“Protect and Serve” means do better than this.

All lawyers are expected to do their jobs, no matter how obnoxious their clients may be, and it seems that the lawyer for Officer Eric Casebolt, aka that one in McKinney, TX, who is now famous for pinning a bikini-clad 14-year-old to the ground, has basically given up on saying anything interesting. Amanda Marcotte at RawStory gives us this word salad:

“The video that everyone has seen only depicts a small part of Eric’s actions that day,” Bishkin said, noting that Casebolt had responded to two suicide calls earlier Friday that took “an emotional toll” on the 10-year veteran of the force.

“With all that happened that day, he allowed his emotions to get the better of him,” Bishkin said. “Eric regrets that his conduct portrayed him and his department in a negative light. He never intended to mistreat anyone, but was only reacting to a situation and the challenges it presented.

Oh, dear oh dear oh dear. “Eric regrets that his conduct protrayed him and his department in a negative light”? Not that he’s sorry about assaulting that child, or that the call was bullshit in the first place, but he’s sorry about how it makes him and the department look.

Fine, I’ll assume that Officer Casebolt cannot say anything to the effect of, “I’m sorry about how I handled that girl, and I hope she’s okay” without fucking up his case. The content of his lawyer’s excuse of the day is that he had just handled two suicide calls and the stress was making him do things he shouldn’t have.

We hear this a lot, when we discuss police brutality. We’re told that policing is a really stressful job, so we need to be understanding with police officers, and withhold punishment when they fuck up.

I get it. I really do. I have no doubt that policing IS a very stressful, emotionally exhausting job. I have no interest in being a police officer! I don’t envy them.

Here’s the thing, though: there are a lot of stressful, tiring, emotionally taxing jobs that need to be done. For most of those jobs, we expect the people doing them to be able to handle their stress in a way that doesn’t endanger the people who depend on them to do their jobs appropriately. In other words, we expect people to be better than the rest of us before they take those stressful jobs. Policing should be no different. We need our police to be better than this at handling the stress of their work. If they’re not better, they should find other ways to make a living. Ways that don’t include a license to perpetrate violent acts on the bodies of unarmed children.

If police are the only ones we’re expected to forgive, repeatedly, for taking out their emotional exhaustion on the bodies of regular people like defenseless bikini-clad 14-year-old girls, why is that? Is there something about policing that attracts more than its fair share of shitty personalities? Almost like the schoolyard bullies grew up and needed to make a living.

Now, think of how stressful it is to live in fear of the people who are supposedly here to “protect and serve” us. How exhausting it is to associate the blue uniform with the threat of being killed for no good reason.