By: Megan Leung
Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Shamere Collins. Erica Noonan. Sean Bell. Alton Sterling. Over the course of the last ten months, 949 Americans have been killed by uniform-wearing policemen (killedbypolice.net). Whether it be sexual misconduct, planting of evidence, use of excessive force, or false arrest, police malpractice is occurring with troubling frequency and little consequence. Oftentimes, racial profiling is found to be the source of this misconduct. Corruption and malfeasance has stemmed from this mindset; Alex Wubbels, head nurse of the University of Utah Hospital burn unit, can attest to this claim.
On July 26th 2017, reserve officer William Gray was admitted to a hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, under Nurse Wubbels’ care. Officer Jeff Payne appeared at the scene, requesting blood samples from the unconscious patient. Wubbels, following hospital policy, declined the officers’ request, and went as far as to print out the policy, stating clearly that police can only draw blood if they have a warrant, patient consent, or if the patient was under arrest—none of which were in place. Payne resorted to unjust measures, and roughly dragged a petrified Wubbels out the hospital doors.
To worsen the situation, Lieutenant James Tracy, the watch commander who called for the arrest, arrived on scene and told Wubbels that if there was any misconduct, all of it could be wiped away. This mindset has been spreading; just a few months ago, body-cam footage revealed Baltimore police planting false evidence after they expressed that they needed to make an arrest. Footage shows the officers covering up a bag of illegal drugs, walking away from the scene, and then walking back to “discover” the same bag. The officers performed such actions with full awareness of their exposure, reassured that the court system would cover up their corruption.
After the incident with Wubbels, Utah Legislature unanimously decided to draft a bill for a law that will make it clear when law enforcement can draw blood without a driver’s consent. Yet, laws of this nature were already in place and they were broken—what about these new laws will yield police cooperation?
In the end, redundant laws won’t help. More training won’t help. A simple reprimand and paid leave won’t help. The only solution is to hold these officers fully accountable for their actions. They should not feel comfortable in breaking the law or violating citizens’ rights because they feel that their position will protect them. Police should be held to the same legal standards, because if law enforcers don’t follow the laws they enforce, how should the public be expected to follow the laws? If police are consistently not punished for their illegal actions, they will continue to make the same mistakes. The criminal justice system, the other police officers, and even the public need to stop making excuses for these corrupt cops. Stop trying to justify the unjustifiable, and start convicting these officers.