…or at the very least, upset a few people. But I think it needs to be posted anyway.
a headline from CBS3, one of the local news stations:
7 NJ Troopers Accused In Alleged Gang Rape
That’s right, kids. Gang Rape by our state’s finest.
As most of you regular readers will know by now, I have conflicted feelings about the police. I never felt uneasy around them. I respected them and was grateful for their willingness to take on a stressful, dangerous job to protect the rest of us who were too selfish and too afraid to do it. I believed that police officers were inherently good people, for the most part – until I started learning about the violent history of police forces all over the country and the world.
Despite what I’ve learned in the past few years about this violent history, I always had a soft spot in my heart for State Troopers, especially in New Jersey. I love my home state, and take fierce pride in being from South Jersey. When I travel out of state, I only feel like I’ve truly made it home after spotting a white troop car with the yellow-and-blue logo emblazoned on the side:
But this report left a serious bruise on my heart – seven of the men I grew up believing had to be better than everyone else are now accused of doing something that I believe is worse than most things.
Is there any guarantee that these seven men took part in a gang rape? No. Only the seven men and one woman will ever know for sure. But I think you’d have to be really, really nuts to try to take on an organization like the State Police without some hardcore evidence. It doesn’t strike me that a 25-year-old student from an upper-middle-class university would make these accusations lightly. The 86-year-old organization has a power behind it that no single person could defeat on false allegations. So, I’m more than a little inclined to believe her.
If you read the details of the story, you’ll see that this young woman met some off-duty troopers at a club near Ewing Township, where the rape took place. She apparently accompanied the men back to a home in Ewing Township. You might ask why, in this day and age, a woman would leave a club and go to a home with a group of men she’d just met. You might even be tempted to offer the line of thinking that she wouldn’t have been raped if she’d just behaved with a little common sense.
But let me tell you something: five years ago, had I been single and into the club scene, I might have done the same thing. Raised with the belief that state troopers are people with high integrity and strong moral values, I would have felt safe leaving the club with them. I would have felt they, at least, would know the lines that no one person should ever cross. I would never have imagined they were capable of something so vile as a gang rape. I would have thought that the psychiatric evaluations, at least, would have ruled out the folks with those tendencies from becoming troopers.
So now I find myself looking at the mission statement of the state police:
HONOR – Always act with the utmost integrity, and be honest and truthful. Enforce the laws equally and without bias. Hold yourself and other members to the highest ethical standards.
DUTY – To protect and serve the public, prevent crime and apprehend offenders. Ensure the highest quality service to the public. Perform our duties honorably and accept the responsibility to carry them out. Our devotion to duty will never waiver.
FIDELITY – Faithfully uphold the traditions of the New Jersey State Police. Strive to embody the principles under which we were founded. Maintain pride in yourself and the organization. Ensure that the code of HONOR, DUTY AND FIDELITY are your core values.
Everything about those three core values would indicate to me that RAPE IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR. Rapists are not overflowing with integrity. Rape is a crime, rapists are offenders. Raping a woman is not protecting her.
Faithfully uphold the traditions of the New Jersey State Police. Someone snarkier than myself might quip that this is the only portion of the mission statement being revered by these seven troopers, as police have long been reported to sexually assault, for example, stone butch women who were arrested for cross-dressing. But I won’t make that comment.