Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cop Gone Wild Follow-Up

Brett Darrow was back on my KMOX show this afternoon to describe his meeting with St. George Police Chief Scott Uhrig and the formal complaint he filed about his encounter last Friday with Sgt. James Kuehnlein.

It turns out that while Darrow has video of the incident, the video shot from the officer's patrol car seems to be lost -- what a surprise! Chief Uhrig admits that his officers have access to the tapes in their vehicles, and could erase or edit out any footage which shows them in a negative light. That's a scenario that's ripe for abuse, particularly in situations like this one.

Because so many have questioned Darrow's motives in having his own camcorder (plus radar detector and police scanner) in his car, I asked him to explain again why he installed the equipment and about his previous run-ins with police. I also asked him if he's contacted a lawyer and plans any legal action against Sgt. Kuehnlein or the city of St. George, and whether he thinks the officer -- who is currently on unpaid leave -- should be fired.

I've been laughing at the commenters who refer to Darrow as a "young punk." His age and his non-aggressive actions should not be a factor in how he was treated. The bottom line here is that Darrow did nothing illegal, which Chief Uhrig acknowledges. Even if Darrow was trying to "catch a cop," that doesn't justify Sgt. Kuehnlein's reaction. If it's okay for police departments and "Dateline NBC" to "Catch A Predator," what's wrong with what Darrow did? If he had caught a sex offender instead of an abusive cop, he'd be universally hailed as a hero.

We have all been in situations where someone abused their power. It may have been a police officer, it may have been a teacher, it may have been a boss, it may have been a politician (!). That doesn't mean that everyone in those positions is bad, but every profession has a few megalomaniacs who don't know when they're stepping over the line. When that happens, they need to be dragged back to the right side, and sometimes it takes a whistle blower like Darrow to bring it out into the open.

Listen.