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Who you gonna call? 

There’s nothing I hate worse than a party pooper. I can’t think of a better term for an asshole who ruins everyone’s good time because, well, he’s an asshole. But we all know the type of person I’m talking about.

You know, it’s Thursday night and you and your buddies are hanging out at the local watering hole, shooting the breeze, everything’s peaceful and friendly, when a guy with an ego the size of Texas strolls into the bar, refuses to leave when the bartender politely asks him to, and winds up inciting a brawl that disrupts business, smashes up the joint, and prompts one of the patrons to call the sheriff’s department in sheer terror as the entire bar is forced to evacuate onto the street.

It’s even worse when that guy happens to be a cop—but hey, the Morro Bay police don’t exactly have a reputation for being the most friendly or reasonable of people. And what happened in the wee hours of Friday, June 8, is going down as yet another black mark against them.

Our story begins with a couple of police officers who seem to think it’s appropriate to stroll into bars unannounced, uninvited, and apparently without cause stated to anyone. I myself enjoy a good bar strut every now and again, but these peacocks are packing tazers and mace, and according to at least one bartender, they refused to leave when requested to do so. I know there’s a charming, quaint tradition of cops believing that they’re somehow above the law they’re paid to enforce—it’s a riddle I’ve yet to figure out, how someone can swear an oath to protect the law and then casually piss all over it when it suits them to do so. Police are now saying they have the right to invade bars for the sake of checking up on patrons and bartenders. But do they have the right  to goad people into breaking the law?

For whatever reason, the cops zeroed in on one patron and ordered him outside. By all accounts—and there are many—he wasn’t mouthing off. He wasn’t disorderly. He wasn’t fighting. He was behaving exactly the way you would hope someone at a bar would behave. (Most people think the system works as follows: If our well-behaved patron accompanied the police outside, there was a good chance they would cite him for being drunk in public. Seems kind of hypocritical, right? Dragging someone who’s not causing any trouble outside of the bar so you can nail him with a drunk in public?) The guy’s friends seemed to think so, too, because they warned him that if he went outside that was exactly what would happen. So the guy refused, and the cops physically dragged him outside, and he did in fact wind up getting charged with being drunk in public.

Did they have another reason for making contact with this guy in the bar in the first place? Maybe. But if so, I haven’t heard one, and even if they had a good one—a great one—they sure botched their approach.

Oh, and in between ordering their “suspect” outside for no obvious reason anyone could tell and charging him with being drunk in public, the cops tazered him anywhere between five and 15 times and maced him in the face because he resisted when they decided to drag him outside. And yeah, it’s true that resisting arrest is a crime, but what’s it called when the cops have no apparent business arresting you in the first place? The other patrons were so terrified by the cops’ behavior that one of them tried to intervene—only to later be arrested for attempting to incite a riot—and another called the sheriff’s department to try to get a sheriff’s deputy to protect them from the cops.

Silly bar patrons. It’s true that sheriff’s deputies—and other cops, for that matter—are paid to protect you (paid by you, in fact), but the unspoken part of the agreement is that they occasionally get to beat the crap out of you and no law enforcement officer—whatever the department—is going to intervene. In fact, you can be damned sure that the Morro Bay Police Department is currently shuffling around paperwork and getting stories in line to justify what happened that night. And however many of you stand up in defense of the patron who was unceremoniously dragged outside, tazered, and maced, the deck has already been stacked in favor of the police. If you don’t believe me, just look at what’s already happened: The guy who got dragged outside was charged with drunk in public and resisting arrest—both of which only happened because he was acted upon by an outside force (hint: the police). The people who dragged him into public and beat him are no doubt preparing to testify against him. No charges will ever be filed against them.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy a good ol’ fashioned cop rough-up as much as the next red-blooded American. It’s right up there with apple pie and buying a gas-guzzling SUV to drive Junior to soccer practice. But I can’t abide hypocrisy. And a system in which cops are paid to do what ordinary citizens are arrested for seems broken and decidedly undemocratic.

And if the lingering stench of injustice doesn’t get you hot under the collar, consider the stigma of being a tourist town with cops who wander through businesses roughing up the customers. Morro Bay seems to be all about the tourists these days, and I don’t think many people plan their vacations where there’s a good chance of getting a lungful of mace for stopping by a bar for a cold one. Then again, maybe they’re angling for the S&M crowd.

Shredder thinks the Morro Bay cops are sorry—but not as in “apologetic.” Send your opinion to [email protected].


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