Benny Warr and Police Trust

In case you are not aware of the Benny Warr incident, this is the case of a black man in a wheelchair who was waiting for a bus when the police decided to clear a corner.  I am not sure why, but the police tipped the wheelchair over and quite aggressively arrested him for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.  Benny claims he got hurt in this incident.  Now, if you have not watched the video please do before we continue.

There are only two possibilities here and the first is that Benny was being disorderly.  In this case the police were presented with an angry disabled man in a wheel chair.  The danger he posed to the public could not have been great, yet the police acted with extreme force.  The problem with this is that even if he was in the wrong, this action will scare the public and create fear of interacting with the police.  Such a violent attack on their part was far in excess of the threat and will only alienate the public, which only makes their job harder.

Of course the other possibility is that Benny was really doing nothing disorderly, which means the actions taken by the police are criminal.  In this case, the department needs to publicly and openly investigate and punish the misbehaving police officers.  After all, such unwarranted attacks unravel years of trust building exercises.  Further, other officers need to understand that this is not proper procedure and it will not be tolerated.

Either way this incident is another wedge between the public and the police department and one of the major problems in Rochester. The situation was so bad last year the department had an advertising campaign reminding the public to call the police if they see a crime.  Meanwhile the closure rate on crimes is at a 10 year low; there is a huge section of the population who mistrusts and fears the police.  This is one of the major problems with public safety in Rochester and, if you watching the video, is it any wonder why?

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