There are currently 17 major police and sheriff's departments under investigation for alleged civil rights abuses across the country. Those alleged abuses include the fatal shooting of a homeless Native American man on a street corner in Seattle, the killing of James Chasse, a 42 year-old schizophrenic from Portland, and the beating of an inmate in a South Carolina jail.
According to the Justice Department's report, "The pattern or practice of discriminatory policing...is deeply rooted in some department’s culture..."
Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, the Justice Department's top civil rights official, told CBS News, "From time to time in our police work, we find departments that are frankly, broken from top to bottom."
In an investigation targeting East Haven, Perez said, this isn't the only broken police department. "We have more investigations underway than ever before," he said. "The problems are far-reaching in East Haven. The problems are far-reaching in New Orleans. The problems are far-reaching in Puerto Rico."
When asked if this issue has broken out recently, if it is cops gone wild or if it's an issue that was ignored, Perez said, "I think there was an old paradigm of how to deal with police issues, and that is you can either reduce crime or you respect the constitution, but you can't do both!
In Maricopa County, Ariz., the flamboyant Sheriff Joseph Arpaio is accused of bias policing towards Latinos, an accusation he denies. "I'm not a social worker, I'm a cop," Arpaio told CBS News.
Most law enforcement officers do a great job! There are 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the country and when you see just 17 accused of being guilty, you realize it could be much worse. On the other hand, police departments/ police chiefs may look at this trend and say, 'I need to clean up inside our office.
It's a pretty daunting thing, to have the Justice Department come over and say, 'Here's a new way of doing things. It's the chief who gets involved in that process and says, 'let's figure out how to fix this together' who ends up getting a better contract with the Justice Department than one that (says), 'Whatever you want to do, we'll stick with it."
But what about the side of law enforcement that no one talks about? Profiling truck drivers! Truck driver’s rights are violated all the time and it is a civil rights issue because truck drivers are profiled as easy targets. Officers are known to make up many charges against drivers and carriers. Police departments, city, counties and some states hold their own courts where they enforce unknown laws with fines issued at a hearing without a judge present.
None of these charges are ever reported to the FMCSA. If the State Department wants to look at these type charges I can point them in 100 different directions and more in just one state.
There is no uproar about driver profiling other than by the drivers and if you are a driver, you know that all 7 million plus drivers can’t amount to more than a squeak. The press, the carriers and the government ignore them for the most part. Carriers ignore driver’s legal issues because they are afraid of the cities, counties and states.
Some drivers go homeless because of the actions of an officer. Driver’s self-esteem is destroyed by some police officers. There are police officers who on a daily bases hold drivers and keep them from completing their jobs. They do this just to make it more difficult for a driver they stopped because they want to hurt the driver and teach them some kind of lesson. I have never talked to a driver that understood why the officer acted that way.
The fact is that the largest majority of drivers today on the road are licensed professionals that deserve to be heard and appreciated. Some drive more hours than airline pilots fly. Airline pilots or train engineers have nowhere near the responsibility of dodging the objects that are thrown at a commercial driver on a daily bases. You can’t fill an airline pilot or train engineer seat using an untrained person off the street and you can’t fill an 80,000 lb. truck seat with an untrained driver either.
A truck driver is the least supported professional in America today, I believe. When was the last time you thanked a driver for driving all day or all night so you could have gas in your car or toilet paper in your bathroom or baby food for your child? If we will start treating drivers as professionals then maybe that is all the encouragement they need to conduct themselves as professionals! Right now drivers are nothing more than a target for law enforcement in America.
Drivers are stopped by officers just for driving a truck. They are held up for hours while loads are inspected or safety inspections are conducted at the driver’s expense instead of the expense of the shipper or the carrier. At the end of the day they are paid the least amount of money for the time they have spent working than any professional I know of. They have to put up with what they are paid like a third class citizen.
At the very least we could help them watch their back and stand up for them whenever they are taken advantage of. At the very least we could thank them for the job they have to do to make us safe and comfortable. At the very least we could show concern for them when they tell us they have been taken advantage of. At the very least we could acknowledge them when they are in our presence.
It is our duty as Americans to stand up for our fellow citizens when we see them being taken advantage of or financially ruined by anyone much less a police officer. Some officers do become desensitized to the human element of drivers and the public. That cannot be allowed!
We need to recognize this issue and begin acting on it. When law enforcement, teachers or public servants of any nature take their jobs for granted and the people they serve for granted they are doing a bad job. How about us using our voice to put a stop to this behavior before the shoe drops and we have to defend ourselves? Then the shoe will be on the other foot and Karma will exact her revenge on us. Remember the old saying, what goes around comes around.
I support good drivers, good officers and good public servants. But for years now carriers have been looking the other way, paying fines and sweeping the knowledge of wrong doing by bad officers, cities, counties and states under the rug. Carriers felt the pressure from law officers was to make a living off of the drivers. They knew if they complained about it law officers would come after them. It is no longer a good excuse for cities, counties and states to support themselves off of truck drivers and carriers.
CSA holds infractions against drivers and safety violations against carriers. It is the carrier, at the end of the day that the federal government goes after. Now, when drivers and carriers get harassed and look the other way the general public is stuck paying the cost in the form of higher delivery prices. Money out of everybody’s pocket! It is time to hold the bad people in our local and state offices accountable for the price of goods we pay for today. It is time to put those people out of business and take the 8,000 pound gorilla of the backend of the truck. I’m tired of paying for the extra weight.