In a battle between a former and current police officer, the Phoenix police union's sticking with the cop on the job.
Even though the former cop is Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson, a longtime union supporter.
Better to stand by Officer Brian Authement, a two-year officer who wrestled Johnson to the ground and handcuffed him early Friday, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association's decided.
The incident happened when Johnson, who's Phoenix's only black councilman and a retired 21-year police veteran, was trying to check on his neighbor's home after it went up in flames. Authement, who's white, told him he couldn't be there and wound up manhandling Johnson.
Now, apparently, Johnson's relationship with PLEA's going up in flames.
On its Web site, PLEA states, "Two members of our police family [are] on opposing sides of a very serious issue, [but] we support the actions of our officer."
Union officials call for Johnson to take responsibility for his actions.
The unsigned message on the site states that Johnson "decided to breach a police line at the scene of a critical incident" and that the cop's "responsibility and duty of ... protecting that fire line is an important one and should not be taken lightly."
The union "closely examined the conduct of our officer and that of Councilman Johnson" and concluded that the " officer's actions were reasonable, within policy, and not racially motivated."
Johnson doesn't seem to think so. He's now calling for a civil rights investigation by the Department of Justice.
But where was Johnson when members of the Latino community were crying out about law enforcement officers profiling them during traffic stops and violating their civil rights?
Instead, Johnson supported PLEA as the union sought broader authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
In a guest column that appeared in the Arizona Republic on Oct. 26, 2007, Johnson offered his support for police officers who wanted to detain individuals they suspected were in the country illegally and call immigration authorities.
It's too bad that it isn't until a cop forces a politician to eat dirt that elected officials turn their attention to alleged police abuses and civil rights violations.
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