The cold hard fact is, municipal police departments are corrupt all across this land. Huntsville is no exception. The only reason Huntsville hasn’t experienced the same problems as Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore, is simply that Huntsville has a high per capita income. And while it may not be equitably distributed across all classes, it does smooth out a lot of the potentially larger problems. Even still, there are multiple, serious, problems inside the law enforcement, judicial and penal systems throughout North Alabama.
Unfortunately, I have had my own encounters with Huntsville police. Once such encounter I well remember is the time when I met Danny Golden. I was out on my bike one day when an idiot in his personally owned vehicle was dogging me out. I flipped him off and headed down another street minding my own business. All of a sudden a cop car came screaming down the street from the other direction and stopped about twenty yards from me. Golden jumped out of the car and yelled “drop the gun.” It was the most bizarre and ridiculous behaviour I’d ever seen in a cop. At the time, I had no gun with me.
I stood there with my hands up, and he yelled again, “get down on the ground.” I looked at him and in an instant I knew this guy was trigger happy and dangerous. Having a seriously loaded gun in my face, and seeing the wild eyed expression on his face, I knew he was psyched out and over-the-top. It evoked in me a rather odd feeling indeed. But, my life didn’t flash before my eyes, I didn’t have that much time. I was too busy thinking that I may very well be a dead man whether I flinch or not. I did as he asked, and I basically kissed the pavement.
Under the circumstances, someone less experienced and less mature than myself, might not have been able to read the wild-eyed officer as well, and there is no question that he was ready to shoot to kill. Someone else would’ve probably been dead. That was my assessment when it happened, and it still is today.
There were other problems in the equation. Most noticeably, he had entered what he (erroneously) believed to be a dangerous situation – with absolutely no backup what-so-ever. In fact, no backup ever did arrive. Further, he was ridiculously persistent in attempting to make the false accusations stick. Eventually, he relented and we both went on out way. He had no interest in taking a counter complaint for harassment by the real offending idiot in the POV.
It took me awhile after that to further size up the situation I had with Danny Golden. First, my assessment that he was impetuous, trigger happy, and over the top, only became more abiding. Then I realized, the lack of backup spelled more than just one other problem. Dispatch had failed to do their job – or worse, deliberately left him uncovered. It even occurred to me that he was just being a smart ass, and that he was in cahoots with the guy who was harassing me to start with. In other words, cell phones not dispatch, might also explain his lack of cover. Eventually I came to the conclusion that dispatch, for whatever reason, had not done their job properly.
I say that, for one reason, because you might notice a familiar ring in the situation with Benito Albarran. Officer Golden showed up at the El Jalisco restaurant on Jordan Lane first, before his buddies, and impetuously went in head first. I’m not saying Danny Golden was a “bad” cop, I’m saying his psychological assessment by HPD was inadequate when he was hired, that he was poorly trained, and that maybe he was set up by his own kind – and I’m saying he was no hero.
Most importantly, I’m saying Danny Golding is the unfortunate illustration of one of the systemic problems in HPD, which is inadequate vetting and inadequate training. Golden, just 27, had been on the police force for only three years when he was killed. While not exactly a rookie, he was hardly an experienced, battle hardened veteran either. Which is to make another point. A poorly trained officer is not likely to be too cocky with his commanding officer, and that means he’s not going to ask a lot of questions about policy and procedure that his superiors, and the Mayor of Huntsville, might find uncomfortable to answer. So, while HPD brass harps about funding for training, etc., the fact may very well be – they wouldn’t have it any other way.
© 2015 – Jim Casey
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