EDITORIAL: Another black eye in the wake of police reforms


All she wanted was her daddy.

Instead, the crying 9-year-old girl handcuffed in the backseat of a Rochester police car got a face full of pepper spray, courtesy of the local police.

If you watch the video, you’ll find yourself both sickened and infuriated by the images.

Just as you might have been last March when officers from this same police department placed a bag over the head of a naked, mentally disturbed Daniel Prude, let him lie in the cold road, then subdued him in such a way that he died of asphyxiation.

Just as you did when you watched the video of police suffocating Eric Garner to death or kneeling on the throat of George Floyd until he died.

While police agencies like those in our area are working with community members, government officials, civic groups and others to change their policies, incidents like this just keep happening — setting back efforts to make progress on reforms, undermining the authority of police and negating the daily threats they face.

Just Tuesday, two FBI agents were killed and three others wounded in Florida serving a warrant on a child porn suspect.

Incidents like the one in Rochester distract us from the dangers of police work.

The three officers involved in the Rochester incident with the child were immediately suspended from duty. That’s progress. It took Rochester officials months to release the video footage of Prude’s arrest and more time punish the officers.

At the very least, we can say public officials are being more proactive addressing these incidents than they were in the past.

That’s the result of more public exposure and more public demands for change.

One wonders what it’s going to take to bring an end to these types of incidents.

It would help if police unions and the courts would start adhering to the new state law that requires them to release police disciplinary records, instead of fighting their release at every turn. Transparency in the disciplinary process helps expose and remove officers who are unfit for duty, and also clears out the bad cops who give the many good and decent cops a bad name.

It also would help if government officials and police agencies continue to condemn such actions in their strongest terms and take quick action to remove bad officers.

After Garner’s death, many police agencies and legislators banned choke holds. Police agencies need to continue to adopt policies that prohibit abuses. You wouldn’t think they’d need policies or laws against pepper-spraying children. But then you wouldn’t think an officer would resort to such tactics to control a crying little girl.

Finally, citizens need to keep up the pressure on police for reforms. Continue attending community meetings. Continue peaceful protests. Continue to lobby your public officials at all levels for tougher regulations and more transparency.

Continue to support police, while continuing to make sure their actions are confined to serving and protecting us.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

One Comment


“Just as you did when you watched the video of police suffocating Eric Garner to death or kneeling on the throat of George Floyd until he died.”

Both individuals chose to resist arrest. The chose to gamble with their lives and lost. If they were functioning adults their choices should be respected If the they were handy capped it is clear that we need to provide the police with a way to cop e with the chooses of the impaired.

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