Pam's Points: Police reviews, chicken news and firing range blues

Pam's Points: Police reviews, chicken news and firing range blues

June 28th, 2013 in Opinion Times

Police add insult to injury

The testimony from this week's hearing in a police firing case is mind-numbing.

The two Chattanooga police officers who are seeking to be reinstated struck one man at least 44 times with metal police batons, choked him, hit him with a stun gun and broke both of his legs on June 14, 2012.

The victim, Adam Tatum, with cocaine in his system, seemed to have incredible strength and endurance during the attack, according to testimony.

No, he didn't. During most of the seemingly never-ending police assault, Salvation Army Halfway House security video shows Tatum on the floor in a fetal position begging officers to stop hitting him.

Chief Bobby Dodd rightly fired Sean Emmer and Adam Cooley. But in testimony, retired Internal Affairs Capt. Susan Blaine said she did not anticipate the officers losing their jobs even though she told the police chief she believed they had used excessive force.

"I don't think their intent was to violate the policy or injure Tatum," she said.

What? If they didn't intend to injure Tatum, why didn't they just handcuff him?

There's a horrifyingly simple answer: They wouldn't stop beating him long enough to cuff him -- even when Tatum clearly had no more fight left in him.

If striking a man 44 times with metal police batons, choking him, and hitting him with a stun gun for more than 10 minutes while he is in a fetal position isn't against city and police policy, then it should be.

Dodd defended his decision to fire the officers: "This is one of the most egregious [cases] I've ever seen," he said.

Yes it is. And these officers should not get their jobs back.

Chattanooga must have faith in its police department. But there can't be that faith with behavior like what these officers displayed.

Dodd's decision should stand. The only thing wrong with it was that the chief took no disciplinary action against the other dozen or so officers who arrived on the scene but didn't intervene to stop the beating.

Bring on the chickens

How many city officials does it take to approve a few chicken coops in the city?

Apparently, too many, as the city has been clucking around for about eight weeks over the proposal to allow residents in single-family homes to have one chicken coop and up to eight chickens.

But, of course, this is the city that for years found ways to cite residents for letting grass grow too long in a natural-landscape garden.

Chattanooga is one of hundreds of cities in the country that has embraced farm-to-table restaurants and farmers markets, but now the city seems slow to really understand what urban farming means.

Come on, City Council: If the chickens' clucking drowns out neighborhood dog barks, and the coops smell worse than the city's combined sewer overflow facilities, then residents can call 311.

Kudos to Tim Boyd

Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd seems to be getting a lot of grief about addressing the Chattanooga City Council this week over concerns of possible cost overruns for the city/county police firing range.

Boyd wanted the council to know that just because the city and county have agreed to half the cost, that doesn't mean an unlimited "half" if tallies exceed the projected $3 million.

Chattanooga Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem on Tuesday told Boyd he should have just made a phone call, and the next day, Hakeem suggested Boyd's action was prompted by politics or "a lack of medication." Commission Chairman Larry Henry apologized for Boyd's action.

Boyd says no apology is needed. And he's right. As he told the council: "I'm a tax-paying citizen. I represent 20,000 citizens of Chattanooga and 40,000 citizens of Hamilton County."

You go, Tim. And please don't follow suggestions to make phone calls next time to work things out.

Heaven forbid that our elected representatives talk to each other in a public forum where citizens can actually hear the dialogue.