Saturday, July 25, 2009

Parting the Gates: The Last Word and What Crowley and Ron Artest Have in Common

Many critical of Sergeant Crowley argue that police officers are trained to de-escalate, and Crowley failed to do so. I'm one. In an ideal world, everybody speaks in a respectful, calm voice while maintaining decorum. But when voices are raised in a clash of citizen versus officer, the officer has to "take it." Is it fair that somebody who is protecting us is subjected to an accusatory tirade? Actually, yes, because that's the job.

Rewind to November 19, 2004. The Indiana Pacers are playing the Detroit Pistons. Ron Artest is feigning disinterest while refs talk over how to treat Ben Wallace for committing a flagrant foul. However, Artest is also acting like a smartass by reclining on the scorer's table. Artest is struck by a beverage cup, and he goes bananas by running into the crowd and attacking the guy he thinks threw the cup. Artest incites "malice at the Palace" (an episode David Stern calls the most "atrocious" in NBA history), and he kills any chance the Pacers have of a national championship. Stern suspends Artest for 73 games (or a year in NBA player terms).

My point is not to argue whether this suspension was warranted or to imply that if police officer who struck a civilian for throwing a cup at him wouldn't get worse (he probably would).

It is only to say that the NBA had an expectation of its players, which was, "We know fans can be a-holes, and you deal with it." Players' tales of fans uttering racial epithets are legion, but if a player reacts and breaks that imaginary player/fan line, he get suspended for leaving "the court." In other words, the NBA's expectation was that Artest would just suffer whatever indignity he felt from being hit with a cup.

That's the same with police officers. Sergeant Crowley's duty was to suck it up. You don't get to be vindictive and make a bogus arrest. If an officer cannot maintain his/her calm, (s)he can find another vocation....because this is what we ask of you.

Likewise, if you can't restrain yourself when people use harsh words or hit you with a cup, don't join the NBA. Or at least don't be on the Pacers during a title run.


No comments: