About the Cops

I was on the balcony at Tricky Falls a few years ago, talking to some guys who had come down from Las Cruces to see the Black Joe Lewis show. A police cruiser drove down South El Paso Street, and in the course of the conversation that followed, I said “Cops in El Paso aren’t that bad.” They looked at me like I was crazy.

I was crazy. I’m an old white guy. Even before the pandemic made me a recluse, I rarely left he house after dinner. My interactions with the popo are limited.

All I know is what I read in the paper, and the paper has it’s own bias. Good cops rarely get any ink.

I haven’t always been an old white guy. I haven’t always been a recluse. And I haven’t always gotten a lot of respect from El Paso’s finest.

Some cops are bullies. They think that civilians are the bottom rung of the militaristic hierarchy they’ve enrolled in. They think they outrank you.

I understand that there are situations where a police officer might feel the need to establish his dominance. You don’t want to let a group of citizens turn into a mob. But sometimes it’s just a cop flexing. They abuse their authority.

I think mostly, in El Paso, the police just want to do their jobs and get home. They don’t feel like they’ve been dropped behind enemy lines and they’ve got to fight their way back to the station, like you see in some movies set in Baltimore or New Jersey.

But the stories that make the paper?

Shooting a handcuffed prisoner in the back in the sallyport of the County Jail?

Shooting some skinny kid in the back in his own living room because he asked you to leave and you didn’t want to?

You can try to spin it any way you want, but that’s not right. Let’s strip those cases down to the bare facts, and try to keep the union lawyers out of it.

Official abuse isn’t just about race. Discrimination is usually more about class and socioeconomic status than the color of your skin. Rich people of any ethnicity are more likely to be treated well by the authorities than poor people, regardless of their heritage.

There should be some accountability, but as soon as the public starts asking questions, the situation devolves into an Us versus Them mentality. The union fights hard to get those officers’ off the hook, if the officers get disciplined at all.

And the public doesn’t even hear about it till someone dies. How many cases of extrajudicial “street justice” go unreported here in El Paso?

Why don’t El Paso Police wear body cameras? Body cameras would allow police to defend themselves from unfounded allegations. And body cameras would do a lot to assure the public that the police will behave.

I don’t think that police in El Paso are bad. But I’m an old white guy. And if young people in our community think that there’s something wrong, then we should listen to them.


  1. Seems there’s been at least two discussions on them. 2017 article in the Times about it. City council deleted two items about the cams. Though there is a lot of smoke being blown about them. https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/texasregion/2017/12/08/body-worn-cameras-raise-questions-concerns-el-paso-police/929271001/

    Then in 2019, the police department ordered 34 cams through a community foundation grant. https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/crime/2019/05/01/el-paso-police-buy-34-body-cameras-start-using-them-june/3642929002/

    I’m all for every patrol officer and some supervisors to be equipped with them. I’m also of the opinion that they should be on constantly and the officers shouldn’t be able to turn them off.

  2. You know how much I love those guys no one else has ever kicked my ass while in handcuffs .Too many become cops for the wrong reasons , There are some that are good people they should be upset when a bad cop paints a target on all of them and speak out.

  3. Like a city on the verge of bankruptcy can now afford body cams? They don’t even fix the frickin’ streets! We just commented the other day on this big project along Pellicano, east of George Dieter, where they are building little artistically curved rock walls for beautification, but the street itself remains patched, bumpy, uneven, and otherwise, way behind any maintenance. How do we have money for all the median work, when the streets themselves continue to deteriorate?

  4. Remember when Officer Flores shot to fame in January 2013 after he bought an 83-year-old homeless veteran boots? Well, on March 8, 2013 the same officer shot a handcuffed prisoner in the back in the sallyport of the County Jail. He was reinstated to EPPD in September 2016.

    ANYWAY… The first and third sentences above could be considered positive stories that made the paper. The City attempted top hide the second story for as long as possible which is why the video was not released until Jun 18, 2014. A full 4 months after our outgoing District Attorney failed to get an grand jury to indict.

  5. EPPD and their union will never voluntarily accept to incorporate body cams into the department.
    The city will always back their reasonings for not wearing body cams, through making excuses ranging from the cost to purchase and maintain, to the field logistics of wearing them.

    The bottom line is that body cams will capture things that EPPD, union, and city do not want the public to see.

    The EPPD Jose Flores case was just a one in a million, because the sally port cameras capture the homicide, but in true fashion it ended with, we (city, police, union, county) against the people.

    And we all know the outcome.

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