Attorney: Treat Citizens Like Children

The problem isn’t the police; it’s the people. That’s the underlying theme of a controversial editorial that appeared in Protect San Jose earlier this week. The piece was written by attorney Terry Bowman, who represents one of the officers involved in the videotaped beating of Vietnamese student Phuong Ho this September.

Bowman begins her piece by describing an idyllic classroom. The students may not like the teacher, but they still obey and follow instructions. “The authority of the teacher must be respected.” She then compares the teacher to the SJPD. “Like any teacher in a classroom, a police officer is in charge,” she writes, leaving implied that if the police officer is the teacher, the _______ is the student.
a) citizen
b) mayor
c) chief of police
d) defense attorney

But things aren’t always so idyllic. Considering what happens in school, what should happen when someone disobeys the police?
a) They have to stand in the corner.
b) They receive a detention.
c) They have to take a note home to their parents.
d) They get beaten up and tasered.
e) All of the above.

Now for reading comprehension:
Bowman writes: “Can it really be that in the heart of Silicon Valley we expect better listening skills from our _______?”
a) kindergarteners
b) middle school students
c) high schoolers
d) police department

Essay question:
Why does Ms. Bowman believe that citizens should be treated like children?
Read More at Protect San Jose.


  1. Actually this woman thinks we citizens should be treated like terrorists.  Is this for real?

    This is why San Jose is such a mess.  We need to replace the whole Police Farce.

  2. Great article by Ms. Bowman.  The SJPD has been very clear that they don’t feel they are perfect and they are more than willing to make changes to the department.  People don’t seem to look at this case start to finish.  Ho is a person who would escalate a simple argument over a spill in the kitchen, to a deadly situation threatening his roommates with a knife.  A crime by the way.  Roommates call police, who come to investigate and ultimately arrest Ho.  Ho clearly does not comply with officers directions.  Ho may not like or fully understand why the officers make the demands they do.  So now what should an officer do when a guy who grabbed a knife over spilled milk is now physically resisting them.  Allow him to go unescorted to get his glasses and then have him come back again with a knife or worse.  Ms. Bowman has a point,  Ho like many others must comply with officers.  There is no excuse that allows you to fight an officers efforts.  If you don’t agree with the officers method there are many ways to complain about that later.  Im not impressed with the script Ho has been reading to the press prepared by his lawyers who are looking for a paycheck from the city.  I, like everyone want the police to use the appropriate amount of force for the situation.  We will see if that was so in this case in the near future.  I am curious if Ho still has any roommates.  I certainly would not want a household spill to possibly cost me my life by an unstable math student.

  3. When any authority figure misbehaves it is essential that they be held accountable. If not, the authority figure and the institution they represent lose legitimacy in the eyes of society. They don’t get respect unless they earn it by consistently acting honorably.

    If the U.S. can impeach a president for adultery, surely a cop can be disciplined for excessive force or falsifying a report or racially profiling.

  4. The responsible exercise of authority is a skill that is learned over time with experience. By granting the police that authority, we grant them the opportunity to develop that skill. 

    Just imagine if downtownster’s ideas were carried into the classroom. In that world, the teacher can’t accomplish anything until he earns the respect of each and every child. If he fails to do so with just one kid, then evidently he deserves the consequence of a disrupted class in which nothing positive is accomplished.
    No. It is that child’s responsibility to give that teacher respect because he is the teacher. Period.

    It is our duty to give the cop respect because he is the cop. Period.

    • John Galt you are spot on; we should turn a blind eye to any forms of abuse by the police and government! Because they are so experienced!

      Just like in Nazi Germany when the police and military were granted authority and had the experience; They made the wise decisions to cart off over 12 million persons to thier deaths and started a war that cost the world about 60 million more. 

      You are so Right!

  5. John Galt,

    “It is our duty to give the cop respect because he is the cop. Period.”

    That clears some things up. And you fancy yourself a Libertarian. Ayn Rand would vomit if she were somehow to read your post.

    For those who believe in human freedom, holding authority figures accountable is a foundational principle.

    • There are varying degrees of everything- including libertarianism. I don’t consider myself an absolutist and I form my own ideas. I happen to think that there are some roles to which government is best suited. A public police force is among them.
      I think even Ayn Rand would agree that if we make the decision to have a police force, weather it be publicly or privately operated, we must give it the authority to do it’s job effectively. If we aren’t going to agree to do that then we must suffer the result of a police force that behaves accordingly.
      As ye sow, so shall ye reap, downtownster.

  6. Downtownster something you might try,
    “The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.”

    Benjamin Franklin quote

    • Ben Franklin did not himself forgive the excesses of authority.  When the cops went overboard, he helped start a revolution.

      I don’t think a revolution is appropriate now, but Ben’s the wrong man to quote.  His temperate stance was aimed at broadening his revolution, not ending it.

  7. I think its hard to have a real debate about SJPD tactics with those who have not been profiled and negatively stereotyped by police.It seems as if there is a segment of the population who will always seek to rationalize any abuse of power by the police because A) They are not the ones being abused and B) they subscribe to the same set of prejudices that the police do.

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