Philadelphia Daily News Ronnie Polaneczky column
Mar 08, 2013 (Philadelphia Daily News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
YOU KNOW ALL those Philly cops who packed the courtroom last week for former Lt. Jonathan Josey
Their cheers were so jubilant when Judge Patrick Dugan acquitted Josey of assault, it would be easy to assume that their euphoria was shared by all Philly cops.
No way, said an officer who reached out after reading my column about Josey.
I'd written that the verdict was a disgrace. Who, I ranted, could view the videotape of Josey slugging a woman after the Puerto Rican Day parade last summer and conclude that it was anything less than a deliberate clobber
"The verdict is a complete joke," agreed the veteran cop -- let's call him Lou -- who has been on the force long enough to have seen "more than his share" of cops acting badly. He predicts that Josey, who was fired after the incident, will be reinstated.
"The sad fact is that most cops will welcome him back with open arms, and that's pathetic," said Lou. "I'm proud to be a Philadelphia police officer, but sometimes it's a very tough row to hoe."
Lou was not the only lawman who believed that Josey had gotten away with behavior that would've landed anyone else in a lockup. Two retired and disgusted detectives also called to say that the videotape -- which they'd analyzed frame by frame -- was evidence enough that Josey was guilty.
All three requested anonymity because, as the officer noted, "It's not a thin blue line that separates us from the public. It's a thick one. Crossing it is a betrayal."
Still, Lou met with me this week to lament how the Josey verdict will make his own job harder.
"Philly cops are already looked at like a gang of blue that runs roughshod over the city," he told me over coffee, looking pissed and frustrated. "This is gonna make that perception 10 times worse, especially in places where tension between the police and the community is already bad.
"I didn't hit that woman. I wasn't there. But it won't matter. I wear the uniform, so this reflects badly on me. So, we'll have a situation where police are even less respected and people are even less willing to cooperate."
Lou wasn't surprised that Josey was acquitted. He had a feeling that it might go that way, given the influence of the Fraternal Order of Police. But he was appalled that Judge Dugan, who is married to a police officer, didn't recuse himself from the case.
"[Dugan's wife] was even in the courtroom," he said. "How do you defend that "
He couldn't understand how Dugan, in rendering the verdict, could both concede that the video was "disturbing" and acquit Josey in the same breath. Didn't he wonder why, if the situation had been as threatening as Josey said it had been, that the other officers with Josey that day didn't go after the woman, too
I asked Lou why he thought the cops didn't try to hold Josey back.
"They're officers. He's a lieutenant. They're not going to cross him," Lou said.
Besides, he added, most cops won't intervene when they think a fellow cop is out of line. If the scuffle results in a complaint or lawsuit, they don't want to be accused of being involved in it. Nor do they want to be accused of siding with a civilian and not their comrade in blue.
Should we throw Josey a bone I asked Lou. Police work is tough. If a good cop loses it with someone who doesn't deserve rough treatment, should we be more understanding
"Look, we're expected to uphold the law. I've come this close to losing it," said Lou, holding his index finger and thumb half an inch apart, "when some drunk is giving me guff. But I've never hit anyone. You've got to know your limits. The gun and the badge don't give you permission to be an a--hole."
But if he ever were to lose it, the way he believes Josey did
"I would quit," he said immediately. "I would look at that videotape and feel ashamed of myself. My friends would say, 'Man, you effed up. Just admit it.' I wouldn't hire a lawyer and go to court and pretend I didn't do it."
Maybe, he conceded, if Josey had admitted that he'd lost it, apologized, asked the woman and the city for forgiveness, offered to take some anger-management classes -- maybe he'd be worthy of reinstatement.
But Josey never did. And those who support him should know that they're playing with fire.
"Blind faith in the police is a dangerous thing," he said. "We're human. We screw up. And sometimes, we should be fired. But I'm starting to believe that the only way a cop can lose his job in this city is if he shoots another cop during roll call."
And that, he said, should scare us to death.
On Twitter: @RonniePhilly
___ (c)2013 the Philadelphia Daily News Visit the Philadelphia Daily News at
www.philly.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]