Columnist: McKinney, Texas — can we all just get along?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 11, 2015

Here we go again.

Another police officer videotaped, appearing to violate his oath of office, which is to “protect and serve.” The officer has resigned, probably fearing termination that would result in his losing his certification in law enforcement.

Being terminated would prevent the possibility of his securing future employment as an officer. What will happen, however, is that he will probably secure employment in another smaller or similar sized police department.

It is said that his decision to resign his office was due in part to viewing the video that captured his actions as he responded to a 911 call in McKinney, Texas, an affluent suburb of Dallas where teens had gathered for a kind of end-of-school-year pool party. It is agreed that things did get out of control at the pool party, leading up to what some of the celebrants say was a potential for fighting that did require police intervention.

The residents accused the teens of trespassing at the pool, and allegedly resorted to calling the teens inappropriate names. No one should apologize for the teens’ behavior. They did get out of control. But if we could put “race” aside for a moment, do we really expect teens to behave responsibly at a party?

Your answer is probably “yes.” But do they? The answer is most often “no.” There are many popular movies, in fact, which chronicle teens and college students partying where things get out of control.

There are certain things you can count on when teens are not properly supervised. Minor-age drinking of alcohol and using drugs that all too often become the precipitating factor that leads to fighting and disruptive behavior.

Each year, especially during the summer, we witness from the comfort of our home the media reporting how communities, small and large, are being plagued by teens partying, which gets out of hand. Parents assume that the party they are allowing their teenage kids to host in their home will be attended by only a small number of teens, but become surprised as things with teens can grow exponentially out of control as more kids show up than was anticipated.

Many of these teen parties are not authorized by parents and result in considerable property damage and trouble for the police in handling unruly teens.

You know what?

Because of where these parties are often held, and too often because of their race, the teens are rarely called thugs, mob members, gangsters, or in in the case of the female assaulted by officer David Eric Casebolt, the “bikini-clad black female.”

The child was in a swimsuit. The description of what the young female was wearing, some say, was immaterial and just an attempt to diminish her credibility. All of the young white and black females at the party had on swimsuits.

McKinney, before being known by the actions of officer David Eric Casebolt, is indeed a very interesting place. Situated north of Dallas, it has been rated as one of the fastest growing cities in America and in fact, one major publication reported that it is one of the best places to live in this country.

The affluent city also boasts having a top rated school system. The median family income is reported to be in excess of $96,000. It is a place where even the Motel 6 is not a bad place to rent a room for a few nights stay, even after recently receiving a rating of 5.0 out of a 10-point scale that is used to rate the quality of hotel/motel accommodations in the area.

What actually caused the trouble in McKinney?

The pool party was given by a teenager who did live in the area. As more teens arrived, tensions began to boil over with residents who lived in the area.

It was reported that some of the white adult residents began shouting to the teens that they should leave the area and return to their Section 8 Housing community. These comments, if true, were probably in reference to the fact that McKinney has been the target of a lawsuit accusing it of racial segregation in public housing.

For the record, 75 percent of McKinney residents are white, while only 11 percent of its residents are black. The 2008 lawsuit indicated that the McKinney Housing Authority intentional restricted federally subsidized housing for low-income families to older neighborhoods.

The intent, it appeared, was to steer the recipients as far away from McKinney as possible. The lawsuit was eventually settled in 2012 with a consent decree, where specific actions were required of the housing authority without having to admit guilt.

From the moment that the teens felt that they were insulted, as well as the residents believing that the teens should not be at the pool, it was wise for level-headed adults to have called the police.

The first police officer to literally “run” to the scene was Casebolt, a 10-year veteran of the McKinney Police Department. Upon his arrival, the already powder keg pool environment was exacerbated by his actions.

In running towards the teens he accidentally fell to the ground, became irate and blamed the teens. From this point, things got progressively worse.

The nation witnessed a police officer using profanity at the teens, throwing one teen to the ground and drawing his weapon on others. Even if the teens had been majority white, his actions were unconscionable.

This was a deranged man who just happened to have mistakenly been given a badge. In retrospect, some in the community are saying that officer Casebolt should have actually been drug tested after the incident at the pool.

His supporters are quick to say that he was doing his job and commend him for his actions that day in McKinney. I have many friends, however, who happen to be white. One intimated to me that had it been his daughter that Casebolt slammed to the ground in his fit of rage, he would honestly have to repress the urge to get even with the officer.

Ironically, in spite of his actions that day, Casebolt had previously been given an Officer of the Year commendation with the McKinney police department. The same officer was also accused of using excessive force along with other officers in 2007 when he was alleged to have slammed the head of a person he was arresting against a car hood. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed in 2009.

His recent actions at the pool party, however cannot be dismissed. After being placed on administrative leave by the police department, he resigned.

McKinney Police Chief Greg Conley later said in a press conference that Casebolt was not forced to resign, but admitted that his actions in responding to the pool party were “indefensible.”

“He came into the call out of control and the video showed he was out of control during the incident,” Conley stated. He went on to say that 12 officers responded to the disturbance. “Eleven of them performed according to their training,” the number did not include officer David Eric Casebolt.

The police chief has been very proactive during this potential crisis for McKinney, Texas. He is to be commended for being honest in the face of those who do not agree with his public announcement of Casebolt’s aberrant behavior.

The verdict is still out on the chief’s actions, but he is to be commended for acknowledging what went wrong on the day that officer David Eric Casebolt’s actions on a 911 call to a disturbance resulted in McKinney, Texas, now being known in the country for something else other than a great place to live.