A reader writes:
As a general matter -- when police officers are involved in a traffic stop, they are in the middle of a potentially dangerous situation. When citizens approach them yelling and screaming, whatever the substance, that does constitute disorderly conduct, because it is interfering with the ability of the police to give their full attention to the traffic stop and to ensure both their own safety and the safety of the person they have stopped.
Second, here is the instigation for this incident, according to Pepin Tuma:
Then the group noticed five or six police cruisers surrounding two cars in an apparent traffic stop on the other side of the street. It seemed to Tuma that was more cops than necessary. "That's why I hate the police," Tuma said.
It's apparent that Tuma knows nothing about police work. There are TWO cars stopped here.
That is not a standard traffic stop, by definition. So clearly, something more was going on. Tuma, however, with zero experience or knowledge, thinks he is able to judge the correctness of police procedure despite knowing nothing of the facts. It's quite possible that a serious crime was being investigated, one in which the suspects may have been armed and dangerous. It is rare for any more than two police cars to be in one place at one time unless there is a risk of danger or violence. That makes Tuma's behavior that much worse, and justifies an arrest for disorderly conduct. The conduct is not criticizing the police -- it is interfering with their work in a way that could put both police and citizens in danger.
But the cop, according to the story, had to cross the intersection to arrest someone for singing "I hate the police." That's not a member of the public approaching a cop yelling and screaming and preventing him from doing his job. But we only have one side of the story. I'll try to keep tabs on what happens next.
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