The lead story in the Wednesday edition of the Middlesboro Daily News was “MPD Officer slaps suspect, suspended for two weeks”. In case you missed it, Green admitted to slapping a suspect who was under the control of another officer. The other officer was in the process of handcuffing the 125 pound woman when Officer Green struck her.
“I smacked her in the face with my right hand,” Green told the Middlesboro City Council during the hearing, recalling the details of the encounter that landed the woman at the hospital.
Ultimately, the council voted that Green was guilty on a charge of “excessive use of force.” They suspended Green for two weeks without pay.
Public commentary on the story has varied.
One reader’s clever comment: “Two weeks without pay not enough. This guy needs to be cut loose by the city before he ends up really hurting someone. Sorry Officer Green you're just that... too green!”
Another person generalizes that Green’s behavior is typical of the department’s officers, “Slapping anyone when they are handcuffed and subdued is possibly going to result in a lawsuit against the city and I could guarantee she would win, no matter the reason. What he did reflects negative response on the whole police dept. Get rid of him, like yesterday. There are a lot of great officers that put his/her lives on the line everyday and to put this renegade policing the streets puts a stain on the force.”
Green certainly acted in a manner unbecoming an officer, and we think that he got off with a pretty light sentence. However, we hesitate to attribute this type of behavior to the entire force. We hope this isn’t happening to other suspects. If it is, it seems that Police Chief Jeff Sharpe and the Middlesboro City Council are on to something, have a hearing to decide on a fair solution!
We entirely agree with the reader who said: “It’s good to see [the] council getting involved in these matters. That should have happened long ago. One person doing it all becomes too much of a personality issue.”
This is a step in the right direction for the Middlesboro City Council and we want to applaud them for getting involved with city personnel issues via the ordinance amending the city’s personnel policy. The most significant change to the policy allows these public hearings for city employees accused of wrongdoing. It gives some structure to managing personnel problems and it means that department heads are no longer both the judge and the jury (and in some cases, the accused).