Austin, TX — The 20th-century invention of the dashcam has arguably opened the eyes of the collective world to the once guarded mysteries of how police departments operate. And what they're revealing, as brought to you by The Free Thought Project, is there's one standard of behavior the public is held to, and an entirely different one for law enforcement, apparently.
One of the latest examples of this comes out of Austin, Texas, not surprisingly.
Police dashcam footage shows a man speeding at dangerously high rates of speed. The video, captured on February 18th, shows a man in a dark SUV going as fast as 88mph. Later, the man was going 92mph at one point in the pursuit. After the Austin PD deputy pulled the car over, it was discovered the man driving the car was none other than the Asst. Chief Chris McIlvain.
After the deputy learned he'd just pulled over one of his superiors, the higher-ranking officer was let go with just a simple verbal warning. No traffic violation was given to the assistant police chief. He was only told to "be safe."
Interim police chief Brian Manley discovered the incident later and addressed his concerns with the media. Chief Manley said, "This community would look at this incident, and I think that they would believe that had it been them when they were stopped, they would not have been treated in the manner in which our officer was treated."
Manley then ordered his deputies to issue McIlvain a ticket in the amount of $195 and opened an investigation into the high-ranking law enforcement officer's actions. The investigation concluded, not surprisingly, by stating he'd done nothing illegal by taking a city-owned vehicle over 100 miles from the city to Waco, something Manley said was within reason.
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"How are we going to continue to build trust and faith within our community if we're not holding ourselves to the same standard (everyone else is held to)," he said after discussing his feelings and actions with reporters.
It's that same double standard to which Manley alluded that is of major concern to TFTP and the public at large. It's one thing to get away with speeding, it's an entirely different conundrum when police literally get away with murder. One such killing still sparks outrage, fear, and contempt for police, even years after the slaying.
Deven Guilford, a seventeen-year-old Easton County, Michigan teenager was killed by a police officer in 2015 after the teen flashed his lights at a police officer whose headlights were too bright for Guilford's eyes. Sergeant Jonathon Frost was apparently angered that Guilford flashed his lights and pulled him over. Understandably, Guilford may have believed he was doing Frost a favor by letting him know the lights were blinding.
When Guilford recorded the incident on his cell phone, it seemed to anger Frost that much more. An argument led to an altercation, and Frost chose to end Guilford's life, an action for which he has not suffered any loss of employment. Guilford's parents are suing Frost.
We want to know what would have happened to the police officer had he grabbed McIlvain, pulled him out of the car, beat him mercilessly, drew his weapon, and ended his life. That's the reality some citizens face when they're pulled over by police. Those are the real world encounters some, like Guilford, don't survive. That's what the police still don't seem to understand.