Are the Police Ever Not to Blame?
As if police work wasn't challenging enough before simple, lawful commands were seen as abuses of power by our elitesBy Jim Glennon | Aug 13, 2018
Highland Park, Mich., police responded to reports that a woman was threatening people and breaking windows at the Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church on June 24.
Upon arrival police officers learned that the woman also assaulted a 13-year-old girl visiting from Virginia.
The officers met with the church’s pastor, the Rev. David Bullock, in the parking lot area of the church. Rev. Bullock told the officers that he believed the suspect “might be mentally challenged.”
At some point, Officer Bartynski walked up to the 13-year-old victim and members of her family. He was polite and professional. He asked the girl the basic questions necessary for an investigation and completion of a report. When he queried about her name and address, she and the family willfully and respectfully provided that information.
What I have just described is an example of what police officers do day-after-day. In the vast majority of the cases, these scenarios are uneventful. And contrary to what many want to believe, officers are polite, empathetic and professional, while most victims and witnesses wish to be cooperative.
In this case, only one person can be in charge. Only one person should be talking to the witnesses and taking information—confidential information, as it is—from the victims. That person in this case, Officer Bartynski. No one else should inject themselves into the investigation.
This is too much, it seems, for Rev. David Bullock.
While the officer was engaged in conversation with the victim and asking her for an address, the reverend stepped physically into the interaction and began interrupting Officer Bartynski.
Bullock: “What’s this all for?”
Officer: “What’s all what for?”
Bullock: “This information?”
Officer: “Are you serious?”
Bullock: “Yeah, I’m asking.”
Officer: “She was assaulted by this lady. Wouldn’t you think that if I completed a police report I’d put the victim in there?”
The pastor then tells the officer he has the right to ask. The officer tells him he has the right to ask but adds “you’re interfering with my investigation so I’m going to ask you to step aside.”
The pastor’s response to this reasonable and lawful order?
“I’m not going anywhere.”
The officer explained to Mr. Bullock that if he didn’t step aside that he would be arrested.
“Arrest me,” he said, as he stood firm.
The officer then says incredulously, “It really needs to come to all this?”
The pastor, who was standing between the officer and the women he is trying to interview begins explaining what he was saying and why he was saying it. The officer tells the reverend that questioning the women is his job and he was indeed taking care of it.
So, again, the officer tells the pastor that he’s “interfering.” The pastor responds, “You’re out of bounds.”
Officer Bartynski continues trying to explain to the women what he needs as Bullock continues talking over the officer.
Gesturing with his hands to stop, the officer asks Bullock, “Will you stop? I’m trying to talk to them.”
“Are you getting ready to hit me or something?” says the reverend.
The officer responded sarcastically, “Yeah I’m getting ready to hit you. I’m pointing.”
Bullock then tells the officer, “You are really aggressive.”
Finally, Bartynski says, “I need you to step back” and grabs Bullock by the arm and pushes him firmly but certainly nonviolently to the other side of the street. Though he had plenty of probable cause to make an arrest, it was clear that’s not what the officer wanted to do.
Before the officer walked back to the women, he clearly told Bullock he was going to be arrested if he interfered with the investigation again. Barynski walked away telling Bullock to stay on the other side of the street.
But Bullock immediately disregarded the warnings and disobeyed the orders walking right back to where he was moments earlier, in front of the officer.
At that point, an exasperated Bartynski arrested Rev. Bullock and placed him in the back of a squad car. A female parishioner then approached the squad and began talking to the pastor. She was calm and concerned in her tone. She asked the pastor to cooperate. “Don’t tell me to cooperate! This is called racism!”
Then screaming at a group of confused and emotional parishioners the reverend said to all who could hear him, “What ya’ll need to do is open this door!” In other words, he was imploring them to commit a crime: aid in an escape. Obstruct the police.
No matter how reasonable the woman talking to the pastor, Bullock’s anger only heightened yelling at all within earshot, “Ya’ll the scardest ni**ers I’d ever seen in my life!”
The woman, who obviously talked to Officer Bartynski, continued pleading with him to cooperate. She told Bullock, “He (the officer) said he might let you go.”
The reverend’s retort to that overture of civility, “Ain’t no fuckin’ might! If he don’t fuckin’ let me out of this car there’s going to be a problem!”
The woman, gently said, “He will, he will.” But his anger continued as he screamed to his parishioners, “Ya’ll gonna just let this cracker do this shit?!”
What was ironic, as you will see and hear in the video, as the Christian pastor is sitting in the back of the transport squad, the officer’s FM radio is on a Christian station. The song playing as the pastor is swearing and using racist terminology? Falling in Love with Jesus.
I’m not going to detail everything Reverend Bullock said over the course of the video. But what I will say is that this is a sad state of affairs we’re in.
Elites criticize peace officers with impunity. They talk about the “epidemic of police violence” and “systemic racism.” And this has consequences. People, like Rev. Bullock, apparently, have come to see police, laws, and, ultimately, our democracy as illegitimate.
Upon his release the pastor again disparaged the entire police profession stating that racist arrests like his are why the community doesn’t cooperate with the police.
Let’s consider this specific incident. Once Bullock clearly states he isn’t going to obey the officer, what are Bartynski’s options? Let him continue to interfere? Allow the pastor to give his uneducated opinions to the victim and her family? Wait until the pastor has confused and delayed the process for as long as he likes?
The Truth of Deescalation
Some will say the officer could have recognized the pastor’s emotional state and ‘deescalated’ the situation. I find two problems with that.
First, there are no magic deescalation words or phrases, no matter how hard many want to believe there are. Second, the pastor’s emotions are not as important as the officer talking to the victims and getting information about a crime.
I read one article where someone mentioned the victim didn’t want to press charges. So what? She was a victim of a crime. The officer has to make the decision concerning whether to arrest the perpetrator. The victim’s feelings and wishes would obviously be considered, but the process is more complicated than just a refusal to sign a complaint. The lack of a signature does not prevent an arrest for the assault.
Everyone has a bad day. But for many obvious reasons this pastor should acknowledge his mistakes, ask forgiveness, and extend an olive branch. His position has power. What’s he doing with it?