This town's police department is out of control, which you know if you've been following our stories. So it's heartening to see them make an example out of a cop who didn't turn on his body cam during the shooting of a 19-year-old suspect. (With, of course, the traditional possibly-planted police gun.) I'm not sure that's the proper policy, though -- I think it would have more of an effect if a cop is docked a week's pay anytime his camera is off:
The feds may have declined to target any specific officer that may be contributing to the pattern and practice of abuse but at least in the case of the shooting of Mary Hawkes the APD showed it might be interested in actually disciplining officers contributing to the department's problems.
Officers of the APD are equipped with body cameras. Footage from such cameras has helped bring attention to questionable police shootings like that of a knife- or brake pad-wielding man in December or that of a homeless camper in Marchthat sparked protests across New Mexico.
The officer who shot and killed Hawkes did not have his lapel camera turned on. He insists he turned it on prior to the encounter but it was off and the manufacturer said they couldn't determine if the officer was being truthful. Now the officer, Jeremy Dear, has been fired.Reuters reports:
Police Chief Gorden Eden said in a statement the officer was fired for "insubordination and untruthfulness" over the uniform camera issue after an internal probe, but stopped short of linking the firing to the circumstances of the shooting itself.Dear has not been charged in the incident."Insubordination tears at the fabric of public safety especially when the officer makes a choice not to follow a lawful order," Eden said in the statement."In imposing the discipline of termination, I considered the seriousness of the acts and omissions, aggravating circumstances and Officer Dear's disciplinary record," he said.
Dear's lawyer insists the APD isn't being fair to his client and is trying to "set an example" by firing Dear. "If they fire every officer who doesn't turn on his uniform camera, they won't have anyone left on the department," said the attorney.
Well, them's the breaks. The APD has one of the highest per capita killing rates in the country for a police department. The DOJ, although deferential to cops, nevertheless identified serious, systemic problems with the APD—problems that have been around for decades. Yes, it seems like the APD is setting an example with Dear. And set an example they should—the department's officers appear out of control.