Evil forces are conspiring against the fine police officers of Fayetteville, North Carolina. In that community, a three-time winner of the All-America City Award (and what greater endorsement is there?), "police officers are under attack by drug dealers, lawyers representing drug dealers and by the City of Fayetteville." Well, at least that's according to John C. Midgette, Executive Director of the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, and a man who brings a strong dose of crazy to his organization's campaign against the establishment of a citizen review board — and of any criticism at all of the thin blue line.
The above quote is from a letter (PDF) Midgette sent to the the chairman of the state senate's State & Local Government Committee, opposing SB 939, a bill that would establish a police oversight committee. In that letter, he also charged that "a handful of anti-police individuals in Fayetteville are attempting to create a Board with an effective mission of interfering with and obstructing traditional police operations."
Also part of that obstruction, apparently, was the city council's moratorium on the cops' charming practice of "asking" (no pressure there) primarily African-American drivers for permission to search their vehicles without cause. The PBA sued to overturn the moratorium and actually won an injunction.
Midgette took his campaign against the forces of darkness to a press conference, at which he called for official action against critics of the police department. Reports the Fayetteville Observer:
The head of the N.C. Police Benevolent Association said Thursday he will ask for a federal investigation into what he described as a conspiracy to undermine the Fayetteville Police Department.
Executive Director John Midgette levied harsh criticism against a small group of people who continue to raise racial allegations against police officers.
Midgette said false accusations - including a recent complaint that was proven to be unfounded that an officer called a driver a racial slur - have pushed officer morale to an all-time low and have made it difficult for police to stop heavily armed "thugs" and other criminals "preying on Fayetteville, many of those thugs with high-powered weapons."
He described the city as awash in crime, calling it a "cesspool of corruption and anti-police hatred."
That was about enough to get the Fayetteville Observer over the press's usual infatuation with anybody in a uniform. The paper editorialized:
John Midgette, head of the N.C. Police Benevolent Association, has treated us to a doozy of a warm-up act. Let's watch and see what else he's got.
Midgette, presumably speaking for the organization and its membership, last week delivered himself of an oration against unnamed conspirators bent on undermining the Fayetteville Police Department. ...
For now, we're left to speculate - based on his extreme unhappiness with the City Council's decision to heed the advice of its consultant - that this all harks back to the long-running controversy over "consent" traffic stops and the great racial disparities found in police stop data. Midgette seems to be implying that it was somehow wrong of public officials and city residents in general to concern themselves with those disparities.
Some of us think leaning on people to agree to allow the forces of law and order manhandle their belongings is wrong even without a racial disparity, but Midgette clearly lost the local press on that one. And he's probably still a few years early on calling for federal investigations of people who merely voice their dissatisfaction with law enforcement.
I should point out that this kind of crazy may be contagious. Ed Krayewski found a similar case in Philadelphia.