We are very pro-police and pro-law-and-order at Guns Save Life. At the same time we have no patience for police misconduct, when LEOs run roughshod over the constitutional rights of innocent people. Especially when it comes to gun rights.
Big city departments too often foster an “us vs. them” mentality where some officers cut corners when it comes to “serving” the population. In fact, a Department of Justice study shows just that as department with 1000 or more sworn officers had almost twice the rate of use of force citizen complaints (7.7 per year on average) compared to 4.2 (per 100 officers) per year for agencies with 100-249 officers.
Enter Normal, IL, home of Illinois State University.
One doesn’t expect unprofessional policing in a liberal college town (of 53,000). To the contrary, one would expect the highest levels of professionalism and respect for the rights of locals in a liberal college town that’s home to Illinois’ oldest university. It would be the last place one would expect oath-breaking thugs who use poor judgement, poor tactics and delivering piss poor service to the community. And that goes double for tuition-paying students who support about 5,000+ Illinois State University employees and ten thousand or more additional jobs the university supports within in the community and beyond.
After all, moms and dads – including police officer parents – don’t send their sons (and especially daughters) off to college so they can get battered and charged with a felony, handcuffed and taken to jail and strip searched only to be released two hours later. All because some oath-breaking thug cop decided she wanted to illegally seize the student’s phone without reasonable suspicion of wrong-doing or a warrant.
This isn’t the first time in recent years that Normal PD has failed the community. Their department abandoned a number of squad cars (and everything inside them including weapons, armor, clothing, and other equipment) to George Floyd rioters in Bloomington-Normal in 2020. Those mobs looted those squad cars before setting them ablaze. The riots left Normal PD begging neighboring police agencies to loan them squad cars and equipment until the wizards of smart could order more squads and equipment and bring them into service.
This time they have earned national attention for doing something even more insidious than arresting a Guns Save Life member who had been attacked and stabbed 19 times in his own front yard by a drunk, knife-wielding neighbor.
James DeWitt reportedly inflicted the 19 stab wounds of his neighbor (our member) and had a criminal history that included a recent arrest for stabbing two ISU students near campus. This after witnesses said that DeWitt taunted them by repeatedly saying “you f***** n*****.” Normal PD didn’t charge him with a hate crime in that incident, either.
The latest badge-tarnishing incident
This time, some members of the Normal PD boys and girls in blue dog-piled Taylor Brown, an 18-year-old ISU student to illegally seize her phone. That’s right: the officer didn’t have reasonable articulable suspicion or probable cause to seize the ISU coed’s phone, but that didn’t stop the cock-sure female cop from escalating a confrontation into a full-on melee in the Normal PD front lobby.
Not a one of her fellow officers or detectives at NPD stopped the aggravated battery of the coed by oath-breaking fellow cops. Interestingly, the coed’s mother serves as a police officer in the City of Chicago.
Later, that same officer couldn’t even convince a judge to sign off on a warrant to examine the phone afterwards. Why? No probable cause. Not even the thinnest of probable cause.
Of course, in a “cover your ass” moment, Normal PD cops arrested the coed for felony aggravated battery for daring to resist the unlawful seizure of her property. Before you get all animated that police can seize whatever they want, whenever they want, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that people can use limited force to resist an improper seizure of property by police. See People v. Young.
Amazingly, the victim of the battery by the Normal Police officers that night voluntarily came down to the station to talk with police about a fire that occurred at her complex earlier in the evening.
After sitting by herself in an interrogation room for 40 minutes, the young woman wanted to leave.
The cops wanted her phone but they didn’t have a warrant. So they forcibly wrested it from the teen girl before putting her in cuffs and hauling her off to jail. There jail staff strip searched the coed and held her for a couple of hours until she was released without any charges.
Now the officers involved are looking at a lawsuit for their actions. Go Taylor Go.
Making matters worse for Normal PD, the video of the incident has gained national attention on the YouTube channel Audit the Audit. Audit has 2.34M subscribers and does in depth analysis of police interactions with the public. They aren’t anti-police. They show videos of police behaving professionally in the face of abuse and obnoxiousness from idiots as well.
The Audit channel profiled this case in a video posted on May 8th.
The video has tallied 334,000 views in the first 12 hours and expectedly, the Normal Police Department’s non-emergency number has received scores if not hundreds of angry calls from across the nation.
Comments on the video tell the tale:
This one really got me. 18 year old comes down to the station after a traumatic event, arrested and now will never ever trust police again. Great job officers. You just pushed another person and their family to hate you for life.
“Why are you treating me like I’m a criminal?” She handled herself with far more poise and articulation than I would have at 18… Shameful.
Yeah, I concur here as well.
This girl was so mature and articulate for an 18 year old! She asked the right questions, stood her ground. The police officer was petulant and petty. Her fragile ego was fractured and she didn’t know how to handle it other than becoming a tyrant. Absolutely abhorrent and disgusting behaviour.
Indeed, indeed. Before COVID, Normal PD had the well-earned reputation for being pretty heavy-handed on traffic enforcement. Even though they have a smallish department, they wrote far more tickets than any other agency in McLean County… maybe even more than all the others put together. NPD also had a reputation for citing people for as few as one or two MPH over the posted limit. Serving residents good and hard.
Congratulations police officers. You just turned a person who volunteered to help your investigation into a person that will never help you in the future.
“I came here willingly because I trusted you.” Man that hit tough… these officers failed us.
And one listener noted how Taylor Brown invoked her request for an attorney and that at point, the cock-sure NPD detective said take her to jail “with whatever charges you have.”
18 years old at 3AM – she did exceptionally well. 9:47 She invoked her right to have an attorney present during questioning, officers continued to ask her questions – I don’t expect LEOs to know the nuances of every law, but if they don’t know the Miranda Rights (a rudimentary basic of performing law enforcement duties), they are unqualified to perform their duties.
Normal PD’s “service” continues – by dodging calls from angry people across the nation?
As I live in Bloomington, I called at 11am yesterday morning to ask if they still have a “ride along” program for community members to ride along with a cop for a shift to see policing by Normal PD first-hand. I want to see if they are as bad as they appear in that video.
Nobody answered the non-emergency front desk phone number and the call eventually went to voicemail. I left a very polite voicemail identifying myself and leaving my number right out of the gate.
Not only did I mention the ride along request and requested a call back, but I also pointed out the video and said that it surely put both the department and the town of Normal in a very bad light. Furthermore, I chided the office staff for their inability to answer their front desk line at 11am on a Monday a.m.
They haven’t called me back as of this writing at 10am Tuesday, which suggests they may not even be listening to the messages.
The Bloomington Pantagraph also covered the story, with lots of bodycam video (with fewer redactions and pixelations) here.