Aside from aggressive enforcement, one of the best ways for law enforcement agencies to show a strong presence in the community is through consistent messaging. Practically speaking, this means that all criminal suspects should be treated equally, regardless of celebrity status.
If this is among the goals of law enforcement, some Maryland State Troopers failed miserably and sent confusing mixed messages at the same time. After they arrested a Grammy-nominated rapper for alleged drug possession, two troopers asked the artist to pose for a picture with them.
According to a recent news article, state troopers pulled over Tauheed Epps (who performs under the name "2 Chainz") for speeding. He and his entourage were traveling to a performance at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and were allegedly driving 79 mph in a 55-mph zone.
During the traffic stop, an officer smelled marijuana and conducted a probable-cause search. A grinder and trace amounts of marijuana were allegedly discovered in a backpack which Epps said he owned. According to Epps, a member of his entourage claimed ownership of the items, but officer arrested him anyway.
At this point, there is nothing out of the ordinary about this story. However, upon his release, Epps tweeted that two troopers "Locked me up then wanted pictures." He even shared the picture online, which shows him standing between two smiling officers.
It is unclear if this behavior officially constitutes police misconduct, and a state police spokesman said that when it comes to troopers taking pictures with arrestees, there is "no specific policy, per se." However, he added, "we're looking at it administratively to see if anything should be pursued."
Even if there is no policy prohibiting it, does such behavior send a mixed message? Should it be allowed? What do readers think?
Source: Baltimore Sun, "Rapper 2 Chainz arrested on Eastern Shore, takes photo with troopers," Justin Fenton, Feb. 15, 2013