Tuesday, March 29, 2005

How the Mighty Have Fallen -or- Drink at Home

This week - after 30 plus years on the Syracuse Police force and 9 months as Police Chief - Stephen Thompson stepped down, disgraced, after getting arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated after hitting a pedestrian.

There are several things that bother me about this one is level of irony in the story. It is more unfortunate then ironic, yet we see it as amusing. A man who’s job it is to serve the law and protect the public ends up breaking the law and hurting a pedestrian. Things like this break down how we look at police officers, similar to the way we would feel if a fire fighter’s home burned down. We think that because these people are iconic representatives of safety that they could never fall into the pits and traps of normal people. Cops bust drunken drivers not the other way around. Yet it happens cops drink and in this case got behind the wheel. Houses burn down and sometimes they belong to fire fighters. Yet when you or I were to clip someone while D-W-I it would have to fight to get press in a newspaper or be a very slow news day for it to get on air. Yet when an authority figure is treated like a common criminal everyone in society lines up to turn their nose down at them. For two days the local media has been airing file footage of a smiling Steven Thompson as anchors read copy about charges, trial dates, air 911 dispatch tapes where callers talk about an intoxicated driver. The video is from his first full day as police chief 9 months ago - now its being reused as we talk about his disgraceful exit. Thompson is expected in court at 5:30 p.m. next Monday I have a feeling he won't be smiling then.


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