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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wouldn't getting the finger goad you, too?

The mix of news on this morning’s front print page of The Saratogian made me sad: police officers supporting the Special Olympics were the happy and positive centerpiece to anchor the cover, but that story was dimmed a bit by one about an officer who was goaded into behaving poorly.

I am disgusted by the driver who intentionally gave the officer the finger and then videotaped their encounter, armed with the knowledge that his disrespect was not in and of itself grounds for arrest. Grounds for being a jerk, yeah. But not for being arrested, according to a court decision.

An investigation into the incident, including the officer’s use of pepper spray, will determine whether the officer over-reacted. Whether an officer is being taped and whether a person is being a jerk are, truth be told, beside the point. The police need to do the right thing. But officers have a difficult enough job without being set up and “tested.” To get respect, give respect.


Blogger Kurt Wanfried said...

The jails are full of people who got angry and got physical with people who showed them disrespect. While the officer's reaction is understandable, we have a right expect more from police .

May 21, 2015 at 11:20 AM 
Anonymous Bonnie W said...

So True, police officers work hard each and every day to help keep our communities safe. They are the first ones we call when in need or fear. Let this man give the finger to an ordinary citizen who beats him to a pulp and who will he call for assistance?

May 21, 2015 at 11:27 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I honestly believe a "sarcastic" wave could have also resulted in a similar reaction by this officer.
Luckily (if that is the best light to put on this) the test on this officers' demeanor and frankly his lack of maturity was revealed on a relatively non-violent, non-threatening event, rather than one that could have resulted in more serious implications. Hopefully lesson learned and no feelings of secret revenge (maybe counseling could benefit this young man?) and everyone move on; after settling the civil repercussions of his reaction of course. Maybe if we fined the "aggressor" like the NFL??? Two of life's greatest qualities are patience... and wisdom.

May 21, 2015 at 12:14 PM 
Anonymous Frank S. said...

Don't be silly.

In 2013 the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that giving the middle finger is an “ancient gesture of insult” and does not warrant arrest.

Either we’re a nation of laws or we’re not. A police officer does not overrule the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

May 21, 2015 at 1:08 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully people will back this officer whose job is in jeopardy. No one knows what this officer dealt with this day and for this man to give him his finger and goad him is in my opinion disgusting. Our cops are in danger..we must care.

May 21, 2015 at 9:46 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is disgusting that this policeman's job is in jeopardy.
No one knows what this police officer dealt with this day..the dept. should have his back as the man initiated this situation.

May 21, 2015 at 9:52 PM 
Blogger Jim Gupta-Carlson said...

I'm disgusted by your city's cops and their abuse of power. Are you?

May 21, 2015 at 9:55 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This policeman's job is in jeopardy..this is disgusting.
no one knows what this officer faced that day...for someone who provokes a cop is looking for trouble.
We should support this cop....if the man was robbed, beaten...guess who he would call.....

May 21, 2015 at 10:04 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree Barbara with your commentary but this has happened in the past and still happens on an ongoing basis. Most of our police are good officers but there is a smalal percentage that always feel the need to take it to a higher level. They feel inserting active violence restores respect. I have personally seen this and we all know about the Three Amigos of which one was Officer of the Year slamming an individual's head into a door during an argument. The police should be above these childess actions. One has already learned the lesson the hard way and I'm sure this one will also. At a time when the police are understaffed and summer is coming we may be in for a long summer.

May 22, 2015 at 3:00 PM 
Blogger robert McCabe said...

God Bless The Saratoga Police Department and thanks.

May 25, 2015 at 8:00 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am given the finger almost daily when I drive my car around and I don't get out of my car and pepper spray someone for it.

Most people would shrug it off, keep driving and vent about it when they got home.

This officer obviously thinks the badge he wears provides him with the power to confront anyone anytime and place. The jerk giving the finger should stop causing trouble and utilize him time in a more productive manner. Maybe spend time with his family or get a real job.

The jerk should have to wear mittens for a month and the officer reduced to foot patrol.

May 29, 2015 at 3:53 PM 
Blogger Unknown said...

Barbara, Please do a little research before you write an article. You obviously don't know who this man is, he is a writer for a real website(people actually read what he writes).

This guy writes for CopBlock (dot) org, and he purposely goes to these places and does this whenever he receives a report that police in a certain area don't respect their citizens or follow the constitution. If the police act poorly by telling him he can't photograph something or walk in a certain area he then educates them that they can't walk around like gods who don't have to follow the constitution because they wear a badge.

You should be putting your police under the microscope, maybe when your son/daughter is illegally searched or pepper sprayed by the police in your city you'll change your opinion. Until then, keep acting like your little community is perfect and that this cop's response of force is appropriate.

Would it be alright if your mailman just threw your mail on the ground because you gave him the finger? NO you'd have a problem with that, This is the same thing but worse.

May 31, 2015 at 2:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, it would not goad me. Very little goads me. Why? Because I am a sensible well-behaved adult. I am not an overly-sensitive jerk with a chip on my shoulder, a badge and a need to prove my power over others.

June 1, 2015 at 9:19 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In regards to this idiot giving the officer the finger just to "egg" him into pulling him over just to video tape him shows exactly what an ignorant person he is. Do I agree with the officer pepper spraying him? IDK cause we don't know the whole story exactly. Yeah he refused to give the office any information and who's to say this guy wasn't intoxicated, mentally unstable or on drugs? The officer wanted his information which is exactly what most police officers do when they pull you over. Does it make the officer wrong to assume this guy was being completely oblivious to giving this information immediately so maybe the officer wouldn't have had to get upset over this whole ordeal? The press doesn't help with matters going on in the States right now either; why not report on the GOOD that our officers do for their communities?? They only report on the "bad decision making" that some of our officers make and then without knowing the whole story everyone is ready to point fingers at them. They are out there doing their jobs; risking their lives to protect the public? So why is it right that this idiot can go around and harass our police officers and not get something for this? I think the Saratoga Springs Police Department are very good at what they do and they aren't out there subjecting the public to harassment. They are out there doing their jobs and sometimes includes saving lives! So lets start giving them some recognition for the positive they do!!! I think the "idiot" deserved to be arrested for his complete disrespect for a public figure!

June 1, 2015 at 1:11 PM 

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