Why the cops need a watchdog

There's been a lot of debate here about the way that journalists cover alleged bad apples among the police, inspired largely by the Daily News' controversial (and in my opinion courageous) series called "Tainted Justice." In recent years, the DN's also been criticized for pushing hard on the issue of police brutality, so I wanted to highlight this interesting take on the topic, which concludes:

Forty-three years ago I was an idealistic, vaguely liberal 21-year-old when the San Diego Police Department hired me. The last thing on my mind was taking to the streets to punish people. And lest there be any doubt about the department's policy, the police academy, even then, drove it home: excessive force was grounds for termination.

So, why did I abuse the very people I'd been hired to serve?

Not to get too psychological, I did it because the power of my position went straight to my head; because other cops I'd come to admire did it; and because I thought I could get away with it. Which I did--until a principled prosecutor slapped me upside the head and demanded to know whether the U.S. Constitution meant anything to me.

It comes down to this: real cops, those with a conscience, those who honor the law, must step up and take control of the cop culture.

The author, a man named Norm Stamper, is the retired chief of police in Seattle.