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Letter to Editor: Unchecked Use of Force by Police Must End

Ocean City resident Steven Fenichel argues for oversight of police K-9 patrols.

Letter to Editor: Unchecked Use of Force by Police Must End

Dear Editor,

The paramilitary mentality of community police departments is taking on epidemic proportions. Tasers, dogs, drones and now the latest on the police wish list:  http://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/why-hottest-police-car-bomb-proof-military-suv-184502872.html

The military concept is “destroy the enemy.” The police concept: “serve and protect.” Which is winning?

A recent article told of a 20-year-old young man being severely beaten by Atlantic City cops. The not so “grand finale” was the arrival of K-9 Officer Sterling Wheaton and his partner. The victim was lying face down with his hands cuffed behind his back. (Officer Wheaton has at least three prior allegations of excessive force and civil rights violations.) Wheaton turned his dog loose. The Atlantic City chief after seeing the video at link below saw no problems. Maybe he should be on visual disability:    http://m.pressofatlanticcity.com/communities/northfield_linwood_somers-point/family-to-sue-atlantic-...

As a postscript, the victim required more than 200 sutures to close his wounds, and now has alleged permanent injuries, including nerve damage and muscle paralysis where the dog bit into his neck. The parallels to police conduct in Ocean City cannot be ignored.

A young man in Ocean City is bitten in the groin requiring surgery to reconnect his penis. The victim is charged with assaulting the K-9. The police in both Atlantic City and Ocean City conduct an internal investigation and the public is reassured that the police did nothing wrong. Chiefs Chad Callahan (Ocean City) and Ernest Jubilee (Atlantic City) embrace the conclusions and see no reason to suspend or remove the involved officers. 

Another Ocean City victim of alleged police abuse is Mr. Robert Petnick. This man was allegedly beaten up by five Ocean City officers with Officer Deuce doing the violence with his teeth on a victim who also had his hands cuffed behind his back. He too alleges permanent injuries, including nerve damage and muscle paralysis where the dog bit.

Mayors Jay Gillian (Ocean City) and Lorenzo Langford (Atlantic City) just want to get along by going along, so forget about any civilian oversight or even a concern with public safety.

Good officers are discredited by the bad, and find it easier to get along by going along. Instead of being role models and the gold standard of behavior in our communities, we are seeing a gangland mentality. Officers of conscience are considered snitches and traitors if they stand up for justice. This has to stop, or civil society will be shattered. I fear for my country, and I fear for myself.

Steven Fenichel, MD
Ocean City

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