SPRINGVILLE — “Training Day.” “Cop Land.” “The Untouchables.” “Pride and Glory.” “Serpico.” “Street Kings.”
Movies have been made about it. Books have been written on it. Terms like “blue wall of silence” and “brotherhood” are tossed around like they actually mean something. Special license plates, bumper stickers and police family IDs act as “get out of jail free” cards.
The disparity between how police officers treat the average individual and how they handle their fellow law enforcement agents has long been protested. People whisper and grumble about cops who fly down the street, disregarding every law known to mankind, while police officers’ family members smile and boast about the various infractions they got out of, just because they knew the right person.
Someone at The Buffalo News apparently decided that this inconsistency had gone on long enough.
On Sunday, Sept. 30, Buffalo News Staff Reporter Matthew Spina greeted Western New York with his investigative article, “The blue line protects off-duty cops behind wheel.”
Kudos to The News and to Spina, who slammed law enforcement agencies all over Western New York for repeated abuses of power, calling out many officers and politicians by name. Spina pointed to police men and women who looked the other way when their fellow cops, who have sworn to protect us, drove under the influence, left the scene of accidents, mistreated citizens and more. Cops who really believe they are above the law.
The News called the bluff of officers who claimed they were honoring a so-called “brotherhood” by not charging other cops. It is about time that someone challenges this unspoken bond that might protect cops from embarrassment and hassle, but also creates a huge disparity and exposes the rest of us to unsteady drivers and uncontrolled egos.
Professional courtesy? The Blue Line? Abuse of the Vehicle and Traffic Law? Protecting each other, regardless of the cost? It all means the same thing, and retired police officer Tim Dees summed it all up very nicely for The Buffalo News: “You deal yourself out of the game – in the minds of these guys – if you don’t give a break to another cop. So I’ll lay down my life for you, but if you write me a ticket, you can go to h***.”
It won’t change the world, but perhaps this article will change the way some cops think and begin the reform our law enforcement so desperately needs.
To read Spina’s hard-hitting investigative story, visit www.buffalonews.com and check out the City and Region section.