As last week’s video of a McKinney, Texas police officer throwing a 15-year-old girl to the ground continues to circulate, a larger discussion is forming around the use of profanity in professional settings.
The officer, Eric Casebolt, used profane language in front of and at teenagers after tensions arose at a pool party. While the incident allegedly started because two white women told the black teens to “go back to their Section 8 homes,” the situation continued to escalate as the officer cursed at the teens.
Daniel Malenfant, lodge president of the McKinney Fraternal Order of Police, stated that police cursing at juveniles or citizens “diminishes the professional image which is expected” yet qualified that by saying it may happen in situations when officers try to “gain control of unruly subjects who are not complying with officer demands.” McKinney Police Department Chief Greg Conley called Casebolt’s actions as “out of control” and “indefensible.” Officer Casebolt has resigned.
Is there ever an appropriate situation for police to use profanity at the scene of the crime? Does it make a difference that the suspects were juveniles? What are police trained when it comes to using profanity on the job?
John Crank, author of “Understanding Police Culture” (Routledge, 2004) and retired professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha