Incident One/Central District/Sun March 18/8:59 pm: Officer Murray reports: "Upon arrival I contacted both parties. Victim (black female, born in 1978) stated she was upset with the suspect (black male, born in 1974) because she learned that he was having an affair with another woman. The victim stated that they were involved in a heated verbal argument that turned physical when he attempted to put her head in an arm lock. She resisted and did not lose consciousness during the struggle.

"I explained to her that the suspect was going to be arrested for DV [domestic-violence] assault. At that time she stated that she did not want to get him arrested—it was a situation that went out of control. I explained to her that she did not get to decide whether he did or did not get arrested. It was now out of her hands. I placed the suspect under arrest for DV assault based on the victim's verbal statement to me. I advised the suspect of his rights and he told me he understood them."

Incident Two/Capitol Hill/Sun March 18/11:58 pm: Officer S. A. Elliott reports: "While heading to the precinct, the suspect [white male, 27 years old] continuously explained that he was doing nothing wrong by being at his ex-girlfriend's [white, 28] place because she had asked him to be there and he never assaulted her. I explained to him numerous times that his ex-girlfriend was a protected person—she had a "no contact order" against him—and being a protected person meant she had no legal authority to allow him to violate that order. I further explained that only a judge could remove such an order. No matter what her feelings were or what the situation was between them, the order could not be broken. I asked if he had anger problems when he was high on cocaine and he said he only used cocaine during the weekends...."

The main conclusion that can be drawn from these similar incidents—which took place on the night of the same day, March 18, four hours apart—is that police officers love nothing more than the impersonality of the law. Here is their moment of truth, the moment that brings total meaning to their line of work: when it is not a matter of the victim's feelings, the suspect's complaints, or even the officer's mood, but simply and absolutely a matter of the law itself. "I explained to her that she did not get to decide whether he did or did not get arrested. It was now out of her hands," reports Officer Murray with the confidence of a cold machine. The woman can cry all she wants, she can hit the walls with her fists, she can fall on her knees, throw her feeble arms around the officer's long legs, and plead like a miserable creature—all these things she is more than free to do but they will have zero effect on the officer because he is no longer human; he is now the machine of the law in motion. And nothing can stop the wheels, pistons, and cogs of this machine except the completion of its function. recommended

charles@thestranger.com

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