Our little town is outraged by the misbehavior of its police force. Not because of racial profiling, which I would hope is less prevalent here than in some other Florida communities. Not because of cops taking bribes, which I sincerely doubt they do.
What has the local citizens riled up is a series of sexual encounters between some on-duty male cops – senior cops at that – and a female analyst who worked for the department. The news has been spread across the front page of the local paper on numerous occasions, and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars are being eaten up in investigation expenses and legal fees.
It may not sound like earth shattering news to you, but here in Polk County we expect better of our law enforcement officers. We don’t put up with hanky-panky. Indeed, our sheriff, a moral crusader named Grady Judd, is so hard on sexual misbehavior that he has driven every last sex shop out of the county, and forced strip-show operators to locate across the country line in Hillsborough. You might have heard of Sheriff Judd. He’s quite famous.
As you could tell from the letters to the editor in the local paper, we expect our law enforcement folks to be above reproach. And in most cases, they try to be. But – as I’ve been saying – there were these … encounters …
As a lifelong reporter, I guess I’m somewhat jaded. I don’t expect cops to be perfect – or anything even close. There used to be a saying over in Pasco County, when I worked there, that cops have the best dope. And a past sheriff was widely suspected of masterminding the county’s narcotics trade.
I could spend the rest of the day recounting drug running tales involving Florida cops, but that’s not what this blog is about.
What got me going- jaded as I am – was a story in this morning’s Salon.com about a really, really scary cop. This guy makes our Romeos look like choirboys. His name is Mark Kessler (pictured above), and he’s the police chief of Gilberton, a tiny community in eastern Pennsylvania.
This story is not about sex. I guess Kessler’s too busy for the minor escapades that have set Lakeland’s tongues wagging.
He’s certainly too busy to enforce traffic laws. As he told a local Tea Party gathering, “I’ve got better things to do with my time than worry about somebody who’s got a broken taillight. Seriously, I really do.”
As the Salon piece – by Alex Seitz-Wald – explains:
Better things, for Kessler, include opening new chapters of the paramilitary militia group he founded, pushing legislation to fight the encroaching tyranny of the federal government, and making flamboyant YouTube videos that portray him “shoot[ing] a libtard out of a tree” or taunting the United Nations, but always shooting lots and lots of souped-up guns.
If there’s one thing Chief Kessler can’t abide it’s us “libtards.” And he doesn’t care who knows it. He makes that quite plain in his You Tube videos. Here’s an excerpt (as quoted in Salon) from one of his rants:
For all you people out there who cried and cried about, Oh, I used profanity,’ f———– you! Here’s what I got to say, if you didn’t get enough the first time around, go f— yourself and get some more!
Kessler adds an exclamation point to the videotaped rant by firing a volley from his AK-47. Then, according to Salon:
After the magazine is empty, he steps off screen to grab an M-16 rifle with a drum magazine. “Go f—- yourself again!” the police chief says before squeezing. Afterwards, he disappears and returns a third time, this time with a handgun, also loaded with a drum magazine. “All you f—-ing libtards out there, all you f—-ing crybabies, grow a pair of b—s and man the f—- up. Alright? You’re a f—-ing bunch of p——s,” he says, before discharging the third weapon.
The deletions are mine, not Salon’s. You can read the actual quote by clicking on the link at the bottom of this blog.
Does this creep scare you as much as he does me? Of course, he’s not likely to hurt me personally. He’s far away in the Pennsylvania coal fields. But it’s what he represents that gives me the willies.
Kessler is undoubtedly extreme, but he is not unique. Across America, crazy cops keep cropping up, a racist Arizona sheriff here, a bunch of sadistic New York officers there (and there and there and there), trigger-happy troopers in California … I’m sure you know the stories.
I am left wondering who is supposed to police the police? Anyone?
When you consider the widespread powers that law officers enjoy in this country and the biases that infect the population at large, don’t you shiver at the thought of meeting an armed and dangerous lawman on a lonely road some dark night?