On Wednesday, the Salt Lake City Police Department fired Detective Jeff Payne for his actions regarding the arrest of University of Utah Hospital Nurse, Alex Wubbles on July 26th.
This brought a conclusion to a case that raised so many eyebrows, it became one of the rare occasions in which virtually all sides of the political and social map agreed that the treatment of Nurse Wubbles was unprofessional, unlawful, and frankly, it was flat out wrong.
Payne's supervisor, James Tracy, was demoted two ranks from Lieutenant to patrolman as a result of Nurse Wubble's arrest.
That evening, as acting Watch Commander, it was Let. Tracy who ordered Det. Payne to arrest Nurse Wubbles. The nurses' only violation was that she correctly refused to allow the detective to take a blood sample from a comatose patient. To be clear, Nurse Wubbles was completely in the right in protecting the rights of her patient, based on hospital and police policy. Along with state and federal law regarding Criminal Procedure.
I have to be honest, after reading the Salt Lake City Police Department's Internal Affairs report and the Civilian Review boards recommendation, a month ago, I felt fairly certain that this was going to be the eventual outcome. In fact, the police department's review was actually far more scathing than the civilian review board's.
Now, I take no joy in seeing anyone lose their job, regardless of who they are. However, I highly encourage any of my fellow police officers to watch the video of Nurse Wubbles arrest, through the same lens that I examined it.
Honestly, when I first saw the video, I watch the Nurse as she was being dragged out of the hospital in handcuffs, screaming for someone to help her, and it disturbed me.
Consider for a moment what it would be like to suddenly have your God-given birthright of freedom suddenly and abruptly taken from you. Especially, when you were simply doing your job and were 100% in the right. I think if you consider this incident from that vantage point, you will suddenly realize, this is a terrifying position for anyone to suddenly find themselves in.
Ultimately, the arrest and detention of Nurse Wubbles was not just unlawful The entire way it was handled was unethical and not representative of what we should strive to represent. To put it bluntly, it appeared like the Detective's decision to arrest Nurse Wubbles came more from being infuriated at being told "no" than it did the administration of justice. These are the actions of bullies and not representative of responsible maintenance of power and authority.
We can never forget the significant power and authority that the public gives to law enforcement. In return, it is imperative that we always do our part to honor that contract with the public and try to make sure we do what is ethically right.
If you watch the video from the perspective of only the Nurse, I think that a lot of people will find they understand what I am talking about. Honestly, the moment you put yourself in Nurse Wubble's shoes you will find that it is a pretty sickening feeling hearing her yell for help.
Lastly, in that video, there were several other uniform police officers. I'm not going to mince words here, someone should have stopped this before we have a Nurse screaming for help because she's simply doing her job.
If you are in the police profession and have never considered it before, I urge you to consider today how you would handle this situation if you were there. Because you want to talk about "Thin Blue Line." Well, consider that your inaction might just very well help cause a crack in that blue line, and if might also cost another officer their job.
Because maybe Det. Payne was having a bad night that night. Or maybe his behavior was demonstrative of a larger more consistent problem. Honestly, I don't know. However, when it has reached the point were we are handcuffing a person and dragging them out of their place of employment because we're mad and they haven't committed a crime; these actions are indefensible and the outcome is the one we saw yesterday.
So if the only thing you are sad about is that a fellow police officer lost his job or another was demoted down to slick-sleeve. Well, you sure as hell weren't sad enough at the time to do anything to help them keep it.