A Cleveland Police Spokesman in King Arthur’s Court
July 19, 2016 (Fault Lines) – No, he doesn’t care if it’s constitutional. But you should care that he doesn’t care. Because he’s a police union boss, and his delusions are dangerous.
The head of Cleveland’s largest police union is calling on Ohio Gov. John Kasich to temporarily tighten the state’s gun laws during this week’s Republican National Convention following Sunday’s shooting in Louisiana that killed three officers and wounded at least three others.
“We are sending a letter to Gov. Kasich requesting assistance from him. He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point,” Stephen Loomis, president of Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, told CNN. “They can fight about it after the RNC or they can lift it after the RNC, but I want him to absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over.”
That’s the same Steve Loomis who said Tamir Rice’s family should spend the settlement money they got because Officer Timothy Loehmann shot their toy-carrying 12-year-old son dead on “educating youth of the dangers of possessing a real or replica firearm.” He’s also the guy who gloated in front of reporters after Officer Michael Brelo was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter in a bench trial. (Brelo jumped on an unarmed black couple’s car and executed them by firing 47 rounds through their windshield.)
So Steve isn’t a paragon of good taste. Of course, he is a police spokesman, and in that job, that can definitely be an asset. Civic literacy isn’t his strong suit, either. That isn’t too great when you think about it, but it’s probably of some use to him in his work.
You see, if Cleveland cops were a little better informed about the Constitution, maybe they wouldn’t be under DoJ supervision because they violated people’s civil rights so egregiously the feds noticed of their own accord. Unlike in Philly or Chicago, there was no ACLU lawsuit. Just a string of charming incidents like kicking handcuffed and helpless men in the head over and over again, punching kids in the face and tasing people in the backs of ambulances. Ignorance is bliss. And if the CPD cared about the Fourth Amendment, Loomis’ job would be a lot more boring.
But as Loomis’ statement proves, there are a couple of things that cast doubt on his ability to adequately represent Cleveland’s police. For one, his grammar’s too good: compared to the granddaddy of quasi-official public-sector bloviation, New York’s Pat Lynch, Loomis verges on the coherent. Just look at this:
We are going to be looking very, very hard at anyone who has an open carry,” he said. “An AR-15, a shotgun, multiple handguns. It’s irresponsible of those folks — especially right now — to be coming downtown with open carry AR’s or anything else. I couldn’t care less if it’s legal or not.
Hardly any pointless passive tense. Comprehensible syntax. “Couldn’t care less.” This is unacceptable. Lynch shows us how it’s done.
Singer Bruce Springsteen has begun performing in concert a song called “American Skin”—the title seems to suggest that the shooting of Amadou Diallo was a case of racial profiling—which keeps repeating the phrase, “Forty-one-shots.” I consider it an outrage that he would be trying to fatten his wallet by reopening the wounds of this tragic case at a time when police officers and community members are in a healing period, and I have let his representatives and the press know how I feel about this song.
That’s more like it. As a rule, if it’d get you 3 points on the SAT essay, it’s good police advocacy.
But the real reason why police and civil libertarians should team up to condemn Loomis is his naked contempt for the Constitution. Naked! He explicitly said he didn’t care. This is deeply offensive, and here’s three reasons why.
First, it’s contrary to police union best practices. Only an inexperienced spokesman would say something like this, then double down on his mistake by incompetently protesting how deeply he cares.*
We are constitutional law enforcement, we love the Constitution, support it and defend it […]
That’s just not convincing when your last sentence was “I don’t care if it’s constitutional.” Lynch had a better solution when the New York Civil Liberties Union challenged his cops on stop-and-frisk:
Our main objection is that, as usual, the NYCLU’s idea is born of the assumption that the good men and women who wear the uniform of the NYPD and risk their lives to keep New Yorkers safe are doing something wrong. Frankly, that’s insulting to the very police officers who provide the freedom from fear and crime enjoyed by all New Yorkers, including members of the NYCLU.
Nice! Now it sounds like police officers are the source of liberty. Give that man a taxpayer-funded raise.
Civil libertarians and constitutionalists should be especially angry about the Loomis statement. It’s important to note that his objection to Ohio’s open-carry regime isn’t a Second Amendment issue so much as one of separation of powers. If Ohioans decide they’re dissatisfied with their state’s (lack of) gun laws, they can tell the Ohio lege to come up with constitutional alternatives. What they can’t do, at least without looking ridiculous, is beg the governor to remake the laws by monarchical fiat. To his credit, Governor Kasich immediately said he wouldn’t do it:
Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested.
Let the absurdity of that sentence sink in for a moment. That it had to be said at all, much less to the man who heads up the state’s largest police union, is excruciating.
Adding to the impression that Loomis thinks he’s living in medieval England rather than modern America are statements like this:
[…] you can’t go into a crowded theater and scream fire. And that’s exactly what they’re doing by bringing those guns down there.
Hear that “pop?” That’s the sound of Fault Lines contributor Ken White’s head exploding. This sentence probably set some kind of record for constitutional ignorance.
We’ve got to consider the possibility that when Loomis admitted his contempt for the Constitution, he wasn’t talking out of youthful police-spokesman enthusiasm so much as genuine, earth shattering dumbness. Let’s humor him for a second and imagine an Ohio where open carry has been suspended. Loomis says it’d make cops safer. Would it?
Aside from the general wisdom of gun laws in a time when gun-free zones like France are continually rocked by mass murder, there’s a Cleveland-specific reason to be skeptical. Video of Tamir Rice’s killing proved that Officer Frank Garmback, Loehmann’s partner, drove right up to Rice, putting both cops in immediate proximity to a guy they believed was threatening people with a real gun. If Garmback’s behavior was representative of the CPD at large, they don’t seem to be that intimidated by open carry.
In a time when even the ACLU likes its unconstitutionality with a side of denial, Loomis’ insistence on dropping the mask and letting the real police attitude to civil liberties shine through is unacceptable. He’s manifestly unfit for his job and the people of Cleveland should demand he be fired.**
**Just kidding. Public sector union.