Richardson: Media circus starts in ASU arrest case - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

Richardson: Media circus starts in ASU arrest case

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at bill.richardson@cox.net.

Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 5:30 am | Updated: 5:53 pm, Thu Jul 3, 2014.

If you’re a police officer in the United States, there’s one place you definitely don’t want to be, and that’s in the sights of media being talked about as that white cop who physically abused a black woman during an arrest.

That’s what has happened to Arizona State University Police Officer Stewart Ferrin, who arrested ASU professor Ersula Jawanna Ore on May 20 on suspicion of resisting arrest, obstructing a road, refusing to give her name to a police officer and aggravated assault. Ore has since been formally charged with three misdemeanors and a felony by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

When Ore was first arrested, the story wasn’t even a blip on the media radar screen, but how things have changed in the nearly 40 days since Ore allegedly attacked the officer.

An edited video of the arrest has gone viral and the officer has now been “profiled” as a rogue cop.

On June 29, at 12:49 p.m., The Huffington Post reported “ASU authorities have reviewed the circumstances surrounding the arrest and have found no evidence of inappropriate actions by the ASUPD officers involved. Should such evidence be discovered, an additional, thorough inquiry will be conducted and appropriate actions taken.” At 9:49 p.m., Huffington reported “Although the university says there is no evidence of inappropriate actions by the ASUPD officers involved, it plans to review the incident further.” ASU told Huffington “The ASU Police Department is enlisting an outside law-enforcement agency to conduct an independent review on whether excessive force was used and if there was any racial motivation by the officers involved. In addition, although no university police protocols were violated, university police are conducting a review of whether the officer involved could have avoided the confrontation that ensued.”

It would’ve been nice had the ASUPD handled the matter appropriately and completely from the beginning and not wait until the national media took charge of the process. An investigation into allegations of abuse by a police officer needs to be done right the first time. Considering the potential for the case involving Ore to become high profile, an outside investigation of the allegations of abuse should’ve been examined by the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Special Investigations Unit that routinely conducts internal investigations for police agencies statewide, and not the officer’s co-workers and supervisors.

Regardless of the outcome of ASU’s new investigation they plan to farm out, there will always be questions about bias, political correctness, cover-up and who knows what else.

Having been accused of police brutality as well as having investigated allegations of police abuse, I can tell you a police agency doesn’t do anyone any favors when they don’t do a proper and open investigation.

Because of the mishandling of the first internal examination into the arrest of Ore, Ferrin, and his mom and dad, who have now been identified, are now being dragged through the media-made mud.

While there are accusations about racial profiling being thrown around, ASUPD is not the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and shouldn’t be seen as the same kind of police agency with a disturbing record of civil rights abuses. ASUPD officers enjoy a well-earned level of respect.

The Phoenix New Times is reporting not only about Ferrin and referring to him as a “rookie cop,” they’re also giving a rundown on his mom and dad.

Ore appeared on CNN pleading her case. She refused to answer when asked if she kicked the officer on the advice of counsel. That’s good but telling advice, if you ask me.

The media circus is just beginning and a young police officer now has a target on his back. One he may not deserve.

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