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what to do with angry cop

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by txsportsscribe, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    could use a little advice on a recent incident with a local cop. what would be the best course of action to take when a cop verbally assaults you, threatens you and then tries to intimidate you when you go to file a complaint?

    here's the gist:

    i complained in an email to several of his superiors (and city administration) about ongoing lack of cooperation from the public information officer for the department. i then get a call from the cop who's rude from the get-go (which i can handle). but he quickly loses his temper - and i mean out-of-control, violently angry – and starts calling me every name in the book and tells me to bring my mother-effing fat ass down to the station he'd do something out it. i hang up and go first to a city administrator, who tells me to go to the cop's supervisor.

    when i go to the police department, i specifically tell the lieutenant i do not want to see this cop and am assured that he won't be coming out. the next thing i know, here comes the angry cop to confront me. i tell him i have no intention of speaking with him and he tells me "well you got me, so deal with it."

    i start to leave after another confrontation with him right there in the lobby but the initial lieutenant comes back out and asks me to wait so the angry cop's captain can speak with me. the captain - who witnessed the meeting in the lobby (and did nothing to stop it) and also witnessed angry cop's telephone tirade acknowledges that the conduct was unprofessional, apologizes and gives me an internal complaint form to fill out and return. the captain also says that while he witnessed the initial phone rant, he didn't hear any threats. to which i replied that i believe that if i felt threatened by angry cop's actions, it's a threat and that daring me to come down to the stage and he'd do something about it is an obvious threat. and also that angry cop confronting me there was nothing more than intimidation by a public official.

    i now no longer feel comfortable going to city hall in my reporting duties and actually fell uneasy about even being out and about in my own city because a crazy cop with a gun has threatened me. i'm also concerned about harassment by other cops.

    if it were just a pissed off cop, i could deal with that because i'm a big boy and understand some people are just pricks. but this man lost control of his ability to act rationally and with that kind of flash anger and hostility, i honestly believe he could pose a threat to the public.
  2. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    What have your supervisors advised? IMO they need to know about this.
  3. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    very small shop. you're looking at the supervisor/reporter/photographer, etc.
  4. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    That's some serious stuff right there.

    If in deed your employer has no way to back you up -- I find this hard to believe; is there no owner? Does he not have an attorney? -- then I would reach out to someone or some entity outside of the police department. Either the city manager, or the county attorney/DA.

    Sounds like the department is rogue...which sounds like there are good stories to be had, because surely that cop acts that way to many other citizens.
  5. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    i am the boss. it's a website (basically an online newspaper) that has been received very favorably in the community and we already slobberknock the weekly dead tree publication and the big metro's section coverage of our market, both in terms of coverage and readership. left the print newspaper biz behind to start this website. it's a slippery slope trying to balance the politics of being publisher with the editorial side of things. did have a city councilman call me and offer his support.

    i just can't see how the police think angry cop's actions weren't criminal instead of just something for internal matters. if i had done to angry cop what he did to me, they would've had a cop at my house in 5 minutes and me in handcuffs.
  6. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    Well, your situation does put you in a precarious position.

    Maybe what I might do is let it go, so far as the cop's treatment of me. But what I would do is ask to see all the complaints from citizens filed against the department in the past few years; I imagine these are public records, even in Texas. Then, I would track down the complainers and write stories based on what happened to them. In other words, use what happened to you as the anonymous tip, so to speak, that the department is rogue. Then go about trying to prove that, like any good journalist would.
  7. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    precarious indeed
  8. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Document everything. Record all future interactions you have with this police officer, his superiors and his colleagues. Retain a lawyer. Put the city councilman on speed dial. FOIA anything you think might be interesting.

    Then hope for the best.
  9. Norrin Radd

    Norrin Radd New Member

  10. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    except this angry cop would weep in the face of buford
  11. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Watch you back buddy. You could be an accident at any given moment.
  12. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    There are very, very few things worth getting into an ongoing war with a small-town cop over. Apologize to him for whatever he thinks you did.
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