Mimesis Law
22 August 2019

The Habits of “Highly Effective” Officers

November 7, 2016 (Fault Lines) — Meet Officer Denis Lawler, who, until recently was regarded by his employer, The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District in Chicago, as “highly effective” and whose conduct “sets an example for others to follow.”

Luckily, folks outside of the district recently got an opportunity to see just what a proud example this highly effective officer was setting an example for others when he accidentally keyed his radio handset while showing a rookie the ropes and his commentary was broadcast over a police radio frequency, which someone was recording. According to a copy of the audio, Lawler delivered a running racist, sexist commentary including these gems:

  • Everyone here is sleeping. The engineers, everyone that’s here on midnights, they’re all f—— sleeping somewhere, too.
  • Just assume everyone here is here on a phone call . . . everybody. (Referring to cronyism)
  • (Called a black colleague) a stupid Alabama field n—–” white guys should call Martin Luther King Jr. day, James Earl Ray Day. (In reference to the civil rights leader’s killer.)
  • Lawlor used the “c” word to refer to female colleagues.
  • (And he discussed “the apartment” — a secret back room where he said district employees would hide out, watch TV, sleep on a couch, play cards and drink beer, stored in a refrigerator there. He’s heard telling the rookie he was welcome to grab a beer whenever: “Help yourself,” but “don’t f—— take the last one.”

The district is trying to fire Lawler; he’s suspended without pay. But you have to wonder how effective a guy with these attitudes could be, or what kind of example he sets. Clearly, with those attitudes, certain segments of society are not well-served by having this guy behind a gun and badge.

Police departments are entities that thrive on internal self-congratulations. Few other vocations encourage the idea that, with the simple act of showing up for work each day, you are a special hero. Simply doing your job, such as arresting an armed bank robber, can get you a citation for valor. Just ask former officer Brian Smith.

In 2012, three Florida cops were given awards while under investigation into their shooting of a 73-year-old security guard. The department apparently gave awards for “impressive work” even though the “work” amounted to simple marijuana arrests or arresting someone who had multiple cell phones.

A pair of other Florida cops were given awards for:

Selfless, honorable and brave actions.

After killing a computer engineer named Jermaine McBean, who was walking down the street with an unloaded air rifle in his hands. A photo emerged of McBean laying on the ground with what appeared to be ear buds still in his ears and a cop’s foot on his torso, throwing doubt on the notion that he could have heard the cops’ commands and further doubt on any selfless or honorable actions on their part.

How many of the NYPD cops caught in this 9/11 racket were decorated cops; at least a few. Looks like these guys set a great “example.” When you see how many cops turn out to be rapists or some other form of sex offender, it certainly throws a question mark over the circumstances surrounding the processes for giving out commendations and medals, especially when it’s revealed that the officers were raping women and young girls over an entire career.

In the eyes of many cops, qualification for a medal of valor is killing someone. If others don’t agree, too bad, as in the case of a group of SWAT team officers who killed 107-year-old Monroe Isadore in a standoff instead of just waiting for him to fall asleep like 107-year-olds are prone to do. The recipients are voted on by an awards committee made up of three people appointed by the chief and three elected by the department, which sounds like they are all cops or retired cops. Not everyone thought it was a good idea, and at some point the city council voted to rescind them. City councilwoman Thelma Walker summed it up to the local CBS affiliate:

I don’t understand the rationale, I don’t understand why anyone would want a medal, who can you show it to? Oh, I have a medal of valor, well were you in the war? No, I killed a 107-year-old man…you know…who would want that?

It’s clear that Isadore shot at the police, but he didn’t have a hostage and it appears they escalated the situation. But the State police declined to investigate and the officers hired a lawyer, initially refusing to return the medals. They have since returned them, possibly due to the significant local attention to the matter.

To be sure, there are cops who do heroic things. They serve their community; they show up to work not expecting a medal or commendation. Let’s be clear: Showing up for work and doing your job simply doesn’t warrant any special recognition. Police departments who lavish awards and special recognition on employees for mundane tasks are only perpetuating an internal circle-jerk that serves as a disconnect between the department and community.

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