The classic example may be Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Sharon Keller refusing a last-minute appeal by a condemned appellant with the spurious bureaucratic excuse, "We close at 5." (Even Keller's fellow CCA members criticized her unilateral action in the press).
The national media has latched onto another Texas case where the casual utterances of a law enforcement officer revealed a remarkable lack of empathy for those he's policing. After pulling over a driver speeding to the emergency vet with his dying dog, a San Marcos officer detained the vehicle for 15 minutes on the side of the road, allowing the animal to expire.
The money quote from the officer: "It's a dog, it's OK. You can get another one. Relax." Replied the driver, "It's not just a dog; it's my family." Reported ABC News:
Though Stephens' supervisors found him not guilty of misconduct, they did agree he handled the situation poorly.While I don't think the officer should be terminated over the incident - after all, the driver was allegedly going 100 mph when pulled over - neither do I think he demonstrated much empathy or ability to exercise discretion in an emergency situation.
"His world was collapsing. And what the officer says to him, basically, is, 'I don't care,'" said San Marcos police department chief Howard Williams.
The dog lover in me would like to see the officer submitted to this authority for retribution, but realistically a better outcome would be retraining or even re-assignment to animal control for a few months. By correctly identifying the officer's error - i.e, reacting to the driver's personal crisis with the message, "I don't care" - then in the same breath declaring the officer did not commit "misconduct," the Chief's statements imply that his department tolerates such attitudes or at least refuses to formally discourage them, which is an unfortunate message to deliver to the public via the national press.
BLOGVERSATION: For a sense of the public reaction, see related posts and comments from Urban Grounds, PetitUSA Blog, the Raw Story, the Dallas News MetroBlog, and Ravings of a Semi-Insane Madwoman. Also, when I last checked there were 1,207 comments reacting to the story on ABC News' website.
UPDATE: TalkLeft adds this pearl of wisdom, though I'm not sure I'd endorse the advice:
Moral of the story: if your dog (or other family member) needs immediate medical attention, don't stop for the police. No jury will convict you of eluding under those circumstances, and your family member is more likely to survive if you don't stop.