A guest post by Robert W. T. Short, Sr.
By now everyone reading this has seen the video released last week of Cpl. Eric Casebolt throwing a teenage girl to the ground, sitting on her, and pulling out his gun on some teenage boys. But I’d like you to watch it again, see if you notice the breath taking aspect of it that the media has ignored. When Cpl. Casebolt pulls his gun out, the other officers, who are not fearing for their lives, do not stop him. Cpl. Casebolt is obviously emotionally disturbed, but the other officers ignore that. Why?
Well it might be that those cops were hoping he would open fire on the teens, I highly doubt it though. So what would cause two seemingly rational people to ignore a threat? Could it be that cops have found out that trying to keep other cops honest is detrimental to their careers? In case after case the police officers who defend the public against bad cops are punished. In Virginia a police officer who asked that some out of state cops obey the speed limit was told, “there is no room for people like you in law enforcement.” And that is not the only case it happened in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, and many, many, more.
As we have been told by economists since Adam Smith, incentives matter. If you incentivize something you get more of it. If you incentivize cops not to report, or stop other cops from breaking the law, then you get fewer cops who will report or stop other cops. But that then incentivizes cops to break the law, since you eliminate most consequences of doing so. In fact if we wanted corrupt police, then we have set up a system that is optimal for providing that. This is why whistleblower protections are so important. As long as we, as a society, insist that good cops live in fear for their lives and careers we cannot expect the system to improve.
I mentioned earlier that Cpl. Casebolt was emotionally disturbed, I think from a neutral viewing of the video that this is obvious, however, I am not a psychologist, I was not there, so where do I get off saying that? Well Cpl. Casebolt himself said as much. He released a statement in which he apologized to those her hurt and explained how much of a toll going from one suicide to the next, including one where a man shot himself in fron of Cpl. Casebolt, took on him. When I first read that I was shocked, how could an officer leave a scene where a man kills himself in front of his very eyes and then be expected to immediately respond to a disturbance call? Not to excuse his actions, but what kind of supervisor would allow that to happen? If someone commits suicide in front of you, ten minutes later you are not emotionally ready to work a checkout at Walmart, much less to have a gun and attempt to enforce order. So more than just an investigation into Cpl. Casebolt’s actions at the pool, there needs to be an investigation into why he was there in the first place.
Finally, I must commend Cpl. Casebolt, while he made a very bad mistake, at least he was man enough to admit to it and apologize. In this he is an example to everyone of what we should expect from those in Law Enforcement.
R.W.T. Short, Sr. is a US Army veteran of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. He is a civil libertarian and Veteran’s Rights activist, as well as a political consultant. He lives in Lynchburg, Va. with his wife of eight years, their three children, their dogs Bellum, Maria and a colony of former stray cats his daughter adopted. He can be reached via email at Robert.W.T.Short.Sr@GMail.com and on Twitter at @RobertShortSr.