Cop: Do What I Say and You Won't Get Shot
Sunil Dutta's piece sparks anger
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 20, 2014 11:11 AM CDT
Sunil Dutta argues that it's up to those police stop to 'prevent a detention from turning into a tragedy.'   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – As the crisis in Ferguson rages on, Los Angeles police officer Sunil Dutta has penned what's proven to be an inflammatory essay in the Washington Post. His message: "In the overwhelming majority of cases, it is not the cops, but the people they stop, who can prevent detentions from turning into tragedies." Dutta notes that, as a police officer, he has frequently encountered "tantrums" and "menacing encroachments on my safety zone." And he puts his conclusion bluntly: "If you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton, or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge."

Some responses to the piece by Dutta—also a professor of homeland security—from around the Web:

  • At Salon, Joanna Rothkopf slams Dutta's "victim-blaming screed," recalling cases like the pepper-spraying of peaceful students at UC Davis and the police who used a chokehold against Eric Garner. "The problem with institutionalized positions of authority is exactly what Dutta accidentally demonstrated—individuals in dominant social positions think that they are absolved of any criminal or otherwise malevolent impulse just because of their title."
  • "Dutta tries to generate some sympathy for the cops, writing, 'An average person cannot comprehend the risks and has no true understanding of a cop’s job,'" notes Benjamin Freed at the Washingtonian. "Neither does Dutta, however, if he thinks encounters with police officers can only end with immediate submission or the deployment of overwhelming force."
  • "If you really think that everybody else should 'just do what I tell you,' you're wearing the wrong uniform in the wrong country," JD Tuccille writes at Reason. "And if you really can't function with some give and take—a few nasty names, a little argument—of the sort that people in all sorts of jobs put up with every damned day, do us all a favor: quit."