If you illegally bind and transport someone, it would be called kidnapping. If you illegally strip-search someone, it would be called sexual misconduct, maybe even assault, at best. If you did this to a teenager, the charges would increase. If you said disparaging things about the person’s religious beliefs while doing so, you may incur charges of a “hate crime”—a federal felony.
If you did all of these things, you would go to jail for a long, long time.
If a cop does them, however, he or she gets to keep their job with the time-off bonus of additional “training.” That’s all.
This is, at least, exactly what we learn from the case of a group of Maryland police officers who illegally arrested 18 pro-life protesters, strip-searched them (even the teens), and denied them fundamental rights—all based on a lie.
After failed attempts at changing the charges to suit its losing position, the State is now settling out of court at the low cost of merely covering the victim’s legal fees. The cops who committed what should now be viewed as a series of crimes have been let off almost entire free, being required only to attend additional training on the First and Fourth Amendments.
Infowars.com covers the story well:
The incident occured when members of the group Defend Life peacefully demonstrated on public property in Hartford County in August, 2008, as part of their “Face the Truth” campaign.
Around a dozen State officers arrived on the scene and told the protesters that they did not have a permit and would be arrested unless they packed up and left.
When asked what specific ordinance said the demonstrators needed a permit to protest, one officer responded “I’m not getting into it at five o’clock at night… I’m a State police officer, I know the law – THAT’S IT.” . . .
The protesters repeatedly asked the first officer who threatened them to call his superiors and double-check the ordinance. he absolutely refused even to check the law. Nor would he give the name of his commanding officer so the protesters themselves could check.
At one point in the discussion, the cop can be heard asserting, “It’s not what the law is, it’s what I’m telling you the law is.”
But the tyranny and abuse had only begun:
Attorneys with the anti-arbortion groups the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), the Thomas More Society of Chicago, and the American Catholic Lawyers Association revealed that after their arrest, the protesters, including women and young girls, one as young as 14, were put into leg shackles and strip searched twice, while being denied the right to make phone calls, and make contact with lawyers. The protesters were kept in jail overnight.
Reports indicate that the first strip search took place in the police station parking lot in full view of male officers. The second strip search was conducted at the Harford County Detention Center. . . .
Attorney Tom Brejcha revealed that “following the arrests, one police officer stated over the radio that as far as she was concerned the protesters could ‘sit in a cell for an hour… or three or four and rot.’”
And the worst part of this episode is that the State “vigorously defended by the municipalities and the state police.” When it finally settled out of court, the State got of merely with covering the legal fees of the victims, and its agents of force have only the additional responsibility now of receiving additional training and essentially promising not to do it again.
In my opinion, someone should consider seriously the possibility of a suit not merely in defense but against the State. Operating outside of the law, possibly knowingly, refusing to check, refusing the victims the chance to check, and then arresting, strip searching, holding, and denying fourth amendment rights—these are not mistakes, they are crimes. The moment those cops acted outside of the law, they should be held accountable accordingly: assault, kidnapping, sexual assault (whatever may apply), and sexual assault on a minor. This should be exposed and prosecuted. Police should not be allowed to exercise their force outside of the law.
Not confronting this and letting the cops off easy is essentially encouraging such behavior in the future.