Daily Local News
WEST CHESTER, Pa. — The video depicting the behavior of a Honey Brook man in the back seat of a state police patrol car is not something you are likely to see on one of the “real life” cop shows on television, but that is not because that behavior is something that never occurs in the course of a police officer’s work.
Rather, the video could not be broadcast because of the vulgarity and offensive hatred that spewed from the man’s mouth, directed at the officers who had come to take him from a home where he was drunkenly violating the law.
But make no mistake: The way the man behaved is all too common in an age when the average citizen has started to show an increasing lack of respect for law enforcement officers. And also make no mistake: The reaction by the two state trooper involved, Joseph Ross and Thomas Keegan, is more the exception than the rule in how today’s police deal with a citizenry that has decided to display that lack of respect, profanely at times.
The man, a 46-year-old petty criminal with a history of mental illness, sat in the back of Ross’ cruiser, his hands cuffed behind him, and used all his force to shout the crudest of insults at Ross and his younger partner that evening, Keegan. Despite being cursed at, crudely insulted, threatened with physical abuse and taunted, Ross and Keegan remained “calm and professional” while driving the man to the Coatesville lockup after he was found in violation of a protection from abuse order in Honey Brook, the troopers’ supervisor said in court last week.
“They didn’t even yell at the defendant,” said Assistant District Attorney Michelle Frei in remarking on the stellar way Ross and Keegan handled the situation. The man’s attorney, West Chester defense lawyer Francis Miller, agreed that the troopers displayed “incredible professionalism and calm” in the face of an attack that would have sent most of us over the edge.
It was not until the man kicked Ross in the back, forcing him to briefly lose control of the patrol car, that the pair took action against him, and then only to more securely restrain him as they took him to be processed. At one point in the video, Ross can even be heard asking the man, now face down with his legs tied to his wrists, if he wants medical assistance.
As much as we praise the actions of the two officers that night, we acknowledge that this is the way it should be. Police should always act as professionals, and should not resort to the low behavior that is sometimes directed at them.
We believe that the supervisor who attended the man’s sentencing in front of Judge Howard F. Riley Jr. expressed that when he said that police in the modern age know they are dealing with people who have mental illnesses, and drug or alcohol problems, and understand that they can’t take advantage of that when bringing people into custody. Making sure that the public’s safety is always foremost in an officer’s mind is key, even when the member of the public is a criminal.
We commend Ross and Keegan and all other law enforcement personnel who take it upon themselves to conform to that high standard.
We are a better community for it.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Local News