I had a double major for my undergraduate degree. The first is simple Political Science, picked because I knew that I was going to go for a graduate degree, either in Public Administration or Law, and PoliSci was simply one of the common degrees to prepare for either. My second major was Sociology, picked because I thought it would fit well with my job as a police officer.* So everytime I look at the PoliceOne, I look at how it has become a textbook example of groupthink and the hive mind, how it is normally an echo chamber for the police reactionary crowd. But I’m sometimes surprised, as I was by the Brian Encinia narrative at PoliceOne.
Don’t get me wrong—most of the guys responded per stereotype, screaming bloody murder about his termination and about the perjury charges being filed. At the time I believed that the perjury charge was a stretch, but that it was being used to force Encinia out of police work, because no District Attorney is going to sponsor Encinia as witness if he’s even been charged with perjury, much less if he was convicted.†
So the Special Prosecutor offered Encinia a deal. Surrender your peace officer license in lieu of prosecution, and he would drop the charges. So Encinia took it. At that point, most of the PoliceOne idiots started screaming that Encinia was vindicated and that he should sue for malicious prosecution. A noticeable exception to those screaming were PoliceOne members who are apparently Texas DPS troopers. They, for the most part, condemned what Encinia did. Comments like this came from the DPS members:
He had the full backing of his Admin, up until the point he violated numerous Departmental policies!
He definitely made us look bad and he was rude and unprofessional. I was a red patch‡ FTO from 2001 to 2006 and trained around 7 or 8 rookies and I always hammered into them that we are the good guys out here and we have developed a reputation in our communities of being fair and polite even when writing tickets or taking people to jail. They don’t need a lecture and don’t you dare ruin this reputation we’ve developed by treating our citizens like sh&*.
Face it, he screwed up and allowed her to get under her skin.
Glad charges were dismissed, however, this is NOT how we conduct our business. This Troopers actions on this stop is a disgrace to our Dept. and every other Trooper in TX who handles their business in a professional way.
On the other side are the idiots, who are trying to tell the troopers that they are wrong about their own agency and their own standards of professionalism. You see, other officers believe that it OK to issue a ticket or to take someone to jail because the subject pissed the trooper off, and the DPS troopers are saying that is not the case. They say that you decide what you are going to do before you make contact, based on the violation itself, and not what type of attitude that the driver shows.
The troopers are right. They don’t agree with these comments:
So you’ve never changed your mind in the middle of a traffic stop about writing a warning and decided to issue the citation or make the arrest instead? I know that I sure have. I respect you and all, but you and some of the others are just being ridiculous with all this name calling of Encinia here.
Look, I get that you guys have that violator contact criteria or whatever and that your agency took a bunch of political heat over this, but I think you’re being way too rough on the guy. Because of Bland’s poor attitude and non-compliance, Encinia changed his mind about issuing the warning and then decided to make the arrest. It happens all the time and it’s perfectly legit. No sense kicking the man while he’s down.
I agree a suspension would have served best in this case. But your colonel bowed to politcal [sic] pressure, which should worry everyone in your department. As to Mguest554. Get a clue this trooper did nothing criminally wrong here. This was a political prosecution and nothing more.
The fact that the troopers are willing to stand up and tell the other officers on PoliceOne that Encinia screwed up is a good sign. It means that there are still agencies out there who have officers that will look at the objective facts and take a position based on integrity, not based on a blue wall.
*It is (or was) almost universally accepted that cops should not get a decree in Criminal Justice. One mistake on the street and the degree is useless, plus most police departments just care that you have a degree and could care less about what it is in.
†I don’t think that Encinia was ever going to be convicted.
‡DPS used to use different colored patches to designate the troopers assignment. Red was Texas Highway Patrol (THP) and the preferred assignment. Blue was Driver’s License and grey was License and Weights.