Monday, March 28, 2005

# Posted 10:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHEN DOES THE MEDIA APPROVE OF POLICE BRUTALITY? When the perpetrator is a gay rights activist, of course. This morning, the WaPo profiled Sgt. Brett Parson, the head of the DCPD Gay and Lesbian Liasion Unit. I think the article will convince you that Sgt. Parson is an extremely talented public servant who done tremendous things for the citizens of our nation's capital. But this disturbed me:
Parson's file also shows he has been cautioned for being domineering and using excessive force. He freely admits to swatting a mouthy suspect on the back of the head or ratcheting the handcuffs a notch too tight. Parson is in the Early Warning Tracking System, a program that monitors officers with an excessive number of citizen complaints. "Guilty as charged," says Parson, who says aggressive policing brings complaints.

Unlike most sergeants in supervisory roles, he makes arrests, many not related to gays, such as catching a teenager on 14th Street NW one night with 36 bags of crack cocaine. Ramsey calls him "one of the best officers on the force, bar none."
And that's all we get to hear about accusations of Parson using excessive force. Should one presume that as long as an officer is open about ti, it is OK for him to swat "mouthy suspects"?

What happened to journalists looking for both sides of the story. It's not as if Anne Hull, the correspondent for the Post, didn't have time to look at the issue more closely. Her story starts on the front page and fills up two entire pages inside the paper, without advertisements. She clearly spent a lot of time working with Parson. Would it have been impossible to track down one of the "mouthy suspects" who might have been on the receiving end of one of those swats?

Now, I am generally of the opinion that police officers can't do their job with one hand tied behind their collective back. But what are we supposed to think of someone who admits to a reporter from a nationally renowned paper that he pushes the limits of acceptable behavior? And what are supposed to think of a reporter who doesn't find that newsworthy?
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