Don’t Break Your Arm Patting Yourself On The Back. Or, Really, Maybe You Should.



If you’re going to kill a guy so you can start the second movie on time, shouldn’t the “triple crown” standards dictate you at least dignify the man by explaining the damage to his larynx?

A funny thing happened yesterday morning.  As typical, I was laying in bed putting off the start to the day by skimming the early headlines.  An article about the McHenry County Sheriff’s Police caught my eye.  Looks like they were bragging about gaining “Triple Crown Accreditation:”

No horses, but McHenry Sheriff nets triple crown award

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Department recently won a “Triple Crown,” but it has nothing to do with horse racing.

The “Triple Crowd Award” is a distinction held by less than 1 percent of sheriff offices across the country. It is the National Sheriffs’ Association’s term for attaining accreditation through three key groups: the Commission on the Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA; the Commission on Accreditation for Corrections, or CAC; and the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare, or NCCHA….

I’ve seen the CALEA signs around the courthouse, so I knew something was going on. I wasn’t quite sure what this meant, though. Are they more accurate in their arrests?  Do they arrest less guilty people? Are their investigations more accurate or trustworthy than others?

By yesterday afternoon, another story had appeared in the Northwest Herald.  This one had more details. Not important details, mind you, but details given to the NW Herald though and interview who is currently running for Sheriff.  He explained exactly what the triple crown meant:

“This assures [the community] that the Sheriff’s Office is one of the best the United States,” Zinke said. “It’s like sending your kid to college, we’re in the ivy league.”

Yeah.  Just like the ivy league. Except it’s not.

You know how I know?  Not because I looked into it and it appears that most of this accreditation stuff has to do with policy and management and procedure.  No, no no. That’s not it.

What’s that you say?  It’s not like the ivy league because the Chicago Police Department is on the list and they are not, in any regard, ivy league in anything?  I wasn’t even going to go there.

Where I was going to go was that the Frederick County, Maryland Sheriff’s Department is on there.  Are you familiar with them? You’re not?  Well, allow me to refresh your memory:

A shade over 6 months ago, a fellow named Robert Ethan Saylor went to watch Zero Dark Thirty at a movie theater in Frederick County, Maryland.  Mr. Saylor had Downs Syndrome.  I hate to generalize like this, but anybody familiar with Downs Syndrome would have known this was likely at first glance.

Rest in Peace, Robert.

He attended the movie with his caretaker.  I won’t regale you with the entire story, it’s still popping up all over the internet, but Mr. Saylor did not want to leave when the second showing of the movie came on. He clearly threw a bit of a fit- and he was a large man.  Despite the caretaker’s request that Mr. Saylor not be touched and be allowed to calm himself, he was forcibly removed from the movie theater by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Police.  And, by “forcibly removed” I mean they “handcuffed the flailing, 294-pound man as he screamed, cursed and cried for his mother.”

During the course of this, Mr. Saylor was killed.  In determining the cause of death,  the “state medical examiner’s office found signs of “positional” asphyxia, or having been in a position in which he couldn’t breathe. There was also unexplained damage to Saylor’s larynx.”

If his death wasn’t so upsetting, the quote from the medical examiner would make me laugh.  Hundreds of police reports generated.  Dozens of witness to various parts of the police action.  Numerous officers accredited by the “Ivy League” of police accreditation.  Nobody can explain the damage to this kid’s windpipe? How does that even happen? Did everybody sneeze at the exact same time?

What are the triple crown standards on that?  What’s CALEA have to say about that?  If you’re going to kill a guy so you can start the second movie on time, shouldn’t the “triple crown” standards dictate you at least dignify the man by explaining the damage to his larynx?

I guess the ivy league of police accreditation doesn’t care.

I’ve talked about what I like to call the “meatball police mentality” before- the idea in certain law enforcement communities that it’s “us” against “them” and that they’re all just out there doing what is “necessary” to keep “us” safe from the evil lurking in each and every corner.

I see this stuff, though, and feel so bad for all the great people who have become cops. I feel bad for the departments, many of the small ones, who are responsive to their community and work as hard to help out in the community as they do to “keep us safe from ourselves.”  There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of cops out there who aren’t on “Triple Crown” departments but who could have done a better job acting like a normal human and taking care of Mr. Saylor.  The CALEA-accredited thugs who either damaged his larynx or weren’t properly trained on how to remove somebody of his physical capacity from a movie theater get to brag about being “ivy league.”

Maybe I have a chip on my shoulder because the MCSP is “ivy league” and I’m just a dumb guy with a public university Philosophy degree from a MAC school.  Maybe that’s it. Or maybe I prefer substance over style.

Either way, I know that Mr. Saylor didn’t have to die, and that’s all I need to know about this “triple crown” nonsense.

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