Now that Police Appreciation Week is upon us, rather than criticizing the hundreds of cases of brutality affected by law enforcement on civilians each year, it would be good to remind everyone that the term good cop isn’t necessarily an oxymoron. Though corruption and violence may permeate many departments, good cops have repeatedly tried to stand against their less honest colleagues — but all too often run into the Blue Wall of Silence for their efforts.
Whistleblower cops need all of our support if we ever hope to solve rampant issues now inundating life in Police State, USA — and what better time to revisit eight of them than Police Appreciation Week.
Former Wilmington Police Sergeant Curt Stansbury came forward in 2014 when his department’s morale seemed to be at an all-time low, in an attempt to suggest solutions. Stansbury explained,
“In June of 2014 I told the chief that moral [sic] was the lowest that I have seen in 25 years and that officers were doing the minimal and a lot of in fighting was going on. I told him that rookies were being hazed and pressured to quit. I informed him that divisions were not communicating with each other and that the communication was at an all-time low and that is cause of some of the violent crime issues.”
Not surprisingly, after calling out the problems, Stansbury was fired.
“Shortly after this, I was told that the chief had made it open season on me and wanted to discredit me. He wanted to prevent me from going public and having creditability [sic]. After this, my work life became tremendously stressful,” Stansbury wrote in a letter to local media outlets following his termination.
Repercussions, up to and including the loss of a job, are unfortunately common for whistleblowing officers.
Retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray Lewis has become well known in activist circles for standing against the dark turn toward violence and corruption by departments nationwide in recent years. During the Occupy protests, Lewis appeared, in full uniform, denouncing what amounts to the corporate takeover of policing in America.
“It’s an oppressive organization now controlled by the one percent of corporate America,” Lewis asserted. “Corporate America is using police forces as their mercenaries.”
Lewis has also appeared at demonstrations and protests around the country, including in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police shooting death of Michael Brown, where he stated, “Number one, I want to give the residents of Ferguson the knowledge that there are some police that do support them. I want to try and get a message to mainstream America that this system is corrupt, that police really are oppressing not only the black community, but also the whites.”
Lewis tirelessly delivers his message to a public that often blindly believes police can do no wrong, simply because they sport a badge.
Former Dallas Police Department rookie officer Shanna Lopez was terminated from her new job in 2006 after coming forward to superiors about coworker and 26-year veteran officer, David Kattner — who had been severely mistreating and otherwise unjustly targeting prostitutes while on the job.
Lopez claimed Kattner and two other officers would write bogus tickets to harass prostitutes — and would keep their victims’ names and addresses in a log.
Kattner’s intimidation, harassment, and bogus ticket-writing scheme so bothered Lopez, she came forward with the allegations. Despite her stellar record — including a commendation — Lopez was abruptly terminated.
Despite her best efforts to alert superiors to her deviant and vicious colleague, nine years after Lopez was terminated, Kattner was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman, while he was in uniform and using his patrol car.
That victim could have been spared a horrible ordeal if Lopez’ superiors would have listened years before instead of terminating her as if she had been the one doing wrong.
Former Buffalo Police Officer Cariol Horne stands as an example of what it actually takes to be fired as a cop — all it takes, as she and others have unfortunately discovered, is doing the right thing.
Horne had 19 years on the job when she witnessed fellow Officer Gregory Kwiatkowski punch a handcuffed suspect at the scene of a domestic dispute the two were investigating. Horne and other officers removed the suspect from the scene, but Kwiatkowski then proceeded to choke the handcuffed man.
When Horne stepped between the out-of-control officer and the suspect, she too received a blow to the face from Kwiatkowski — for which she rightly tried to defend herself.
Ultimately, despite her best efforts to step in for the benefit of someone else against an irate officer, Horne was terminated — for striking Kwiatkowski, who denied the entire incident had happened as she described. As to be expected, Kwiatkowski’s violent tendencies eventually led to his termination — but the subsequent violent incidents could have been avoided if Horne’s supervisors would have simply listened to her complaints.
Former Los Angeles Police Officer Alex Salazar developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following a violent incident while he was on the job. Since retiring from the force, he has worked tirelessly to bridge the disconnect between law enforcement and civilians they serve — but also to reveal how use of force policy and the culture of fear in policing has led to many of the incidents of police violence that make headlines.
“The profession of law enforcement is difficult at times,” Salazar told The Free Thought Project previously, “but the excessive brainwashing on a daily basis taking place, that you may die, is too extreme and gives many the belief it is OK to use deadly force. In many of these situations, Tamir Rice or Andy Lopez comes to mind, these officers just wanted to plain shoot and kill.”
Salazar previously participated in a delegation in Washington, D.C. — as part of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform, and Accountability — to appeal to lawmakers to help end the violent system that encourages abuse by police.
He now works as a private investigator in Los Angeles and still works to reform American policing — in short, he hasn’t stopped blowing the whistle on a system in desperate need of reform.
Former Baltimore Police Det. Joe Crystal blew the whistle on two fellow officers after he witnessed them beat a handcuffed man, breaking his ankle. Crystal testified against the two, which ultimately secured their convictions — but he suffered for the decision to speak out.
Dead rodents were placed on his windshield and in his locker, and was repeatedly harassed, ostracized, and denied promotions simply for telling the truth. Crystal ultimately succumbed to the Thin Blue Line’s intimidation and resigned from his position.
The community started a petition following his resignation to attempt to have Crystal reinstated — particularly since his actions evidenced integrity often rare in modern policing.
“I would love the chance to help the people of Baltimore,” Crystal told The Free Thought Project of the petition.
New Jersey Police Officer Roberta Tasca lost her job after stopping two coworkers from assaulting Kyle Sharpe, whom they had been called to assist. According to Tasca, the pair tasked with aiding the emotionally-disturbed son of a former Bogota, New Jersey, city council member, instead tackled the man, punched him in the head — and even threatened his father.
“In that moment,” recalled Tara, Sharpe’s mother and the former council member, “my son was jumped and punched, had [Tasca] not been there to protect him, I can say with certainty things would’ve turned out quite differently.”
After being fired, Tasca told a local news station, “Being fired means I did something wrong. I know I didn’t. I protected that kid. I did what I’m supposed to do.”
Evidencing her justifiable decision to step in on Sharpe’s behalf, Tasca eventually won back her job.
New Albany Police Officer Laura Schook was unsurprisingly fired for calling out rampant corruption in the force — including padded overtime and discrimination by her fellow officers.
In her situation, Schook’s supervisors had also participated in that corruption.
“My supervisors [were] padding their overtime, stealing time from the city, also doing other jobs while they were at work, essentially being paid for two jobs at one time,” Schook explained in an interview.
Both the police chief and assistant chief asked to be reassigned within the force, stepping down from their supervisory roles, following Schook’s allegations. But Schook was actually fired for bringing their corruption to light — despite the indicative request by her superiors to step down.
“I believe that it corroborates what I said,” Schook told WDRB. “There has to be some truth to what I said or they wouldn’t be scrambling around like they are.”
Schook’s attorney agreed, saying, “She is being disciplined for bringing those allegations to light.”
Whistleblowers face backlash for doing the right thing and standing up for justice against the powers-that-be — but perhaps none so much as those daring to stand against the Thin Blue Line. During Police Appreciation Week, police whistleblowers everywhere deserve our support.