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Who watches out for the watchers?

While I was finishing up my earlier story on the murdered police officer in Providence, Rhode Island, I discovered this story with some eerie similiarities out of Medford, Massachusetts.

Recently, a group of three police officers drove off a group of unruly teenagers from a carnival. Later, they received reports that the same group was harassing other people nearby, and went to investigate. The confrontation turned into an all-out brawl that sent five teenagers to jail and three officers to the hospital.

The police say that the teenagers rushed them, got their batons and flashlights, and were struggling for the officers' guns. They say they were on the verge of drawing their guns themselves and shooting their attackers when they finally managed to overpower them (despite being outnumbered by at least 5 to 3).

The boys say that the police attacked them, and they were only defending themselves. They are being supported by their parents.

The father of Calvin Belfon Jr., 17, is sticking up for his son. Calvin Belfon, Sr., says his son has never been in any trouble, and that the Medford officers attacked him and his friends.

Now, I expect this from most parents. They're going to stand by their kids, right or wrong. But Belfon is a Boston police officer, and is choosing to side with his son against his brother officers.

I believe the cops in this case. They were outnumbered; the smart thing would have been to try to intimidate the teenagers into moving on, not actually initiating the fight. And if they had attacked first, I'd like to think they were trained and equipped well enough to put at least one of the punks in the hospital, not ending up there themselves.

(One personal note: yes, I know there is such a thing as "police brutality." I've even seen it myself, up close and personal. I even filed an official report as a witness, and the officer was disciplined as a result of my report. Somewhere around here I have a letter from the Chief of Police thanking me for reporting the incident. But I think that the outcries of "police brutality" are vastly overstated, and this case is one of them.)


Comments (10)

It has been my experience t... (Below threshold)

It has been my experience that no victim of police brutality has ever "done nothing" to instigate it (see how I resisted saying "deserve" it?). Sure, sometimes it wasn't enough to warrant the police "response," but at the outset, something idiotic was said or done.

Having worked in law enforc... (Below threshold)
jumbo:

Having worked in law enforcement and been a part of or familiar with scores of local, state and federal enforcement/investigative agencies, I'm here to tell you the all-encompassing "blue-code" (your'e a cop, I'm a cop, and we protect each other whatever happens) is a thing of the past, if it ever really existed. Instead, much like the general populace, officers oftentimes identify more with their own racial or cultural groups. Agencies all too often break down into subsets, I'm afraid to say.

As for the cop who took up for his kid against the other cops, that's not surprising. There's a general trend toward definace of authority anyway. Look how often parents want to lynch the teachers when kids face the consequences of their misbehavior in schools. So don't read anyhting into that.

And to continue with sweeping generalizations, FWIW, in my experience, northeastern urban cops often tend much more to rogue behavior or hotheadedness, or respond more often to "challenges" to their "manhood", as they view it. Perhaps such behavior has been more institutionalized or is more accepted in the NE.

Let the zings begin....

"The father of Calvin Belfo... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"The father of Calvin Belfon Jr., 17, is sticking up for his son...Now, I expect this from most parents. They're going to stand by their kids, right or wrong."

'Most' parents? Even if their kids are wrong? God, I hope not. That is precisely how to breed little monsters who think they have no personal responsibility.
If my kids ever did something like this, I would still love them, but I would insist that they be punished and not get off scot-free.

Hey, it's MEDFORD - whadda ... (Below threshold)

Hey, it's MEDFORD - whadda ya expect??

Cindy

'Most' parents? Even if ... (Below threshold)

'Most' parents? Even if their kids are wrong? God, I hope not.

Nobody ever said human nature was admirable. ;-)

The "defending themselves" ... (Below threshold)
epador:

The "defending themselves" premise stinks to high heaven. A kid of a cop, of all people, ought to know better than to resist arrest, whether right or wrong. Or hang around nearby after the local cops have chased you off once. Since they were already behaving badly, its hard to imagine the little angels didn't deserve a little 2x4 action (see kid in handcuffs discussion above).

Cops going to the hospital ... (Below threshold)
Rhale:

Cops going to the hospital is a red flag.

Procedurally it should have been handled by the
Tactical Squad (Helmeted 6.5ft Storm Troopers with
Shields Batons and Tear Gas) after the first incident
unless someone was in imminent danger.

Unprofessional behavior and lack of training will
get someone hurt.

P.S. If it were gangs with guns (Ca.) they would needed to hand it over to swat teams. Fairs have
been shut down because even metal detectors may
not keep out the guns. They are Lucky.

i know calvin belfon person... (Below threshold)
mick:

i know calvin belfon personally he would not do something like this. his own father is a cop. he knows right from wrong. he wouldn't do it.

I know all the boys and i k... (Below threshold)
cathy:

I know all the boys and i know that they wouldn't do something like that. They were the ones that was attacked first they were just protecting themselves. Calvin and all of them are such good kids and students and would never attack anyone without being attacked first.

Yo i know calvin and he wou... (Below threshold)
Jeffrey J.:

Yo i know calvin and he wouldnt do this. He has a future in football and he knows that something like this can mess up his future. But if you have to defend yourself then u must defend yourself know matter what.

Jeffrey

Somerville High School # 1




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