As we've said before, this thing didn't have to go down this way and it was probably not the wisest of moves to arrest a news photographer toting a $50,000 camera recording pictures and sound all at broadcast quality without an absolutely air-tight case. That being said, any disciplinary action should be consistent with discipline received by other officers in similar situations. Punishment should not be meted out in a greater or lesser measure simply because the infraction was caught by a television news camera.
We can't think of a single reason that Officer Guzman should suddenly be placed on leave this past Saturday - even if Chief Schultz really received the IRO report on Friday as he claimed in today's Journal (Subscription). Was Officer Guzman threatened by a wild band of roving news photographers? Was Guzman threatening to arrest every photographer he came in contact with? We hardly think so - which makes his suspension look more like pandering.
(Sidebar)Relieving Guzman of duty smacks of punishment by media or at least because of unwanted media attention. In other words, Guzman seems to be becoming a scapegoat offered up on a silver platter to appease the media. Like it or not, Officer Guzman is entitled to administrative due process and legal due process. Further, the administrative process needs to be fair and consistent regardless of media attention.
We were taken to task by a reader who chided us for our original lack of clarity as to the status of Officer Guzman. We indicated that he had been "relieved of duty" which could have been taken to mean that he had been terminated. As far as we know, Officer Guzman is on some kind of leave - whether it's paid or unpaid is currently unclear.