- By Lt. Tim McMillan
"This Is Crazy!"
"Have you seen the video of the nurse being arrested? Look I don't mean any disrespect, but when I saw it the first thing I thought was, "F-the police." - "I know this is the kind of thing you stand up against, but just as a citizen as an average person, when I see something like that I makes me not want to like any cops except for you."
That was a conversation between me and my 16-year-old son. The video he was referring to is the same one that a significant number of people had been messaging me and asking me about starting late Thursday night. It was the video of the July 26 arrest of a nurse in Salt Lake City after she adhered to the hospital's policy and refused to allow blood to be drawn from an individual who was unconscious.
The reality is everyone who reached out to me, including my son, did so because I just wanted to hear that what they saw in the video wasn't right. They wanted to hear it from somebody who wasn't the free thought project, occupy Democrats or even the media at all. Rather, they wanted to hear somebody from within the law enforcement profession confirm out loud what they already knew and could see.
Because, no one's eyes deceived them, indeed... this was wrong.
The video filmed July 26th showed an exchanged between Alex Wubbels, the charge nurse at the University of Utah Hospital burn unit and Salt Lake Police Detective Jeff Payne.
The entire basis of the disagreement between Wubbels and Payne was over the refusal to allow officers to draw blood from an unconscious accident victim.
On the video captured by officer’s body cameras, nurse Wubbels can be seen very calmly explaining the hospital's policy, which was in accordance with state and federal law. Additionally, the policy was one that the police had signed and agreed to abide. In addition to adhering to hospital policy, Ms. Wubbels was performing her duty and obligations as a medical professional to protect her patient's rights. You have to have respect for Ms. Wubbels for standing up for the patient in this instance. Especially given the fact the patient was incapable of speaking for himself since he was in a coma.
The entire incident including nurse Wubbels’ arrest would be a moot point had the police had probable cause to support that the patient was driving under the influence. If probable cause had existed, the man could technically have been placed under arrest and a search warrant for his blood could have easily been obtained.
However, there was no probable cause and the patient was actually the victim of a car collision that had occurred as a result of another man who ran from the police.
Essentially, there was no reasoning based on the information available so far that substantiates any reasonable basis for why the police would have wanted a blood draw on the man in the first place.
It has been reported that the arrest of nurse Wubbels was made on the orders of the police shift Watch Commander. Indeed, officers are obligated to obey commands from supervisory officers, provided those commands are lawful. Conversely, officers have the same legal obligation to refuse an unlawful command.
It is merely speculation; however, I assume that Detective Payne was unaware that the initial request for the patient’s blood or the subsequent command to arrest nurse Wubbels were in fact unlawful. That is the only way I can explain why the officer would place himself and the police department in such a position of liability, to begin with.
Of course, I cannot pretend to be oblivious to the manner in which Detective Payne went about arresting nurse Wubbels. His behavior at the time of arrest gave the appearance that he was annoyed and angered by her refusal to disobey hospital protocol and the law. Truthfully, at that moment his actions appeared to have very little to do with the application of justice in accordance with a violation of the law. Rather, his actions at that point seemed like they were based on the fact nurse Wubbels had committed an act of “Pissing off the Police.”
As she was being arrested nurse Wubbels repeatedly exclaims, “I’ve done nothing wrong! I’ve done nothing wrong! Why is this happening? This is crazy!” Ultimately, the charge nurse was correct. She hadn’t done anything wrong and it is crazy that the entire event happened.
Often times, when an incident that is inarguably wrong occurs, we will hear people say "well 99% of cops are good, it is only the 1% that makes us look bad."
I don't know what the exact statistical range is, however, I do truly believe that the vast majority of law enforcement officers aim to serve their job professionally and nobly. I will stipulate, in my opinion, there are certain inner-professional cultural aspects that contribute to a disconnect between the public and the police. However, I do not believe these are acts performed in malice. Rather, they are merely happenstances in a lack of holistic perspectives when it comes to our actions as the police.
Now, one of the hardest things to get across to others in the police profession is why it is that the 1% bad are the only incidents that make the news. In truth and the reasoning is quite simple. The 99% good done by Law enforcement officers is the expectation of the public, not the exception.
Essentially, police officers are expected to perform their jobs honorably and ethically. Therefore, just like anyone else, there is very little fanfare for doing a job you're expected to do. This is not to say, that there are not plenty of examples of police officers being recognized for exceptionally good acts. Indeed, this does frequently occur in the media.
However, it is unquestionable that incidents like what occurred with nurse Wubbels in Salt Lake City are the type of incidents that elicit the most potent emotional responses. There is a very good reason for this as well.
The public, as a collective, provides the police with some of the most significant authority of any individuals on this entire planet. The police have the authority to take people's God given birthright of freedom and provides them with the legal and logistical means to take human life.
When you really consider it, that is a tremendous amount of power granted to a small segment of the population. When we get upset because Colin Kaepernick wears pig socks or people march down the road chanting "F$&# the police!" one has to wonder why do we get so mad? The power that those individuals are granted pales in comparison to the responsibility of authority that we in law enforcement yield. Essentially, it is the power we are granted by the society that is the “reward” for our 99% unspoken good actions.
At the end of the day, the criticism we will see is merely an inherent side effect of the power we possess. The public wants to know that we are using the authority we are given appropriately and responsibly. Additionally, the public wants to know that when breaches in the contract between the police and the public occur, individuals will be held accountable.
Ultimately, these are the reasons that so many people become outraged at an incident like what occurred with the arrest of nurse Wubbels. The public can see themselves in the position of this charge nurse and wonder what if I was in her position? People can support the police 100%, however, what are they supposed to do when supporting the police means violating the law or the ethics of their own profession?
We cannot pretend like all of us in the entire police profession are not in one big boat. We can't act like an incident such as this doesn't affect us because it's only a hole under Det. Payne’s seat on the boat. No... ultimately, any holes in the boat indeed can cause the public's perception of us to sink.
So the best thing we can do when something like this occurs is to come out and say what it is... it was wrong. By demonstrating we can discern between right and wrong, that is the only way we can encourage the public to have faith in the police.