Citizens to protest decision to keep Hickman resource officer

Saturday, November 8, 2008 | 4:12 p.m. CST; updated 11:14 a.m. CST, Monday, November 17, 2008

COLUMBIA – Parents and concerned citizens are organizing a protest of the Columbia Police Department’s decision not to remove resource officer Mark Brotemarkle from his post at Hickman High School.

The demonstration will take place at noon Monday at the department’s headquarters at 600 E. Walnut St.

Gene Robertson, a retired MU professor who is helping to organize the protest, said the demonstration is intended to show the community’s “outrage at the behavior of the police administration.”

Brotemarkle temporarily left his position on Oct. 17 after a video was released that showed him breaking up a fight at the school on Oct. 15. His supervisors returned Brotemarkle to his post the following Monday, Oct. 20, according to Missourian archives.

The video showed Brotemarkle throwing Hickman student Diamond Thrower, a sophomore, to the ground and handcuffing her. Thrower had been attempting to break up a fight between two girls, but she was not personally involved. Thrower was taken to the hospital later that night for neck and back problems and did not return to school for the rest of the week.

The Police Department’s Professional Standards Unit is investigating whether Brotemarkle used excessive force when breaking up the fight.

Robertson said he thinks the police erred in allowing Brotemarkle to return to his position at Hickman before concluding its investigation.

“He should have been removed until such time that the inquiry has judged him to be innocent,” Robertson said. He said if the investigation determines that Brotemarkle was at fault, then his presence at Hickman during the investigation will not have been in the best interest of the students.

“If they prove he did wrong, then they have done wrong,” Robertson said.

According to the Columbia Police Department Standard Operational Guidelines, internal investigations are to be completed within 35 days of the complaint, unless the Professional Standards Unit commander or the police chief grants a time extension.

On Friday, Interim Police Chief Tom Dresner said he still expected the investigation to take one month.

The guidelines also state that putting an officer on paid administrative leave during an internal investigation is an option of the police chief, to be used when appropriate during criminal or serious misconduct cases. Administrative leave is only mandatory if the employee was “intoxicated while on-duty or is otherwise unfit for duty.”

“It’s kind of a case-by-case basis,” Dresner said.

Dresner said he did not know about plans to hold a demonstration in front of the police headquarters until Friday afternoon.

“I guess it’s democracy in action,” Dresner said. “We respect their right to protest.”

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Charles Dudley Jr November 8, 2008 | 5:16 p.m.

Quoted For Truth:

Do we point fingers at others and never at ourselves? Parents are legally responsible for their minor children. If you can't accept that, let the state take them away from you.
Your children are a reflection of their upbringing and moms and dads are the front-line. Stay involved with their school teachers, their friends, their whereabouts, curfews, boundaries and walls. Know and communicate with the parents of the kids your kids hang out with. Keep them on a tight leash and let it out as they become more emotionally mature and demonstrate success. (Once you give them more freedom than they can handle and it's just harder to reel them in.)
Monitor from a distance and acknowledge that you love them, care about them and notice their "wise/healthy" choices. When you're proud of them, tell them.
When patterns of problems surface, seek family/personal counseling. Access every avenue of help and support available. Read about parenting, converse with others and find what works best for you and your child's quality of life. Deal with the anger, the embarrassment, the shame, the "blame game," the manipulation, the excuses, the "toxic guilt" and all the other stuff that surfaces. If you're lucky, you might regain hope and both parents and children will feel loved and empowered. But then and only then can you say that you've done the best you can as a parent. And no one can blame you for that...

- Posted by: ray shapiro | November 8, 2008 08:25 AM

(Report Comment)
Panama Red November 9, 2008 | 9:18 a.m.

Only a small part of the community is outraged. The rest of us aren't outraged. We have to deal with your kids on a day to day basis. They've managed to get kicked out of the mall and to have killed the Twilight Festival. Congratulations! The correctional system will fit them well.

(Report Comment)
bob Kinder November 9, 2008 | 7:05 p.m.

robertson should get out in the world or stay retired, because he fails to understand his position in life, the officer did a proper job, its the parents that need to be reprimaned.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 10, 2008 | 4:19 a.m.

bob Kinder those parents would rather blame somebody else for all of their own short comings or blame it on race,religion,economic income,living environment or some other excuse.

Anything but their own obvious lack of truly nurturing their children to become proper citizens.

(Report Comment)
Tom O'Sullivan November 10, 2008 | 8:14 a.m.

One of the most wonderful things about Columbia is we have so many experts in the field of law enforcement who have never spent a day in the profession. Gene Robertson is a prime example.

Tom O'Sullivan

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand November 10, 2008 | 9:08 a.m.

“He should have been removed until such time that the inquiry has judged him to be innocent,” Robertson said.

Translation: Guilty until proven innocent.

(Report Comment)
John Beaumonte November 10, 2008 | 9:15 a.m.

Good comment Tom. It's easy to armchair quarterback Gene.
Perhaps you need to sit back and write your memoirs.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 10, 2008 | 9:31 a.m.

That officer should be given a medal,a promotion and a raise in pay for all of the hard work he has done in keeping all of the staff and students safe at HHS over his years of service.

If the parents would actually be doing their jobs in nurturing and educating their children to be proper and more upstanding citizens than they obviously are not by these actions we have been seeing there would have been no need for that officer nor any officer to be assigned to schools in the first place.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro November 10, 2008 | 9:55 a.m.

Did this group of misguided cop "blamers" get a protest permit?
Do they expect the city to provide hot lunches at the rally?
Will they brave the cold as the rest of the community gives them the cold shoulder?
Have they ever read a book about "Parenting Skills?"
Do they read books to their kids?
Do any of these "parents" even have a library card?
(There free, you know, and you can learn a lot of stuff!)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 10, 2008 | 10:12 a.m.

ray shapiro good question on the protest permit for sure.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz November 10, 2008 | 11:00 a.m.

I don't think there is any protest permit required by the city. The only thing I could find in a quick search of the city's website was a parade permit that the CPD can issue, but that would not be applicable for this situation.

The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law <snip> or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 10, 2008 | 11:36 a.m.

I think you best go read/call/inquire again because even for the small protest rally I ran in front of city hall I was required by city ordinance to have a permit.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz November 10, 2008 | 12:32 p.m.

Do you have a copy of the ordninance or your permit request?

The customers of Warren Funeral Home protested across from a church/NAACP fundraiser, no issues. I was part of a pre-meeting rally before a Board of Health meeting on the smoking ban a few years back, no issues. Do the Wednesday protesters at Providence/Broadway or Saturday at the Post Office have permits? I'm betting not, but who really cares?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz November 10, 2008 | 12:34 p.m.

Forgot to include the link, is this what you filled out and who told you it was necessary, if so?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 10, 2008 | 3:47 p.m.

Call Capt Zim Schwartze and ask John Schultz if you do not believe me. Maybe in certain places they do not if it us under a certain amount of people protesting all I can tell you is I had to have a permit and that is what I was told so I followed the city law and got a permit.

I filled out the same form everybody uses yes John Schultz off the city web site and I turned it back in to the proper person and I was granted my permit with in a few days time.

If you do not believe then call Capt. Zim Schwartze is all I can tell ya.

(Report Comment)
Hoot Gibson November 10, 2008 | 10:30 p.m.

I have been reading comments for the last few weeks, reference the problems at Hickman High School. I laugh at those on this comment section, who have no idea what it is to be a police officer and the split second decisions that they have to make on a daily basis. I wish Mr. Dudley and a few others would just for a second understood what it takes and how a police dept. operates.

Also on the other hand, officers should be held accountable for their actions as well. I know Mark and worked with him for a few years in his current capacity at CPD.

I was not there, so in this specific incident, I can not say what happened. But I do know history has a way of repeating itself. Mark has always thought he had to show his authority, in situations where he didn't have too. This is not Mark's first problem, he has displayed this type of behavior in the past towards the citizens of Columbia, both black and white, he is an equal opportunity officer.

Mark is a good person, but it appears his behavior has been tolerated over the years and those in charge have ignored or possibly failed to take little or no action. I'm sure you could see that with Mr. Dresner's reaction in the article about the protesters. Flip and arrogant.

Should Mark had been allowed to return to the school prior to the internal investigation being completed? I would say no and citizens wonder why a Review Board is needed for CPD?

Is this situation entirely the fault of Mark? no, the students have some responsibilty including the young lady who was trying to break up the fight, as well as the parents of the children.

Having worn the blue uniform with my fellow brothers and sisters, there is a time to do the right thing.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 11, 2008 | 4:25 a.m.

Hoot Gibson FYI I grew up around the law and being on both sides of it getting to know many officers quite personally even in their off time when I was growing up in Northern Californian so I do have some very personal back round with law enforcement how things can get out of control and having seen first hand just what it takes in the midst of a situation like this officer was involved in to get thing under control more than you give me credit for due to you do not know me at all.

I still stand by my support of this officer and what he had to do. I still stand by my statements of these parents of these problem kids need to be held accountable in all of these problems they are causing.

If these parents actually took the responsibilities they should be taking in the home first we would not be seeing so much of this in our schools,crime in our streets and crime in general in our city. The Columbia Mall would not have had to put those restrictions in place either.

The roots of this problem are not race,religion,education, law enforcement agencies, social service agencies or anybody else but the roots of this problem are the parents whether they be Caucasian,African American,Mexican or whatever nationality,religious belief or economic back round.

It is the parents themselves that allow their children to act as they do from a very young age and that keeps on being allowed as they grow and mature until there comes to a point where it is practically "programmed" into the child and the child is allowed to accept it as the norm.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand November 11, 2008 | 6:35 a.m.

Instead of a CPD review board, how about a parental review board? Then the community could shame and punish people whose inability or unwillingness to be parents is a major reason for these problems.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 11, 2008 | 7:09 a.m.

Who would review the parents then?

(Report Comment)

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