Lorain, OH — Police discretion, according to the Law Dictionary, is defined as the decision-making power afforded to police officers that allows them to decide if they want to pursue police procedure or simply let someone off with a warning. The Free Thought Project has reported on multiple incidents in which cops have used their discretion to affect positive change or help those in need. However, the incident described below is, unfortunately, not one of those stories.
Charlie Rolko, a father of four, was rushing his 7-year-old son to the hospital earlier this month after he’d fallen and received a deep gash that was bleeding heavily. Naturally, Rolko, who had his three other kids in the SUV with him, was driving a little fast as it was an emergency.
“My son fell and had a deep cut. He was in pain and was bleeding so my main concern was to get him to the hospital,” Rolko told Fox 8.
However, his haste would be in vain after an Ohio State Patrol officer targetted him for revenue collection. Rolko admits that he was driving 10 miles over the posted 25 mph speed limit—hardly serious criminal behavior.
When the trooper walked up to his window, the dash cam footage shows Rolko asked her to let him go. To show what a stand-up man Rolko is, he wasn’t asking to be let off for the ticket, he simply asked the cop if she could write him the ticket after he got to the hospital to stop his son’s pain and bleeding. Unfortunately, the trooper wanted nothing of this.
Instead of using her police officer’s discretion and realizing that the right and heroic thing to do would’ve been to allow Rolko to go to the hospital or even escort him there, this trooper insisted on keeping the father and his bleeding child at the scene so she could issue him a ticket.
“She said if it was life-threatening, we can call an ambulance but I told her he needed stitches and we didn’t have the money for an ambulance,” Rolko said. “So she said we would need to stay and be processed at the scene.”
According to FOX 8, a spokesmen for the Ohio State Patrol told them Rolko was given a warning for speeding, and for not having two of his children in booster seats. He was given a ticket for not wearing his seatbelt.
To be clear, his kids were buckled in, just not in the right booster seat for their age. Also, according to Rolko, he did have his seat belt on, it was just under his arm.
“I guess when I got in the car, I was in such a hurry I had the seat belt under my arm and not over my shoulder,” Rolko said. “I understand the tickets. I just wish they could have showed some empathy and followed us or escorted us to the hospital and issued the ticket there.”
Empathy, however, was not an option.
This news story could’ve been so much different and filed in our archives under ‘good cops’ had this trooper simply done the right thing—using her discretion—and escorted Rolko to the hospital.
The trooper could’ve been hailed as a hero. Instead, however, now she’s responsible for stoking more animosity toward police.
Two quick examples that show the power of police discretion can be seen below as well.
In 2014, dashcam video captured the disturbing last moments of a man’s life as he’s detained by a Chippewa Falls police officer on the way to the hospital.
29-year-old Casey Kressin died after suffering a severe asthma attack when the vehicle that was rushing him to the hospital was pulled over by a Chippewa Falls police officer.
After they were stopped, Kressin’s girlfriend immediately starts to beg the officer to take him to the hospital. The officer instead calls for an ambulance.
The couple was just 3 miles from the hospital when they were stopped. It took over 6 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. The time added to the stop by the officer was too much and Kressin died on the side of the road because the officer failed to use his discretion and escort them to the hospital.
However, here’s what happens when officers use their discretion, they’re hailed as heroes, and rightfully so.
Also, in 2014, Helen “Skeeter” Smith found out her son was gravely ill and in the hospital.
The 87-year-old jumped into her car in southern Nevada and began her 350 mile, high-speed drive up I-15. Not long into her drive, she “buzzed past” a Utah Trooper who immediately pulled her over.
When Helen told the trooper what her situation was, she was then let on her way. However, that was only the beginning.
When Helen went to leave, she accidentally put the car in reverse instead of drive, sending her car slamming into the state trooper’s car behind her.
That’s when something completely out of the ordinary happened – instead of being cited, or otherwise detained, Trooper Jeff Jones began what would be a chain reaction of heroism. He actually gave her a ride from Fillmore to Juab County.
Once the pair made it to Juab, Smith was handed off to Trooper Chris Bishop, who drove her to Salt Lake County.
There, she was given to Andrew Pollard in Draper, who drove Smith all the way to Ogden Regional Medical Center.
“I ended up taking four patrol cars,” said Smith. “Four good-lookin’ patrol boys brought me.”
Because multiple cops all chose to use their discretion and chose to help—instead of extort—Smith finally made it to the hospital room to see her dying son.