One of Radley Balko’s readers over at The Agitator found this piece of… advertising… for “The Learning Channel’s” new series called “Police Women of Broward County” that follows some female Broward County Florida sheriff’s deputies around to catch law enforcement gems of wisdom like “There’s always a good time to taser someone.” as spoken by one of the stars of this reality TV series.
Clearly these law enforcement officers must exemplify the image of desired law enforcement attitude that TLC wishes to support, or else they wouldn’t use one of the officer’s more questionable tag lines in advertising like this. Though, after seeing the show and looking through our tracking database, I think I have a much more appropriate advertising slogan for TLC to use since they feel like glorifying this kind of behavior…
…especially considering the stories of police misconduct coming out of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office lately, for example:
A Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy speeding through residential roads on his way to roll call because he was running late left a teenager severely brain damaged after his cruiser collided into the boy’s car. While the deputy was cited for the crash and a jury later found Broward County responsible to the tune of over $30,000,000, the county, sheriff’s department, and lobbyists hired by the insurance company have been pressuring the state legislature into denying the claim even after the county and its insurer lost the case on appeals. Having run out of cash due to the expensive care and treatment their son requires, the teen’s family have to suffer seeing their son, who made progress in rehabilitation, backslide due to lack of treatment.
Then there’s Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Grady who recently plead guilty to two counts of misdemeanor battery for sexually assaulting two women during traffic stops. The plea deal offered to the deputy has stirred accusations of favoritism against the department and the prosecutor because of the reduced charges and because an additional case was dropped in exchange for his agreeing to never being a law enforcement officer in Florida again (though with only misdemeanors on his record he could find employment in another state).
While the two charges he plead to involved his groping women that he detained during traffic stops, the case that was dropped was much more serious. That case involved allegations that he held a gun to a woman’s head and raped her. Prior to these incidents, Grady had been investigated over 17 times on different allegations of sexual assault and battery during traffic stops, leading many to wonder how many victims this deputy really left in his wake and why he never spent a moment in jail during his arrest or after his prosecution.
The most recent case, however, involves Broward County deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss who was recently arrested on allegations that he’s sexually assaulted as many as eight different illegal immigrant men, some as young as 17 years old. Investigators suggest that Bleiweiss hand-picked his alleged victims while on duty and then repeatedly coerce them into having sexual encounters with him. All of this after he was named officer of the year in 2008.
It’s little wonder that misconduct like this appears commonplace considering how the deputies the department chose to represent them on national television act while on camera by glorifying arbitrary use of force and demonstrating unprofessional and derisive attitudes towards those they are sworn to protect. That TLC would choose to endorse this behavior only magnifies the effect of this misconduct by encouraging other officers and future officers to mimic it.
This is, perhaps, a prime example of how the current law enforcement culture is reinforced, by the glorification of abusive attitudes and use of force in the media. The fact that the public eats shows like this all up only serves to teach law enforcement officers that this is the way they should all behave… and ensures that those people who love watching others become victims of police misconduct will be even more at risk to becoming a victim themselves because of that support.
UPDATE: Reader Michaelk42 says the TLC PR people have a twitter that you can reach out to and let them know what you think about their great new PR campaign glorifying arbitrary use of the taser by law enforcement. Go drop them a note at http://twitter.com/TLC_PR. Thanks Michael!