In every scenario that a law enforcement officer encounters, they have a legal and civic responsibility to deal that individual as a law breaker or a law abider.
A few weeks ago, the New University printed an article which reported that Professor Dorothy Solinger was stopped for running a red light while on her bicycle.
Later, as she attempted to leave before the officers were done talking to her, she was handcuffed immediately. The officers were dismissed without fault after she filed a complaint the the police department.
In this case, unfortunately, Professor Solinger was breaking the law.
To consider, in such a case, elements such as Professor Solinger’s age, sex, tenure at the University or busy schedule would be inappropriate regardless of the severity of the offense.
In this incident, an individual charged with knowingly breaking the law was detained and dealt with as she was attempting to leave custody without proper permission from the officer.
In a situation such as this, it is an officer’s responsibility, due to the quandary of the situation, to apply applicable force.
Professor Solinger’s complaint is largely based on the fact that she, as an elderly woman with no prior record, presents little danger to her environment and therefore should be granted special treament.
This complaint, though, fails to offer any legal foundation.
If, in her stead, another individual was detained for the same crime, only they happened to be a young student, the police would have and should have resorted to the exact same course of action.
The role that campus law enforcement officers fill is a difficult one fraught with difficult decisions.
On any given day, they deal with law-abiding students, professors, visitors and passers-by.
The department can only attempt to be even-handed with all of the individuals whom they encounter and they pride themselves on doing so.
As a student, I furthermore appreciate their efforts to engage every person they come across with the same courtesy.
In order to deliver a safe campus to those of us who ask it of them, they are obligated to deal with every individual whom they encounter equally and without prejudice. At no point was Professor Solinger treated any differently than the hypothetical student would have been.
To criminologists, this is known as blind justice and it is exactly what we ask for from our campus police, whether the crime is jaywalking or assault.
To indiscriminately weigh situations based on the criteria of gender, age, ethnicity, etc. would not only be arbitrary and unfair, it would be profiling and illegal.
In Erica Shen’s article, Professor Solinger is quoted as describing the behavior of the officers as ‘unprofessional’ in a situation where the officers acted in a precisely professional fashion, taking action as the law would advise with a law-breaking individual.
Furthermore, for Professor Solinger to deal out such judgment is, in my opinion, unprofessional. What authority or license does she have to make such an accusation?
Lastly, I would like to point out that the only potential ‘mistreatment’ I could interpret had to do with the inconvenience that Professor Solinger experienced.
At no point were the officers violent or abusive; they simply took action with Professor Solinger as they would have with any other law-breaking individual.
I’m sure that the officers are sorry for the fact that Professor Solinger arrived to her destination thirty minutes later than she would have had she not broken the law.
I would offer the following simple advice to Professor Solinger should she wish to avoid such a future inconvenience: Don’t break the law.
If you break the law, you have to face the consequences. In this case, it was a fine. That is simply how democracies have carried out justice since before Plato’s ‘Republic’; that’s the way it should be today.
I also would like to give Professor Solinger something to remember.
The next time, your life or property is violated in any way on the UCI campus, who is going to come to your aid? The police. Next time, if you or anyone you know is in danger, who is going to be there to help? The police.
And next time you need help for any reason, who is going to respond quickly without prejudice? The police. Ms. Shen’s article made our honorable campus officers the subject of disdain and parody. It is saddening that in a case such as this, where a professor was treated exactly as a student would have been treated, the officers were criticized rather than commended. Maybe