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Police and Law Enforcement Home    >    Editorials    >    Heroic Officers, Refreshing Bosses, and a Slanted Press


Police and
Law Enforcement News




Heroic Officers, Refreshing
Bosses and A Slanted Press
Police and Law Enforcement News
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
  4:26 p.m.


A video of an arrest made by Clifton police officers was posted on YouTube last week and has been the subject of several provocative newspaper headlines.

The incident took place last Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. about a half mile away from Clifton High School.  Clifton officers came upon a fight between two female high school students.  As officers attempted to secure the combatants, the boyfriend of one of the girls approached and began interfering with the arrest.  He was pushed away by one of the officers and ordered to move away.  He ignored the command and immediately came back at the officer. 

At this point the officer slapped the boyfriend once in the head with an open hand and attempted to take him to the ground.  The boyfriend resisted and the struggle fell out in to traffic.  He was ultimately secured.

Within hours, a video of the incident appeared on Youtube. 

Before we continue, watch the video below:


As we began preparing this editorial and researching this case from all sides, it became evident that there were multiple avenues to take. 

First, and without question, there was no unlawful use of force.  This was a chaotic scene, and officers were surrounded by a crowd some of which were hostile.  The suspect was physically and forcibly interfering with an arrest.  An officer tried repelling him with mere physical force by pushing him away, but he came back at the officer.

The Clifton Police Department was correct in explaining that the officer would have been justified to go even further and escalate to pepper spray or even a baton strike. 

It's simple: when the police are on scene, stay out of it.

Second, bravo to the Clifton Police Department.  They examined the video and preliminarily cleared the officer.  They didn't need six months to watch and re-watch the video.  They didn't come out and explain how the situation is "complicated."  And they didn't tie their officer's fate to the community's reaction to the video.

Their officer was in the right, and they cleared him.  So refreshing.

Finally, shame on you Star Ledger.  Their headline:

Clifton Police Defend Officer Shown in Video
Throwing Punch at Teenage Boy in School Fight

What an irresponsible and inflammatory headline.  We ( are more careful in choosing headlines with this little site than they are with a major metropolitan newspaper.  Or maybe they were careful, and that's the problem.

They included not one but three phrases to slant the headline against the police: punch, teenage boy, and school fight.   

There was no punch.  The officer slapped the suspect with an open hand on the side of the head.  This is not semantics.  A punch is a strike with a closed fist.  Use slap, strike, even hit, but it wasn't a punch.

"Teenage boy?"  He was bigger than most in the crowd including the officer.  In a scene such as this officers will use an opponent's size, overall presence, and level of force being used against them as a barometer in choosing what force with which to respond.  We don't ask for birth dates.

Then, they refer to this as a school fight, a term that conjures up an image of two kids squaring off in a playground.  Much to the contrary, this was a volatile situation where officers attempting to break up one violent altercation had to deal with multiple other threats from a crowd that had them outnumbered.   It was more of a street melee than some minor schoolyard fight. 

This kind of reporting is very harmful to the police mission.  The reader is swayed before even beginning the story.  The headline plays up the actions of the officer while playing down the circumstance of the incident.

And people wonder why we don't trust the media.

Videos such as this one are not pretty.  Videos never are when they depict a uniformed police officer using force.  They are violent and sometimes uncomfortable to watch. 

But that doesn't make the force improper.

There is a segment of society that believes we should wait until we have been punched in the face before responding.  They believe every situation can be quelled with a hug or a cookie, and we constantly overreact by resorting to physical force.  Some actually believe we should not have guns.

Fortunately, they are the minority.

When officers arrive on a scene like this they are charged with restoring order.  Scenes like these must be addressed immediately and decisively.  Failure to do so would allow the situation to deteriorate resulting in further injury and property damage.

These officers did an excellent job under difficult circumstances.  Kudos to all of them.

Use the box below to share your opinion.




Share your Thoughts on This Editorial

While all opinions will be considered, we will not post any messages that are inflammatory, that bash any ethnic group, or that are just beyond reason.  Letters will be reviewed and posted each day. reserves the right to alter, shorten, or decline any submission. 



Your Comments

Way to go,  Clifton PD!  You shut down a situation that could very easily have gotten out of hand.  Maybe someone should sit down with the 15 year old boy and advise him that you NEVER,  EVER lay hands on the police.  If you do,  bad things will happen TO YOU.  Keep up the great work,  Clifton PD.

Excellent article. Shame on the Star Ledger... typical liberal media always doing their best to cast officers in the worst light possible.

Well said! and great job Clifton PD.

I'd like to congratulate the officers, also, in controlling a volatile situation! This situation could have easily escalated into a much larger altercation, had the police not gained control and then the Star-Ledger would have had the cops to blame for NOT taking control!

Its just another reason why the general public; minus a few knuckle-heads like the media, overwhelmingly support the police and DISS all forms of media!

Nice job Clifton Police. I think what this really shows is that New Jersey should allow tasers. A taser would have ended this incident a whole lot quicker.

The Clifton police did a great job  They did what they are trained to do to restore calm to a difficult situation.  Newspapers tend to over kill a situation to sell papers.....believe me I know....I was a school board  elected official for 13 years.....I had my share of situations such as this...

Good job guys!

In this video the officers did what had to be done to get situation under control and protect himself.

I like the way the Officer kept his emotions... and his sunglasses in place... very cool.

One way to avoid such difference of opinion, of a similar incident, if it were ever to happen again, is simple- When the Police say stay away, do it.

There was a time in society where the boy's father would have taken him by the ear, after taking him out back to slap some respect into him, down to the pd to apologize to the officer.

Then tell him now that's what men do. They realize when there wrong.

Great to finally see a department back their officers in such circumstances, the state and other departments should look to Clifton as an example.

Outstanding job breaking down a story that from the get go was against the Clifton police officers. Thank you for putting a different point of view out there to show how "careful" a major newspaper can be.

Continue to all stay safe!

What's funny is law enforcement MUST tip toe around suspects act like baby sitters and the suspect can just walk up and shoot them and get a few years with a roof over there head food and water plus education. 

Hmm. what went wrong here???

Excellent job in this writing.  Thank you!!!!

Nice to see a department immediately support it's officers. What's worse liberal Media slant or Government controlled media?

These same ones that complain about the police are your pathetic neighborhood watch people. People in this state are so nosy that they aren't nearly remotely involved in the incident and yet they get themselves in the middle and have a brain fart when they were told repeatedly to get out of the way but then say bad cop bad cop when they get thrown to the ground because their too stupid to listen.

Sounds like the jersey shore crowd I had to deal with as a special 2.


Excellent editorial, Officers are constantly put in stressful situations and all I saw was an Officer doing his job.  Kudos to the Officers!

Great Job...Cant let the knuckleheads dictate.

I think they did a great job the officers followed the levels of force. They did what was needed to be done at that time, the suspect was interfering with an arrest he had it coming that's all I got to say.

Clifton Police did a great job handling this situation.  Children today need to learn respect for authority.  When a police officer tells you to stop and move away, you stop and move away...Period.  When I was a teenager if my parents found out I disrespected a police officer or any adult for that matter, I would have had the stuffing beat out of me by them.

Very well said !!!

Well said.  Another excellent job by Clifton PD both on scene and in their review of the incident.


Finally! Great story and fantastic job by CPD!

Taser, taser, taser.

Shame on Star Ledger is right! If a police officer says "stay back" you stay back.

Good Job.... That's how a police department should back its officers! -VA

Job well done. They could have actually arrested two more people from what I observed in the video. The lady in the black jacket obstructed by physically touching the officer. They had probable cause to arrest her. The teenage boy at the end was also disorderly. Good job Clifton P.D.

Excellent editorial and much respect to Clifton Pd for how they handled it.

Excellent, intelligent, and unbiased review of this video. The Star Ledger needs to sell newspapers, hence their need for twisting the truth into dramatics.

I believe the media should be held responsible for slanderous headlines and commentary used to describe the situation.  The media also should be held accountable for any repercussions that arise for misinforming the public.

If anything the officer should be commended for using the appropriate force in this situation and not leveling the offender with a true punch.

Glad to see the officers handled the situation as well as they did and no one was truly hurt. 

Bravo! What a grand editorial. Unfortunately, the object of your ire and my scorn, the Star Ledger Editorial Board should have their pompous purple crayons taken away until they learn objectivity and balance!

All I saw was a police officer doing his job. Great job Clifton police!

Good Job

Looked like a tense call.  Calls like that can go very bad very quick.  Good job.


The Clifton Police Department has been and continues to be one of the finest Law Enforcement organizations in NJ. Kudos to the Chief and his men.





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