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Officers shouldn't be allowed to 'rent out' their police powers

2:15 PM EDT, October 2, 2013

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What an amazingly fresh perspective was offered by commentator Richard Vatz on the Towson Town Hall meeting and the arrest of a disruptive parent, Robert Small ("Giving lip service to debate," Sept. 27).

Mr. Vatz stated very clearly that people give rhetorical cover to democracy, but that once they have gained the reins of power they are not much interested in promoting free speech or dissent. This is true of everyone from the president on down.

I would add another perspective to this fiasco: When is a cop a cop if he or she is moonlighting as something else and is not recognized as a police officer? That is really what happened to Mr. Small. He can make the case that some person with a security shirt came up to him and physically assaulted him.

To make it worse, the so-called police cuffed Mr. Small and charged him with assault of an officer. How could the prosecutor not see that it was the policeman who assaulted Mr Small?

I spent many years in federal law enforcement, and we were never allowed to moonlight in plainclothes using our police powers. We were not for rent.

How can a sworn policeman rent out his police power that is only responsible to the city or state? If the policeman as we saw here commits a misconduct while renting out his police power, has he not made the city and state liable for his actions? Is that not reason enough to tell police who moonlight that they are no longer police for the time they are in the employ of another party?

Mr. Small should consult a lawyer, as the prosecutor should have profusely apologized for the actions of his officers for the personal damage to Mr. Small.

Joseph Schvimmer, Pikesville