Sun, Jul 24 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Carlos R. Davalos
What we know: Chula Vistans, by and large, support their cops. The evidence was made clear when during budget talks in recent years, plenty of citizens argued the department needed to be spared the pain of drastic personnel cuts.
We also know cops do a job and take risks that most of us wouldn't. We pay them to clean our messes, wrangle bad guys and make us feel safe at night.
Finally, we know the city and police department find themselves on the defensive end of a lawsuit alleging police brutality.
This time the details involve a doctor, Eric Harris, and officer Fred Krafft. According to the Union-Tribune the two met after a Jimmy Buffett concert at Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre, where Krafft repeatedly introduced Harris' head to the side of his vehicle after the doctor muttered something the officer didn't like.
Somehow this meeting does not strike me as in keeping with the essence of Buffett’s “Margaritaville.” What we remember: It was just a few weeks ago when a Chula Vista cop was accused of cheating at an east county casino.
He was arrested, charged and his case is making its way through the judicial system. He also resigned from the department in the middle of their internal investigation. Read into that what you will.
We also recall that it was in 2008 that the Chula Vista Police Department was sued because an officer had beat down an Otay Ranch High School student.
The city eventually paid the victim $400,000 to make that case go away before trial.
And we haven't forgotten that in 2009 another man accused a Chula Vista cop of excessive force when the officer allegedly choked out the victim in front of his children for not obeying the officer's orders. The judge in that case threw out the case after he determined there wasn't enough evidence to merit a trial against the citizen.
What we don't know: If Chula Vista Officer Krafft has a history of abusive behavior as the lawsuit against him alleges.
We also don't know how many other officers have similar complaints against them and how many similar incidents go unreported.
What we keep in mind: That in the police department, as in any other organization, probably 95 percent of the men and women who work there are honorable people. Professionals we are proud to trust. But it's that remaining five percent that not only give an organization a bad name, they make good people look bad and diminish our trust.
What we hope for: This recent case goes to trial. Take it to a courtroom where the evidence is presented for a jury and the public to weigh. If the officer's-- and the department's-- reputation is being unfairly maligned, then exonerate the cop and the department publicly.
But if the cop is a hot headed thug with a history of throwing his weight around, that needs to be public. too. We have a right to know who is worthy of our trust and support.
Our last hope is the city doesn’t settle. If the cop on their payroll did nothing wrong, fight the lawsuit. We hope City Attorney Glen Googins doesn't take the easy way out and settle. That would leave too many lingering questions. Too much room for doubt. Let the truth fall where it may.
© 2009 The Star-News