Utilitarianism vs. Human Rights-Based Policing

Scenario:

Officer D. Tainer works for the University Police Department.  While working the midnight shift, the dispatcher asked Officer D. Tainer to respond to a domestic violence call. Upon arrival, the victim, Margarie Blackmon, ran out of her house up to Officer D. Tainer’s patrol car.  Margarie appeared to dishevel (crying and shaking) holding her cell phone.

Margarie took a couple of deep breaths and then said, “My husband, Carl Blackmon, punched me in the face which knocked me down, and while I was lying on the floor, he put his hands around my throat, which made it difficult to breathe.  As Carl was strangling me our son children Michael who is 4-years-old, woke up because of the noise and saw what his father was doing and started hitting Carl yelling at him to stop hurting his mommy.”

Officer D. Tainer asked Margarie if Carl was still in the house.

 “No,” replied Margarie, “that is what I am trying to tell you; Carl took Michael and left the house in his black pickup truck before you arrived.  I received a text after he left, and that is why I called the police.”

Officer D. Tainer said, “Let me see the text.”  Margarie turned her phone around so Officer D. Tainer could read the text from Carl, which said, “I cannot take this anymore, I am going to end my life and our sons because I know he means more to you than anything else in the world.  I am going to kill Michael because this is the only way I can hurt you as you have hurt me, and if I cannot have you, no one will.”

 Margarie said, “I did not hurt him; I just asked for a divorce because I found out he had been cheating on me.”

Officer D. Tainer asked Margarie, “Does Carl have any weapons like a gun or knife with him that you know of?”

 “Yes, he has a gun; I do not know what kind, but he has a conceal and carry license,” replied Margarie.

Officer D. Tainer, notified dispatch of the information he obtained and requested a BOLO, which is to be on the lookout for Carl Blackmon and his son Michael Blackmon.  Officers were to arrest on site, and the suspect may be armed and dangerous.

Within minutes, an officer arrested Carl, who was walking down a side street by the University City Lake; Michael was not with Carl.

At the station, Carl refused to tell the officers where Michael was, and said, “You might as well lock me up because when you find him, it will be too late.  It is all Margarie’s fault if she had not asked for a divorce; I would not have had to do what I have done.”

”What have you done Carl?” Asked Officer D. Tainer. Officer D. Tainer tried to convince Carl to tell him where Michael was, but Carl remained silent. Officer D. Tainer contacted the detectives on duty, Al Catchem and J. Walker, and filled them in on the particulars of the case.

 Detectives Catchem and Walker met Officer D. Tainer in the interrogation room and before questioning Carl, Detective Catchem said, “Officer D. Tainer we have it from here.  I would appreciate it if you would wait outside in the hall and do not let anyone in this room until I tell you to?”

Officer D. Tainer hesitated for a minute and then said, “Yes.”  Officer D. Tainer stepped outside the interrogation room, and Detective Walker shut the door behind him.

Officer D. Tainer did not know what was going on in the interrogation room, but there was a lot of commotion that sounded like furniture being turned over, and then there was some grunting, crying, and yelling. After a few minutes, there was no further noise coming from the room, and then Detective Walker opened the door.  Officer D. Tainer thought Detective Walker appeared disheveled; he was leaning on the doorframe taking deep breaths, he had his shirtsleeves rolled up, and the knuckles on his right hand were bloody.

Officer D. Tainer asked, “Detective Walker, are you alright?”

Detective Walker said, “Oh, this,” and looked down at his shirt and knuckles.  “I tripped over the chair and scuffed my knuckles on the wall as I was falling; I am ok.”

 Detective Catchem interjected and said, “We know where Michael is, send every unit to the University City Lake.  Get the rescue divers out there too; maybe there is still time to save him.  Carl tied Michael to the seat of the truck with duct tape and rolled the truck into the lake, hoping to drown him.”

The Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) who responded to the lake notified Detective Catchem that Michael was located in the cab of the truck, and was not hurt.  A log at the bottom of the lake prevented the truck tires from rolling any further into the water.  Michael is fine and is in the ambulance waiting for Margarie to arrive and pick him up.

Assignment:

Write a 2 to 3 paragraph paper, which should be a minimum of 250 words – evaluate and discuss whether torture is effective.  Does the end justify the means? Should the police use immoral means to reach a desired moral end?

“In effect, police…become our sin eaters of early folklore; they are the shady characters on the fringe of society who absorb evil so the rest of us may remain pure.  These people are depended upon to protect us, but shunned and avoided when their actions see the light of day.” (Pollock, 2019, p. 448).

 
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