It would seem that most people on the planet have seen the viral video of Alex Wubbels, the nurse at the University of Utah Medical Center, being arrested by police officer Jeff Payne because she insisted on following state and federal law, along with hospital protocol, regarding Payne’s demand that he be permitted to draw blood from a car accident victim. Not surprisingly, most viewers have reacted with outrage and after the incident became public, the Salt Lake City Police Department placed both Payne and his lieutenant, James Tracy (who ordered the arrest), on paid leave.
Pretty much everyone agrees on this one point: Payne and his boss at the very least violated department policy and probably broke the law. Whether or not they are punished is another matter.
In releasing the video during a press conference last week, Wubbels said that while she was grateful for the overwhelming support she received and for the apologies given her by the Salt Lake police chief and the city’s mayor, she called for “more training” for police officers to keep them from violating the law. Would be that Payne and his lieutenant engaged in this outrageous behavior simply because they had lacked proper “training.”
We have been down this road many times. The idea that government is supposed to protect our “inalienable rights” (in the words of Thomas Jefferson’s eloquent Declaration of Independence) is woven into our mystical political fabric, but instead of protection, governments hand out abuse, lots of abuse. While the vilification that Payne and his police allies presently are receiving is well-deserved, the real problem is not people like Payne, nor will firing him – as much as his superiors need to do it – will solve any fundamental problems with government agents abusing everyone else.