Support Your Local Sadist

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If you suspect that the “friendly” police officer who pulls up behind or beside you is sizing you up as a revenue-producing snack, you’re probably right. In cities subject to a federally subsidized pilot program involving forced blood tests, that officer might be looking for a chance to get his jollies by jabbing you with a needle.

“When police officer Darryll Dowell is on patrol in the southwestern Idaho city of Nampa, he’ll pull up at a stoplight and usually start casing the vehicle,” begins a recent AP story. “Nowadays, his eyes will also focus on the driver’s arms, as he tries to search for a plump, bouncy vein.”

“I was looking at people’s arms and hands, thinking, `I could draw from that,’ Dowell said.”

Dowell is among the “select cadre” of local tax-feeders assigned to act as “officer phlebotomists” through a program funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The specter of being pinned down and jabbed with a syringe by a uniformed lummox is intended to extort cooperation with breath tests, a less invasive (and less infection-prone) method of forcing a citizen to submit to a warrantless search of his person and provide potentially self-incriminating evidence.

And besides, for police personnel with a salient streak of sadism — a personality type that tends to be over-represented in law enforcement —  it’s just fun.

There are other ways for sadists in blue to get their kicks, such as gratuitously pepper-spraying retirement-age women.

Darren Charpentier, who had been with the police force in Golden Meadow, Louisiana for two years, was recently fired after he managed to provoke a confrontation with 61-year-old Jennifer Calais over the window tinting on her second-hand Ford pickup.

Charpentier actually hassled Mrs. Calais over the matter twice. The first time he chased her into the parking lot of her home, and spoke to her threateningly when she and her husband called the state police. The officer called for backup, but no ticket was issued.

A few days later, Charpentier noticed Mrs. Calais during a traffic stop involving another motorist. When the lady suggested going to town hall to discuss the situation with Charpentier’s superior, the officer bellowed, “You don’t tell me what to do.”

The situation rapidly degenerated from there. Mrs. Calais’s foot slipped on a brake pedal, causing her car to lurch forward about a foot. When Charpentier thrust himself through her driver’s side window, Mrs. Calais reached for her cell phone to call for help. The officer — who reportedly weighed more than 300 pounds — handcuffed one of the woman’s wrists and tried to drag her from the vehicle, and then violently twisted her arm behind her back.

“You’re hurting me,” protested the helpless 61-year-old woman.

“That’s what pain is for,” sneered Officer Charpentier, who really needs to get his back dirty.

Mrs. Calais, who was understandably in fear for her life, continued to put up what resistance she could, and was twice pepper-sprayed by Charpentier. She was eventually charged with aggravated battery, resisting arrest, violence to a police officer, and disturbing the peace.

After being released on a $5,000 bond, Calais — supported by several family members and friends — told her story to the town council. Several others came forward to relate similar stories of their encounters with Charpentier, whose abusive and sadistic nature were well-known. The officer was terminated by a unanimous vote of the council.

“I want to apologize to all of you,” declared Councilman Jody Cheramie, who made the motion to bring about the belated but welcome termination of Charpentier. “Y’all elected me to protect you.”

In this case, Cheramie and the other council members were tragically tardy in carrying out their duty to protect their community from the police.

7:01 am on September 14, 2009