Bad people make bad cops, so the saying goes.
Judging by what officers Alter and Ederheimer did in their careers years after I encountered them, the adage is quite true.
The mission statement of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) states that “We will strive at all times to accomplish our mission with a focus on service … (and) integrity …”
Alter and Ederheimer—as well as unknown numbers of others that are like them—make a mockery of that mission.
Bad People Make Bad Cops
Case No. 1 – Mr. John Alter
According to sources, including a lawyer familiar with the matter, later in his career, Alter was assigned to work at a desk at the MPD Police Academy. While at that post, he allegedly committed ethics violations and possibly criminal offenses. Alter’s actions were investigated by the Washington, D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, which was then headed by Eric Holder.
I am privy to information that I have discussed with legal authorities that verifies the allegation that Alter and Ederheimer together committed unsavory and unethical violations that impugn their integrity.
I am not at liberty to discuss the details of the information at the time of this printing. However, after more digging and lawyering up, I intend to release the information into the court of public opinion via major and social media. My intent is to expose the truth and let the chips fall where they may. However, if I am successful in exposing these morally flawed law enforcers, I believe it would serve as an example of the benefits of tracking down information that once exposed could lead to the removal of bad cops from police forces.
As activist and journalist Ida B. Wells, said: “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
Alter and Ederherheimer will be given the opportunity to defend themselves against any allegations that may spring from the release of sensitive information, which is more than what they extended to me when they and their gang attacked me.
To be continued …
Bad People Make Bad Cops
Case No. 2 – Mr. Joshua Ederheimer
In 2008, the Washington Examiner published a story about Ederheimer’s bad behavior under this headline: “D.C. Deputy Police Chief Demoted.” Actually, Ederheimer has been demoted at least twice during his career, each in a high profile manner. Ederheimer was first demoted from commander by police chief Charles Ramsey, and then he left the department under pressure. A second police chief, Cathy Lanier, brought him back into the department as her deputy but demoted him again. Both demotions were for unspecified reasons, however there were allegations that Ederheimer had engaged in unethical activities that were detrimental to the effective operations of the police department.
Apparently, for Ederheimer, now a Department of Justice senior adviser, demotions have not been his only problems stemming from his dirty dealings. In a racial discrimination complaint against him, a black police officer under Ederheimer’s command alleged that Ederheimer used racist tactics to demean him because of his appearance. The officer, Jeff Robinson, wore dreadlocks that were “short” and “neat,” according to The Washington City Paper, which published a story about the matter. Nevertheless, Ederheimer was accused of harassing Robinson because of the way he wore his hair. The newspaper reported that Robinson alleged that Ederheimer ordered him to “keep his police hat on in the station at all times—a requirement that applied to no other officers.”
Robinson’s lawyer, Diane Seltzer, told the newspaper that “Making him wear his hat was like making him wear a ‘Kick me’ sign … There’s nothing wrong with his hair. This is a clear case of discrimination. Can you say, ‘white against black’?”
After I discovered that Alter and Ederheimer, whose checkered pasts include abusing black men and exhibiting other unsavory behavior, are now in positions of authority, I began to wonder whether how common is it that bad street cops end up occupying high positions in the chain of command.
When bad cops like Alter and Ederheimer become responsible for determining whether a street cop abused a black man or committed other ethics violations or crimes, wouldn’t they have moral conflicts? Even if the accused cop is blatantly guilty, wouldn’t officials who themselves abused black men and gotten away with it refuse to hold the cop fully accountable? Wouldn’t they be conflicted or feel like hypocrites if they were to punish a cop for doing the same thing they themselves did when they were street cops?
I find these questions intriguing, but more so troubling. The answers to the questions may suggest that police officials cannot police bad cops, because many of the officials themselves may be bad cops.
While the adage is true that bad people make bad cops, the opposite is also true: good people make good cops. Despite my run-ins with bad cops like Officer Alter, Ederheimer and others, I can gratefully say—and I cannot say it enough—that I have met my share of good cops, too.
It is just so grossly unfortunate that I am almost as likely to have a close encounter with a bad cop, like Alter or Ederheimer, as I am with a good cop. Yes, almost just as likely. I believe that there are bad and good people in equal portions serving on police forces across America. I am certainly not alone in this perception.
Paul Butler, a Yale- and Harvard-educated lawyer and author says that based on his personal experiences and deep research, he has determined that across the country, there is a two-part construct that commonly impairs the relationship between law enforcement and black men: First, he says, “all” black men “are perceived to be thugs. So, when we leave the house, we have to do this performance to prove that we’re safe. The second part is the way that the law … responds. They respond by trying to put down the threat.”
My experiences with Alter, Ederheimer and others like them have shown me that there are some very bad people in police uniforms and that they excessively harass and attack black men in an effort to “put down the threat.” Their actions, which are akin to soldiers incapacitating “the enemy,” have severe consequences for good cops, because bad cop activities can engender resentment within black men. This resentment sometimes leads to retribution that is randomly and violently unleashed upon good cops by black men behaving like blindfolded, karmic dues collectors. Tragically, sooner or later, some good cop somewhere is going to pay for something a bad cop did.
Former US Attorney General Eric Holder discussed the repercussions bad cops can have on good cops. He warned America that “Negative practices by individual law enforcement officers … present a significant danger not only to their communities, but also to committed and hard-working public safety officials around the country, who perform incredibly challenging jobs with unwavering professionalism and uncommon valor.”
In a 2009 FBI study entitled, “Violent Encounters: Felonious Assaults on America’s Law Enforcement Officers,” researchers and behavioral scientists vigorously investigated the circumstances surrounding police killings. Describing the purpose of the study, the FBI Bulletin reported:
One question remained during these years of inquiry into law enforcement safety. With all of the modern developments in technology and training, why do the numbers of officers killed and assaulted each year remain, on average, the same? The law enforcement community knows many of the tactical problems and issues facing officers on the street. Instructors and agencies continue to redesign training to reflect this ever-increasing knowledge. Officers themselves have sought additional training in street tactics and survival at their own expense. And, yet, these numbers of killings and assaults remain somewhat constant. Why?
From 2000 to 2010, about 640 police officers were killed in America—more than one each week. About 270 of those killings (40 percent) were committed by black men. Judging by those figures, black men kill roughly one cop every two weeks. What is their motivation? I am sure it varies, but I wonder how many black cop killers who put police officers six feet deep were influenced by police abuse they experienced sometime during the course of their lives.
Over the course of five decades, I have spoken to hundreds of black men who have said they have been harassed, abused or brutalized by police officers. Such men, myself included, tend to understand why a black man would want to kill cops. The FBI report suggests that police officials, despite their expensive armor, weapons, training and technology, do not.
Thorough, nationwide investigations into the experiences of black men who kill cops will help determine the extent to which actual instances of excessive policing played a part in their motivation. If such investigations have already been conducted, it should be widely shared. My research into this area of inquiry has focused on selected cities, primarily in Washington, DC. In future volumes of The War in America, starting with volume 2: Disrespect Black People at Your Own Risk, I will share insights that I have gained through studying black men who violently retaliate to effect change in law enforcement.