The Big Lesson After Video of Nurse Arrested Goes Viral
Police body cam video showing a nurse arrested at a hospital in Utah quickly went viral this week, leading to a news conference and apologies.
Police body cameras can quickly exonerate officers accused of wrongdoing. But as body cam video demonstrated quite dramatically this week, it can also turn what a police department calls unnecessary force into a social media-driven firestorm.
Video of a nurse arrested at a Utah hospital fueled such a fire.
Footage recorded in July but released this week shows a nurse at first calmly explaining to a police officer why she cannot hand over a blood sample because none of three conditions agreed upon by the hospital and the police department has been met. She is holding a cell phone with its speakerphone option activated and it appears to be her supervisor on the other end of the line.
Showing the officer paperwork, the nurse calmly and respectfully explains that for her to be able to hand over the patient’s blood sample, the patient must give his consent or without his consent if the patient is under arrest or the police have a warrant. The University of Utah Hospital said neither of those conditions was the case in this incident.
The officer, frustrated by not getting what he’s asked for, suddenly grabs the woman and says, “We’re done.” He then forcibly escorts the screaming nurse out of the building, handcuffs her in the hospital’s sally port, and forces her to sit in a car while things are sorted out.
The officer stated in the police report that it was his own watch commander who instructed him to arrest the nurse for interfering with a police investigation. The officer also said he needed the blood sample to protect, not punish, the patient.
The city’s police chief said he was “alarmed” by the footage, and the mayor called the incident “completely unacceptable:”
— Mayor J. Biskupski (@slcmayor) September 1, 2017
But the nurse told CNN the reason she came forward with the footage wasn’t so much about the reaction by the city, but by the hospital itself. The nurse’s attorney said they weren’t encouraged by their discussions with University of Utah police and the Department of Public Safety, which provides security for the hospital; which were held because officers from both departments were there when the arrest happened but did nothing to intervene.
Those conversations certainly need to happen, especially since it appears, from all accounts, that the nurse (and the hospital) was in the right here.
But another type of conversation — and realization — needs to happen that is significantly more imporant and far-reaching.
We’re being watched.
All of us.
Regardless of whether we wear the badge or depend on those who do, somewhere these days, cameras are documenting our words and our actions.
Times have changed thanks to technology, but one of the biggest changes more recently has been the ease at which we can be monitored and the amount of monitoring going on that we don’t even think about.
We have to remember now more than ever that we have to behave better. We have to be the examples. We have to be the ones that, when footage comes to light, are always in the right.
The popular social media criticism, “Do better” no longer applies to someone else.
We’d all do well to remember that it now applies to us, too.