In 1955, the Los Angeles Police Department conducted a contest to come up with a new motto for its police academy. Officer Joseph S. Dorobek submitted “To Protect and to Serve,” which not only became the academy’s official motto, but it became the unofficial motto for departments all across the country.
In an era when all bad police misdeeds end up on YouTube or elsewhere on the Internet, the “To protect and to serve” motto has never been so tested. Between pepper-sprayings and unnecessary brutality and arrests over videotaping and routine traffic stops gone wrong, it’s unclear just who many police departments are protecting and serving. In clip after clip, it doesn’t appear to be the citizenry.
An 11-month-old incident from a traffic stop in Utica, New York appeared as if it were the latest incident of authority going too far. Two officers can be seen on the silent dash cam video frisking a black couple in an SUV at the corner Clinton Place and Oneida Streets.
At one point (about :59 in), an officer reaches into his back pocket, pulls out a bag filled with an unknown substance and places it into the vehicle. He then emerges from the car with a baggie.
The story blew up the social bookmarking site Reddit. We reported on the 1:40 clip and the preliminary story. But a look at the full dash cam video tells a different story.
“The 1:40 portion of the video being shown on social media sites on the internet shows a Utica Police officer taking a baggie from his pocket and putting it, apparently, on the seat of the vehicle he’d just pulled over,” WKTV reported. “Earlier in the video, in a portion not shown on all the social media sites, the officer’s empty hand can be seen going in the driver’s jacket pocket, pulling out a baggie. Utica Police Chief Mark Williams says the matter was thoroughly investigated.”
“He’s going into the car with it and that’s what he’s doing, it’s cold out and he’s basically separating the drugs from both defendants,” Chief Williams told WKTV.
The Utica Phoenix, which came into possession of the abridged clip last week, first reported the story:
Initially her hands are free, but after the search, whereupon the officer seems to find something folded in what appears to be a piece of paper, she too is hand cuffed behind her back. She then remains standing behind the vehicle.
The SUV continues being searched by the one or other of the officers and at one point one of the officers, gestures for the woman to be taken from view of the other officer. She is lead away from view.
This same officer who motioned to have the woman removed from view, returns to the passenger side of the car and is clearly seen reaching for and then removing a pouched plastic bag from his back pocket, its contents are not clear. It seems he then drops the bag, bends down to retrieve it, then returns with it to the interior of the car.
Phoenix publisher Cassandra Harris-Lockwood wrote that Venice Ervin, chairman of the Legal Redress Committee of the NAACP, discussed the video with Utica Police Chief Mark W. Williams.
The officers have been identified in the video as James Holt and Paul Paladino. Neither officer has released a statement at this time.
The Utica Police Department is also facing scrutiny from the public at large for dragging its feet on filing charges against 31-year-old New York State Trooper Jessie Miller, who kicked down some random couple’s front door and started a fight with the male resident of the home on Saturday night. As of this moment, there have still not been any charges filed against the state trooper.