Caught on Tape: Police Beating Teen Girl

Deputy Schene, no doubt to his everlasting regret, made his choice. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say he let his emotions make the choice for him, for as fleetingly satisfying as it may have been to knock the impudent girl around the cell for a bit, had he considered the consequences of his actions before undertaking them he surely would have chosen another course.

The typical police officer comes from a family that instills in him a respect for the law and for lawful authority, and early in his career he is surprised to encounter so many people in whom such a respect is lacking. In a matter of months he is no longer surprised to meet such people, having come to accept them as part of the landscape. But when he encounters one who is already, at the age of 15, so deficient in that respect that she feels at liberty to call him a "fat pig" after he has found her in a stolen car in the middle of the night, well, he can find that his fuse has been somewhat shortened.

But people rightfully expect better of police officers, and despite whatever provocation the girl may have committed, in reacting as he did Deputy Schene brought discredit to himself, his fellow deputies, and police officers everywhere. Now he needs to face the consequences.

But what should those consequences be? Schene is an eight-year veteran of the King County Sheriff's Department, and without knowing anything else about him I can guess that during those eight years he has risked his life several times, most often without the slightest recognition by his superiors or the citizens he serves. What an injustice it would be if those eight years of service are overshadowed by thirty seconds of videotape.

I don't suggest for a moment that Deputy Schene should escape punishment, but I would ask that his entire career be taken into account when that punishment is calculated.