Overzealous Cops

By: Sabrina Zimring Email
By: Sabrina Zimring Email

Stories of overly aggressive police are becoming more and more common.

"There does seem to be more incidents recently than in the past and I don't know if that’s just a coincidence that things are happening all at once or underreporting in the past or the community is just growing."

Last month a Cedar Grove police officer allegedly threw an 82-year-old man to the ground. Reverend Jim Raines was helping a homeless man at Hiland Park United Methodist Church when the man became unruly.

Neighbors called police. One of the officers, Lt. Darren Gilmore, claimed Raines pointed his finger at him. He retaliated by throwing Raines down and cuffing him.

The state attorney’s office dropped charges against the preacher Tuesday. Now that Raines has been cleared of criminal charges, he and his attorney, Mike Hunter, are considering further legal action.

"I've always said police have an extremely difficult job and the vast majority of police do an incredible job at it. They're very professional. They usually do what they're supposed to do under the most difficult of circumstances. Once in a while you get someone who abuses their power, and to protect the integrity of the profession, they need to be held to a higher standard so everyone can have coincidence in their law enforcement."

This incident recalls another late-October scuffle between Panama City police and a 64-year-old man who was helping a pregnant pedestrian.

The man was accused of disobeying police, and the police are accused of overreacting.

Back in 2000, another Cedar Grove Police officer, David Ross, was found guilty of pistol whipping James Bulduc during a DUI traffic stop, and of course there’s the infamous Martin Lee Anderson boot camp case.

To some it seems local law enforcement officers are abusing their authority? Or are they simply being human, defending themselves in a threatening situation?

"You try and train your people to use good common sense to follow the guidelines, hopefully they're going to make the right decision."

And when they don't they're suppose to face the consequences.

"We take every complaint seriously and I don't know of an agency that doesn't. We had an officer pepper spraying an inmate and we fired him."

The recent incidents involving Panama City officers and Cedar Grove are under investigation.

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