I’ve had lots of positive response to my column Sunday on “Warrior Cops.” One said “Super article. How do we reverse this?”
It won’t be easy. There are several steps that could be taken at the federal level, like dropping the programs that transfer military hardware to local police forces and repealing the asset forfeiture laws that reward local police by giving them the profits of busted drug dealers. Big changes will require Congress to act, courts to restore rights that have been compromised and changes in the political atmosphere.
But there’s another option: Act locally to change local police departments.
John Ellsworth, a former Ashland selectman, brings up the example of Andrew Stigiano, who was killed in July by an Ashland cop. Unlike Eurie Stamps, Stigliano was violent and threatening, but that doesn’t mean the cop had to shoot him, as Ellsworth explains:
Andrew Stigliano was a disturbed young man with serious emotional, possibly mental, and certainly drug-related issues. He died because of what our group has been calling “SWAT Mentality”; what Holmes has called “Warrior mentality.” … When Andrew was killed during a standoff, a standoff that was triggered by a warrant for what was at the root of things a domestic disturbance, there were many of us in Ashland who felt immediately that had there been different officers on the scene, had there been a different mentality operational within our force, had there been a less “aggressive do” mentality and a greater application of thought, the outcome would have been lot different.
In his letter, which will appear in tomorrow’s Daily News, Ellsworth reminds us that Ashland is in the process of choosing a new police chief:
The single most important question which our town faces at the moment is does Ashland reverse course and go back to police policies of community policing, the “Officer Friendly” of your headline; or, do we continue down the track of intimidation, of force, of self-assured police braggadocio.
What Ellsworth doesn’t mention is that the town’s police chief search has narrowed the field to two finalists. One is a lieutenant with the NYPD, which has a history of warrior-cop behavior. The other is Framingham Deputy Chief Craig Davis, who was the officer in charge of the SWAT team the night Eurie Stamps Sr. was killed.