As I’m sure you’re already aware, John Pike, the former University of California at Davis campus policeman, just received a $38,000 settlement for the trauma he suffered in the line of duty. Normally, I’m all for compensating police for trauma suffered in carrying out their difficult, dangerous, and thankless job.
Of course, in this particular case, the “line of duty” was callously pepper-spraying a bunch of sitting protestors. Don’t feel obligated to watch the video again. I’m sure you’ve seen it too many times already. What’s striking, to me, about it is the utterly casual way he goes about spraying these protestors, directly in the face, and in a much larger application than is recommended.
Pike was fired from his job, as you might imagine, as he had performed it about as badly as is possible. He didn’t kill anyone, and as far as I know, he didn’t take bribes, but the utter disregard he had for the students, spraying them like you’d spray insects, gets him a special place in the “Bad Cop Hall of Fame.”
As I said, the police have a difficult, dangerous, and thankless job. It’s a job I wouldn’t want to do and I’m not sure that I could. But, if they’re given the job of upholding the law, they need to actually obey the laws they’re enforcing. That’s the tradeoff. In exchange for the trust of enforcing the law, you are even more accountable than the average civilian. You break that trust, you pay dearly.
Awarding the poster child for what is wrong with law enforcement more money than his victims received is not paying dearly.
Pike was fired, and that’s a good start. He should not have received any sort of settlement for being a failure as a policeman and a human being. He should be in jail. He should be held up as an example of what happens when cops do a crap job of being cops. Even if he’s not in jail, he should be an object of ridicule. When someone is so bad at their job that a mere facepalm is not enough, that person should be called a “John Pike.”
Instead, we pay him? Yes, that’s the message we want to send: “Abuse the crap out of people and we’ll give you a friggin’ bonus.”
I swear its enough to make me want to bring back tar and feathers.