Time for Introspection

The poison fruit of apathy

By David Magnusson  |   Nov 3, 2018
Jusepe de Rivero

It is good—no, let me rephrase that—it’s quite necessary for me to look in the mirror and carefully, honestly, and methodically self-assess what I am about. As a law enforcement professional, my self-assessment deals with my actions, as well as those of my brother and sisters who put on the uniform, pin on the badge, and walk out their homes every morning, afternoon, and night protecting the citizenry.

Why the Need Now?

I recently retired from the Havelock Police Department following a 30-year career with the Miami Police Department. I am extremely proud of my nearly 34 years in law enforcement. I feel like a great ball player who had a wonderful career with two teams, even if one team showed many more years than the other. Think Joe Montana with the 49ers and later the Chiefs (no pun intended). I like baseball better than football, so how about Albert Pujols (who left my beloved Cardinals to play for the Angels)?  You get the point.

So, being back in South Florida, you can only imagine my dismay and pain when I learned ( via the media) the other day, that three Miami Cops were arrested by federal authorities for charges that ran a gamut up to and indulging selling their uniform to dopers and running cover for them. I knew two of the three officers. I liked them. I found them to be good people.

So I ask myself: When did this happen? When did these disgraced cops cross the Rubicon to a point of no return?  What were the signs, if any, that were obviously missed—or even (lord forbid) disregarded?

Tip of the Iceberg?

Whenever an act of police corruption is uncovered, one must ask, as if a cancer patient, “Doctor, did you cut it all out? Is there any chance the cancer will return?” What lifestyle changes must you make in order to improve you survivability odds? Like a cancer patient, we should be fearful but also angry.  We must be resolute and remind ourselves at every possible moment that we will get through this. We will beat this thing!

So What Should You and I do?

Police corruption cannot be tolerated. In fact, a neutral response, an apathetic response, is probably worse than a “pro-corruption” view point.  Why? Because, police management knows how to deal with pro-corruption law enforcement. However, police management finds it very difficult to root out the “silent”  non-aligned cop who could give a damn (one way of other). 

Police cannot remain on the sidelines and preach neutrality on issues like this. This is not World War II and we are not Sweden, Switzerland, or Spain. We really must take a side.

And the only side to take is an adamant disdain towards any cop who is corrupt. He or she is not my brother or sister. He/she is not worthy of my benefit of the doubt. I am so damn sick and tired of the “neutral” cops reminding me that he/she was railroaded and/or innocent until proven guilty. Yes, theoretically, you are right. But these are usually the same “neutral” cops who are awfully quick to declare that some criminal on the street is guilty as all hell, even though very little evidence seems to exist.

You’re right I’m pissed after I learned of corrupt cops tarnishing the badge and uniform of my old agency. You’re also darn right that I have no patience or compassion for thugs in uniform. I am adamant that this sort of trash needs to be rooted out of law enforcement in this country. But it will not happen quickly enough if they are cushioned amidst apathetic neutral cops who are too fearful to demand the highest of standards from their brethren in blue.

The Minority

The very vast majority of law enforcement is hard-working, honest, fair, men and women who illustrate the very best of humanity.  My concern is with the “apathetic neutral” crew. I will end with this question: If lord forbid you had cancer and the doctors were able to get it out, how would you feel if they told you “there still exists some cancer possibility in your small toe”?  How would you react? 

How about this quote?

“A policeman’s first obligation is to be responsible to the needs of the community he or she serves. The problem is that the atmosphere does not yet exist in which an honest police officer can act without fear of ridicule or reprisal from fellow officers. We create an atmosphere in which the honest officer fears the dishonest officer, and not the other way around.”

I hope things have changed ten-fold since Frank Serpico said this decades ago. 

I would ask every law enforcement officer to look up and read Frank Serpico’s October 2014 article, “The Police are Still out of Control” from Politico Magazine.  It’s well worth the read. I guarantee you will be shaking your head, asking “why?”

Final Word

Regarding police corruption, when do we get up out of our chairs, open the window, stick our heads out, and yell, and say it: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

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David Magnusson

Magnusson is the chief of police for the Village of El Portal Police department. Prior to this, he was police chief of the Havelock (N.C.) Police Department. He also spent 30 years with the Miami Police Department, retiring there as a major. Magnusson is a graduate of American Military University with a Master's in Military history. Chief Magnusson also boxed as an amateur for twenty-six years. You will find his passion for history and boxing in many of his writings. Magnusson and his wife Rosa reside in South Florida, where they have five children and two grandkids.

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