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Richardson: It’s not a race thing; when police tell you to ‘stop,’ stop!

Bill Richardson

Does anyone actually believe that Jason Barton, the 35-year-old man with a lengthy arrest record who was arrested by Mesa police for resisting arrest, assault, possession of narcotics and jaywalking last week doesn’t know what the word “stop” means?

Barton was stopped by police after a series of fatalities involving jaywalkers and stepped-up enforcement efforts by the Mesa Police Department. Since the stepped-up enforcement and education efforts began, 96 people have been stopped and warned. Four of whom were black. Eighteen citations have been issued and two of those cited were black. The overwhelming majority of warnings and citations issued went to whites and hispanics.

You would think that most people know what the word “stop” means. They may not like the term and they may very well ignore the warning that comes with “stop,” but they do know what it means.

The word “stop” has a special meaning when a police officer says it. Not stopping when an officer tells you too can lead to you being injured, arrested or even killed.

Police have the power to tell you to “stop!”

So, when the police tell you to “stop,” stop! It’s that simple. I guess it was too simple for Barton to understand, or was it?

To hear the usual chorus of “The police are picking on black people” seems like Mesa police were targeting Barton because of the color of his skin. I heard that same broken record right out of the academy 40-plus years ago. If I had a dollar for every time I was told, “You’re only picking on me because I’m black!” I could have retired to a house on the beach.

Considering the majority of people in my police beats for six years were non-white and poor, it was just another attempt to try and deflect responsibility by playing the race card with a weak police administrator, a sob sister at City Hall, or the media.

In Barton’s case, it’s between some in the media telling half the story and gadfly and convicted felon Jared Maupin beating the drums and fanning the flames to get publicity, trying to shift responsibility and accountability from Barton to the two police officers doing their job.

We’ve seen this same story again and again. It’s like watching all-night reruns on cable TV. Last year, Maupin and his posse went after the Tempe Police Department when one of its officers was forced to shoot an armed robber with a lengthy criminal history who refused to obey commands. He was shot and killed as he attempted to enter a retirement home and potentially take hostages as he fled from the scene of the crime and police.

Maupin has a history of spending his time grubbing for publicity and exploiting those who have suffered.

Barton and Maupin basked in the limelight of TV cameras after the arrest during a “peaceful protest” that shutdown Main Street and tied up a couple dozen police officers to insure they weren’t run over while “jaywalking.”

Meanwhile on one of Mesa’s busiest streets drivers were using to get around Maupin’s parade, Elijah Turnbo, a 22-year-old black man, was killed while jaywalking. It was just down the street from Maupin’s latest publicity stunt.

I wonder if the already understaffed Mesa PD had had its officers on patrol covering their beats and not babysitting Maupin if Turnbo would still be alive?

Barton needs to thank the Mesa Police Department for maybe saving his life.

– Bill Richardson is a retired Mesa police detective.

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