all harks back to the long-running controversy over “consent” traffic stops and the great racial disparities found in police stop data. Midgette seems to be implying that it was somehow wrong of public officials and city residents in general to concern themselves with those disparities.
That’s odd. Others, including officials with no dog in the fight, examined the data and found that concern entirely reasonable. Failing to address it could very well have exposed the city to costly lawsuits. The consultant’s recommendations, almost all of which Chief Bergamine has embraced, resulted from a city’s proper concern for its own interests.
Fayetteville is putting its house in order. If the Police Benevolent Association regards that as subversion, it’s getting bad advice from somewhere.