Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jackson case awakens old fears

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Mecklenburg Public Defender Kevin Tully is right about Charlotte police officer Marcus Jackson: he is innocent until proven guilty. Tully is rightly concerned that public officials have been quoted in the media saying Jackson is definitely guilty of sexually assaulting women on three different occasions after pulling them over for traffic stops.

With that said, however, it’s pretty understandable why people are up in arms over the Jackson case. If – again, if – Jackson is guilty of the charges against him, then he's the latest incarnation of one of the worst things that can happen to ordinary people: a twisted creep taking advantage of his role as a representative of the state to harass or hurt them.

For anyone who’s been in Charlotte a decade or more, the charges against Jackson – pulling over women and sexually assaulting them – automatically bring back memories of Monroe Public Safety Officer Josh Griffin. The 1997 Griffin case – in which the of was found guilty of stopping Men’s Club hostess Kim Medlin at night near Monroe and strangling her to death when she resisted him – mesmerized the region and caused deep psychic scars.

No one is accusing Marcus Jackson of anything that heinous – although that’s no consolation to the three women he is accused of assaulting – but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing that someone who’s entrusted to enforce the law can become a predator. It’s particularly repulsive that the perpetrator picked women who were already in powerless positions – two are Latina women, one of whose boyfriend was undocumented and faces deportation – before lording his own official power over them illegally.

It’s no big secret that some warped individuals are attracted to law enforcement jobs for all the wrong reasons. We’ll be keeping track of how Police Chief Monroe and his crew tighten their background check procedures for new officers, as well as their efforts to repair relations with the Latino community, already strained even before the Jackson case arose.

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