Florida Cops Need Refresher Course

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It boils down to incompetent police work, and we can’t blame race for this one. (Although I did have one student – white – who wrote a paper saying that if Casey Anthony were black, she’d be on Florida’s death row right now, not walking the streets.) Apparently, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office isn’t any more competent than the police department in Sanford, Fla., or the Jacksonville Police Department.

Cops in Sanford never tested George Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, for drugs or alcohol in his system.

Nor did those Keystone-Kop-wannabes bother to check Martin’s cell phone, get numbers from it to contact friends or relatives, or to see if he had made any calls prior to his encounter with Zimmerman.

Such things might be covered in a Police Work 101 course, but when it comes to law enforcement, cops in Sanford are still at the elementary school stage.

Twelve years ago Brenton Butler was only 15 years old when cops stopped him as he walked down a Jacksonville street. It was a Sunday morning.

A short time before Butler was stopped, a white couple was robbed at gunpoint. The bandit fatally shot the wife of a tourist, who gave police a description of the suspect: a black male.

Cops took one look at Butler walking down the street and said, “Hey, there’s a black male there.” So it was Butler that was arrested and charged with felony murder and robbery.

Through the diligence of two dedicated public defenders, Butler was eventually acquitted. And it was those public defenders, not Jacksonville police, who did the investigation that led to the real killer of the tourist.

If you’ve seen the documentary “Murder On A Sunday Morning,” which gives the details of Brenton Butler’s arrest and trial, you get to see that killer at the end of the film.

He and Butler were indeed both black males. And that’s about all they had in common.

There were major differences in the height, weight, hair (style, length and texture), age and skin complexion of the two, enough so that Jacksonville homicide detectives should never have made the boo boo of arresting and charging Butler.

But, as we have learned, making egregious boo boos isn’t exactly the exception for Florida law enforcement officers, is it?

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