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Sep 7, 2017

How Police Overreach Backfires on Law Enforcement

This is the second and final blog post that deals with a recent viral video, showing a nurse in Utah getting violently arrested for refusing to let a detective perform a blood alcohol content (BAC) test on an unconscious driver. In our first post, we discussed how the BAC test would actually have been an illegal search.

Here, we’ll show how every time a police officer overreaches in his or her attempts to enforce a law, it makes law enforcement much more difficult in the future.

Utah Incident Showcases Heavy-Handed Law Enforcement

The viral video caught an incident that happened on July 26, 2017, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A detective wanted to conduct a BAC test on a truck driver who had been involved in an accident with a suspect who had been fleeing police. The officers, however, didn’t have a warrant, didn’t have the trucker’s consent to take a blood sample, and didn’t have probable cause to think that the trucker had been operating under the influence (OUI). The nurse on duty, Alex Wubbels, followed hospital policy and refused to let the detective near her patient. So the detective arrested Wubbels, dragging her from the hospital.

How Overreaching Law Enforcement Backfires in the Long Run

It is the job of police to root out crime and apprehend those who are committing it. However, police frequently get carried away with their job of enforcing the law, making arrests for no reason, conducting searches that violate someone’s civil rights and using excessive force to apprehend people who may have done nothing wrong.

Police often hide behind the fact that they are “just trying to enforce the law.” However, studies have shown that these heavy-handed law enforcement techniques sow distrust in the police, and this distrust actually makes it far more difficult for police to enforce the law.

One such study examined 911 calls in the immediate aftermath of the vicious police beating of Frank Jude. In the year after the beating, which was widely reported both locally and nationally, 911 calls in the area of the beating fell by 17% as residents distrusted the local police force.

However, as 911 calls dropped, homicides in the area rose, in large part because victims of crimes preferred to seek revenge on their own, rather than call the police. This put local residents in far greater danger, as people increasingly took matters into their own, less capable, hands.

William T. Bly: A Criminal Defense Attorney in Maine

Already, we’ve seen that the Utah detective’s heavy-handed approach to getting his BAC test is backfiring: The hospital where Ms. Wubbels works has restricted police access to nurses, patients, and much of the building.

Unfortunately, police tend not to think of the long-term effects of their conduct, and instead focus exclusively on “getting the bad guys” they see in the moment. This puts everyone in danger and actually makes the world far more dangerous in the weeks, months, and years to come.

This is just one of the reasons why criminal defense attorney William T. Bly fights to defend people who have been accused of a crime in the state of Maine. Contact him online or call his law office at (207) 571-8146.

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