Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Police Chief Allegedly Wants to Cut Budget Deficit by Paying Defense Attorneys in Moving Bullets

Among other less-than-becoming behavior, Durham, NC, Police Chief Jose Lopez is alleged to have responded to a local criminal defense attorney being shot on a city street by remarking that the man deserved the bullet "because he is a public defender." (http://www.wral.com/complaint-durham-police-chief-said-public-defender-should-be-shot/12851548/)

While the good chief is claiming memory loss, he hasn't foreclosed the possibility that he indeed made the comment, and he's mostly concerned that the allegation was publicly disclosed.  An investigation into the complaint against the chief continues.  (http://www.wral.com/durham-police-chief-apologizes-for-shooting-comment/12858054/)

Another local criminal defense lawyer reacted by penning a letter to city officials taking Chief Lopez to task because the comment "'displays a significant lack of appreciation of the importance of the work that criminal defense attorneys and public defenders do.'"

Coming to the chief's defense was a former Durham police officer, who claimed that people outside the department just don't understand Chief Lopez.  "'He really cares about the people that work under him, and I think he cares about the community.'"

For this post, let's put aside the deliciously disturbing idea that a retired, 27-year-veteran of Chief Lopez's department isn't sure if the chief actually cares about the community he is entrusted to serve and protect - in fact, it could be argued that, in a philosophical sense, the only thing Chief Lopez should care about is the community.  And, for now, ignore that, in the context of the chief's position, the alleged comment could be understood as threatening (which the great state of North Carolina has criminalized (http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_14/GS_14-277.1.html), as has California in Penal Code section 422).

What our ex-cop and our congenial southern lawyer fail to grasp is that Chief Lopez - POLICE CHIEF Lopez - allegedly views it as a positive thing that a citizen of his city WAS SHOT ON THE STREET.  When you control what amounts to the army of a fairly large city - the fourth-largest in the state (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham,_North_Carolina) - it is tremendously important what your sentiments are toward people being shot in public, whether they are defense lawyers, plumbers, IT specialists, college students, transgender prostitutes, police officers, mediocre coffee-shop-open-mic comedians, or even meth dealers.

If he made the comment, Chief Lopez has laid bare his belief that it's okay for people to be shot on his streets, which makes it readily apparent that he cares very little indeed about the community.

And, he should be repeatedly thanked for his candor, and fired immediately.