Checkmate! America Police Officers are the only people who can officially use deadly force absent wartime. Moreover, they have been given one of the most powerful tools not yet truly understood by our American society, “discretion.”
This is not the first time a city mayor has been arrested in the US. Over the past years, it seems that it has almost become regular news. Local mayors have faced charges ranging from fraud to extortion to incidents of illegal drugs and prostitution. All of these cases have brought both disappointment to the voters as well as presenting the human side to politics.
The recent arrest of East Haven’s Mayor, April Capone Almon, is the epitome of why there is a need to reform “modern day policing.” Looking at the incident from both views, everyone was right. According to the reports in the New Haven Register, this incident erupted in the beach parking lot on July 19, 2009. When an East Haven Officer used his discretion to tow cars located in and around the lot that he constituted were in violation of local parking laws.
The story goes that the East Haven Police Chief had issued a memo instructing that cars not be towed. The Mayor was aware of the memo. She showed up to the beach parking lot. Saw the officer towing the ticketing and towing the cars.
“Capone Almon defended what she did in the midst of the beach towing, saying, “We know what the situation was … I showed up at the lot” and “foremost in my mind was the memo from the chief that cars should not be towed. I saw cars being towed.” “I tried to call the chief. He did not call me back immediately,” although he did call back soon afterward, Capone Almon said. She said she did what she thought was best in the situation. “I understand that there is a demarcation between my responsibilities and the Police Department’s responsibilities, but I acted to protect the people of East Haven and the people whose cars were towed without any warning or reason,” Capone Almon said. “I don’t know, perhaps, I should have just offered them a ride home.” .New Haven Register
There is much irony in this incident because East Haven has been long plagued with police community relations issues and that when the issues came back to city hall, the Mayors haven shown slow to no movement on the issue. On April 14, 1997, what would start out as routine police patrol of a minor traffic complaint ended in a police chase (two white East Haven cops) with the unarmed 21 year old Black male, Malik Jones fatally shot dead. To the more recent claims of racial profiling of Hispanics/Latin America which resulted in the arrest of Father James Manship Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009. The second layer of irony is that had Malik Jones survived, the main charge would have been “interfering with a police investigation” (a Misdemeanor) which is the same violation of law that Father James was charged. And now, it has landed on the beach front steps of Mayor April Capone Almon ending in her high profile arrest.
The realities are apparent that there is still a wide misconception about the police and exactly what is likely to happen when. Even though the Mayor of East Haven is a white female, this excerpt from the book could apply to anyone in America who engage police. Author Shafiq Abdussabur writes in A Black Man’s Guide To Law Enforcement In America pg 38, “The irony is that most of these complaints are filed after a citizen has been arrested during that motor vehicle stop. And, when the Internal Affairs Division begins to investigate the case, the investigator finds that, in most cases, the citizen became loud and rowdy with the officer, which led to the officer arresting the citizen for disorderly conduct or interfering with a police investigation. In all cases like this, the charges are classified as a misdemeanor and could have been avoided if the citizen had utilized one basic but valuable tool, courtesy. Yes, believe it or not, it is often a person’s ego that gets him a free ride to detention. Historically, most circumstances that have involved conflict between police and young African American and Latino/Hispanic males have been the result of a “failure to communicate” by all parties. What you need to know is if the police come up short on communication skills, it will not result in the officer going to jail. You will be the one to pay the price! So pay close attention!”
Like the incident with Henry Louis Gates, Mayor April Capone Almon, will more that likely beat this case and have it thrown out of court. This was no more than a show of force by a beach town Mayor and a beach patrol cop that started out as a “Breach of Peace” and will ultimately end in a “beach of peace.” As many of the bloggers have stated that “no one is above the law.” This fact may be true. But in the American Criminal Justice, there is “the art of law.” And one must have the proper race and status to play this game. Stalemate!