With all the criticism police officers get today--and never let it be said that it's all unwarranted--today's reminder is that police are put in difficult positions almost every day. As somebody once said, most times a police officer has an interaction with a member of the public, that citizen is having the worst hour of his week. How'd you like for that to be part of your job description?
A traffic stop Monday in North Little Rock, Ark., proves that, no matter how polite, accommodating and neighborly a policeman might be, he can still be in grave danger in a routine matter.
Because of a patrol car's dash cam, the world can see the interaction in the North Little Rock matter at this Youtube site: https://www.youtube.com/embed/xPy77WhCALs
The paper said two men were arrested after patrol officer Michael Johnson was dragged about 25 yards during a traffic stop. The video shows Officer Johnson approaching the driver's side of the vehicle, explaining the seat belt law a bit, attempting to de-escalate the situation while getting information about the people inside the car, and generally doing all the right things. Even being friendly.
Reports said that when a dispatcher reported over Officer Johnson's radio that one of the people in the car had active warrants, the driver started to drive away: "Johnson reached into the vehicle to put it in park and became stuck with his upper torso caught inside the driver's-side window." The video shows him being dragged across a busy street before he breaks loose and falls to the ground.
Officer Johnson was taken to the hospital after the incident. Luckily, he was released. It could have been much worse. For proof, watch the video.
The driver of the car was charged with criminal attempt to commit capital murder, among other charges. The passenger in the car was charged with solicitation to commit capital murder, among other charges, too.
First, dash cams help everything in these situations. So do body cams. They should be as standard as night sticks or handcuffs for police officers. People--officers and citizens--tend to act better when they know they're being recorded. Most times.
Second, what happened Monday in North Little Rock shows that police put their lives on the line even when they pull somebody over for a possible seat belt violation. An officer can go from a conversation with a citizen to being flung across a busy city street in seconds flat. Think about this video the next time somebody on TV says the country should de-fund police.