Maybe we’ve got the wrong guy on the hot seat.

Absurd.  Kafkaesque.

We’ve all mocked the Athens-Clarke County justice system over things like scooters and alleys, but things have crossed into a new realm entirely with the news that the obstruction charge against Jordan Love has been upheld by a magistrate.

… Auslander determined that Love “did obstruct Officer [Kevin] Thompson, a law enforcement officer, in the lawful discharge of his official duties by refusing several requests to provide his date of birth and a correct spelling of his middle name” in issuing a warrant.

This kid has been booked, posted bail, retained counsel and now has to deal with the criminal justice system – either a trial or a plea bargain – over his middle name.  No… sorry… over the spelling of his middle name.

Forget about the civil libertarian in you being outraged.  This is just the cherry on top of the sundae for Mark Richt this week.  He already deals with the hot seat canard on the recruiting trail.  Then he got hit with the Damon Evans dismissal.  And now, this, the best negative recruiting tool ever.

You can hear it now:  “Ma’am, one thing I can assure you of is that if little Johnny comes to our town, he won’t be getting arrested because of his name.  Coach Richt is a good man, you ask him if that’s the case in Athens.”

And the worst thing about that is Richt has no answer, no defense to it.  Unless you think providing a “learning opportunity” for Chief Williamson’s officers is going to carry any weight with little Johnny’s mama.

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63 Comments

Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football

63 responses to “Maybe we’ve got the wrong guy on the hot seat.

  1. shane#1

    These bullshit arrests need to stop and stop now! I want Williamson fired and a good old housecleaning of the whole department. If we could get enough UGA fans and boosters together can’t we get Williamson gone?

  2. Spike

    Maybe the cops and CMR can have a beer summit like Obama did. Yea, that’s the ticket.

  3. Ugalaw

    Seriously? Fired? Housecleaning? As the law reads, what the player did was obstruction. Why not tell the player to cooperate with police next time? I don’t think you want Athens to become like Gainesville when every player has their charges dropped because the DA is in bed with the AD. Athens is not that hard of a town to keep your nose clean in! Just don’t go out looking f or trouble and play games with the police.

    • Why not tell the cop that some things in life aren’t worth making a federal case over?

      When even Williamson says the arrest was a mistake, I think we can do away with blaming the player here.

      • hailtogeorgia

        Senator, I wish it were that simple. However, in the words of Robert Heinlein, “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”

        I think that fits perfectly here.

        • Then what you’re saying is that Williamson is wasting his time trying to instruct his officers to handle situations like this differently in the future.

          If that’s the case, there are a lot of people that no longer need to be employed by UGA Police. And somebody with a lick of common sense needs to revise its hiring procedures. Stat.

          • hailtogeorgia

            Well, I’m not against Williamson trying to instruct his officers to handle situations like this differently in the future (certainly, that’s the prudent thing to do), but I just think it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

            As for your edicts in the second part…they sound pretty reasonable to me.

            The problem is that the majority of UGA Campus Police are young guys first starting out in law enforcement. They have something to prove, with many of them resenting students. At the same time, a large portion of the students don’t respect the campus police officers and deem them as little more than “rent-a-cops”. This basically creates a cycle where each group respects the other group less and less, based on the lack of respect shown to them by the other group.

            This was a combination of errors, on the part of both the officer and Love. Failure to give your birthdate to an officer is out of line. Is it an arrest worthy offense? No, but it surely doesn’t start you out on strong footing.

            • I understand what you’re saying about the kind of people being hired by UGA police. But again, this all comes back to accountability. If the people being hired and the people doing the hiring knew there would be consequences for unprofessional behavior, there would be a lot less of it. The problem is that most folks tend to be deferential to the police (that’s not wrong, either) and some police take advantage of that attitude.

              We’re talking about shooting off fireworks here. That’s not necessarily illegal activity in Georgia. Once the cop determined that no laws were broken (and since Love wasn’t charged with such, I have to presume none were), there really wasn’t much reason to continue on. Walk away.

              By the way, that’s not my advice. That’s the advice of a friend of mine who was a UGA police officer many moons ago.

              • hailtogeorgia

                Agreed about police officers taking advantage of that sort of thing. I’ve experienced it first-hand on more than one occasion. It happens even more often when you have a situation like this one, where an officer goes into it thinking he’s going to make an arrest, and then it turns out that it was much ado about nothing. The blood is already going and some guys become determined to make an arrest for something.

      • Macallanlover

        Sorry Senator, this is clearly on the player. I doubt anyone supports arresting someone for fireworks violation, but I suspect a large majority (outside Washington “leadership”) supports enforcing and respecting our laws. If Love had not shown his ass, this incident would be trivial and no one talking about it. Citizens in a civilized society need to respect law enforcement and challenge their arrest circumstances in court. A speeding ticket does not result in an arrest until you decide to flee from the flashing blue light, same in this case, and I support arrests in both situations.

        I don’t use my first name either, but when an officer asks for my full legal name, I don’t challenge his, or her’s, authority by acting like some tough guy. If you want to challenge an officers’ right to issue a citation, go to court and do so, that is the responsibility of the judiciary system. This continual support of people acting like thugs to law enforcement doing their job is getting tiring. I think one of our current RBs had a similar tandrum 2-3 years ago during the downtown summer incident that caused us problems.

        Discipline and respect for the rules can carry over on the field. I would like to see UGA players change their behavior both on and off the field resulting in fewer arrests and penalties.

        • Um… Love wasn’t arrested for a fireworks violation.

          And your “Citizens in a civilized society need to respect law enforcement and challenge their arrest circumstances in court” comment is only one side of the coin. The other is that we citizens have the right to expect our law enforcement officials to behave professionally and be held accountable when they don’t. Sadly, that is not the case far too often.

          And if there’s one thing I’m really sick of, it’s misuse of the word “thug”. Unless you’ve got proof that Love got physical with the arresting officer, that’s way out of line to describe him as such based on what happened here.

        • Macallan, I certainly appreciate your sentiments, but how would your

          Citizens in a civilized society need to respect law enforcement and challenge their arrest circumstances in court.

          opinion change if a police officer tased you because you didn’t respond quickly enough to a request or if he perceived you to be a threat that didn’t exist?

          I don’t disagree with you that compliance is usually the best way to avoid incidents with police, but the problem many libertarians like myself (and the Senator presumably) have with police officers is that they are (A) too quick to use excessive force and (B) are not held accountable in the aftermath.

          • I can’t recommend this web site highly enough.

            What people who defend police action like this don’t get is that if society did a better job of holding police accountable for misconduct, there’d be a lot less situations like Love’s.

          • Macallanlover

            Audit, I am in total agreement about dealing strongly with abuse of power by law enforcement, soldiers, or the government. I feel these incidents are far less frequent than portrayed in this discussion where the issues of racism and jack boots were interjected to divert attention from the primary points. The vast majority of police officers and soldiers do their job well, unfortunately the well publicized exceptions are often used to justify civil disobedience. I want the police to use force to control lawlessness whether it be with tasers, batons, or bullets. When they cross the line and are over zealous, handle the individuals responsible firmly. Lack of respect for laws in a society is unacceptable, whether it be the offender’s reaction, or the police.

            I support zero tolerance for bad behavior from those entrusted with enforcement of laws, but the time and place for this judgement does not come from citizens in the field. We have procedures within the system to address those complaints. If the system needs to be improved, change it. Obstructing justice, resisting arrest, or attacking the police is something that cannot be tolerated or we will have anarchy.

            Freedom can be lost by threats from extremists on both the Left and Right. You are just as dead, or powerless, if killed/imprisoned by either Stalin or Hitler. Our greatest threat to freedom currently comes from the Left as we see many excusing reasons to ignore laws just because we don’t agree with them. In this incident, the situation would have been miniscule if Love had dealt with it differently, and that was my point. Lack of discipline off the field can lead to the same on the field.

            Bad times, just glad CFB is close to get my mind off of all the problems surrounding me.

        • DawgPhan

          At least it wasnt this bad…

          Tazed Granny
          http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/06/24/28330.htm

          Or this great map showing where the police have been murdering people across the country under the guise of warrant execution.
          http://www.cato.org/raidmap/

          Hard to understand why anyone doesnt respect cops when they are out there protecting us from sick grannies and fireworks.

    • 69Dawg

      Lets pretend for a moment you are a lawyer and not some dumb guy who thinks that the police are all good and every law needs to be enforced to it’s fullest. I am a lawyer and there are so many BS laws on the books of this nation that are never enforced or are selectively enforced that to arrest a kid for not giving his full name is just plan stupid. Now think about the fact that this police officer is carrying a load gun and has no judgement what so ever. I don’t exactly sleep well at night knowing that there are police officers that may not be smart enough to know when to give a ticket, when to arrest and oh by the way use deadly force. No wonder there have been a marked increase in number of little old ladies gunned down in there homes because the police made a mistake. God help us all. Just because a person is placed in a position of authority does not make that person automatically right and just. The judge on the other hand is a complete moron for letting this thing continue. If the Chief says it should have not happened then the judge is just stupid or Athens-Clark County has truly become the most leftist county in all of Georgia and the judge is just making a statement to all his leftist constituents that football player are to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

      By the way if the kids mother is really FBI then if I was the judge or the cop I would seek employment else where. I was with the IRS for 11 years and I’ve seen grown cops cry when we got through with them. It won’t be soon but hell hath no fury like a pissed off Federal Agent.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      Sorry brother but I must respectfully disagree with your legal opinion on that. Without quoting the whole section or citing cases, not SPELLING your middle name to the cops is not “obstruction.” By the way, any criminal defense lawyer (and some DAs) will tell you that misdemeanor “Obstruction of an Officer” is a BS charge that cops come up with when they want to hassle somebody and have no real grounds. The Athens-Clarke County idiots will be lucky not to get sued (ACLU, etc.) over this.

  4. LRGK

    Williamson is running Athens like an English ‘Gvner’ in an Irish countryside village.

  5. HVL Dawg

    So much for the right to remain silent.

  6. Irishdawg

    I can tell you guys as a law enforcement officer that the ACC police are complete jerk-offs. They rarely if ever extend any professional courtesy to other cops, and they apparently spend all their time making chickenshit arrests of UGA students rather than doing one thing about the actual crime in Athens. I would rather have the Juarez, Mexico police running things.

  7. RusDawg

    First off. Let’s not blame Williamson for this mess. He tried to do the right thing after he found out the silly reason for the obstruction charge.

    Second. I have no idea what the story is with this kid’s middle name, but I can tell you that I might have had a similar problem.

    You see, my parents were not born in this country and I have a very long complicated middle name. I had grown up spelling it one way….the correct way…..until I turned 15 to go get my learners permit…..turns out the doctor when I was born transcribed two letters incorrectly on my birth certificate, so I had grown up spelling my name technically wrong. Even to this day, I have to remind myself of how to “legally” spell my middle name. And believe me, when I was 18-19, the “new” spelling was weird to me….and really irked me.

    I think this is stupid. And working with city court judges/magistrate judges, etc. for a living. I can tell you that they often have TERRIBLE judgement.

    *Yes I realize I can just go get my name changed.

  8. ROY

    ok, i really hate to even go down this road because in no way do i want to be the one defending the uga police. i for the life of me cant understand whats so hard about giving an officer your middle name. it seems like a “student-athelete” would be smart enough to know his name and be able to spell it.
    i havent read the report so i dont know why the officer stopped them however i do know that its procedure for the police to obtain everyones i.d. so they know who they are dealing with and to check for warrants etc.. mr. love im guessing didnt have his. when the officer obtained his name and birthday and attempted to verify the information over the n.c.i.c./g.c.i.c. computer it would not come back. this only happens when you are givin false information. it dosent seem unreasonable to expect someone to actually know their own name.

    • it seems like a “student-athelete” (sic) would be smart enough to know his name and be able to spell it.

      Normally I don’t highlight Internet grammar/spelling errors, but I’ll make an exception in this case for obvious reasons.

      And again, his own chief said the officer mishandled the situation. So why defend him?

      • ROY

        WOW got me! and actually you do that all the time smart@ss.

        I guess i still just can’t understand how you don’t know your middle name or just won’t give it to the officer. It would lead any “reasonable officer” to belive that you are hiding somthing.

        I don’t understand the obstruction charge though. the correct charge should have been giving a false name/dob. If he needed to be charged with anything.

        • dudetheplayer

          What if you don’t have a middle name (like myself) or don’t want to go by it anymore (for personal reasons)?

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Roy, the question really is why should the kid have to give his middle name (and spell it) to a cop when he wasn’t doing anything wrong. There is a little thing called probable cause here. People in the US are not supposed to be hassled by cops without it.

          • ROY

            If the story is correct they had probable cause. Someone called in a fireworks complaint. Which are still for some unknown reason illegal. I know what you are thinking, but they have to respond to the call.

  9. No One Knows You're a Dawg

    Don’t magistrates have to stand for election? Hopefully some enterprising attorney in Athens will run against Judge Charles Auslander and his Barney Fife mentality.

    Also, why does UGA even have a police department? It should be abolished and replaced with an outsourced security firm. It would create greater professionalism and accountability as well as cost savings.

    • For all we know, maybe Auslander resents being put in the position of cleaning up the mess UGA police made with this and is giving Williamson his version of a “learning opportunity”. It’s a shame that Love has to be collateral damage if that’s the case, though.

  10. tduga1

    I am in the middle on this one. It sounds to me like Jordan love was being an uncooperative jerk. When an officer of the law asks for you name you provide it. This is part of a larger cultural problem where many have a lack of respect for authority figures.

    On the other hand…

    What a complete waste of taxpayer time and money.

    • I ask again: if Love was in the wrong, then why has Williamson acted as he has here?

      • ROY

        Why did the judge act as he did here?

        • I can come up with a variety of reasons, from lack of common sense to a refusal to let the UGA police off the hook for the mistake, but in the end, the only one who really knows is the judge.

          • ROY

            Could the same also be said for the chief?

            I also would think that the uga police chief would be easier for “someone” to influence on this one. You can’t really fire a judge or cut a judges budget until election time. I don’t see this costing a judge an election anyway.

            Fun topic. Sadly i have to put on my “jack-boots and “goose-step” my why into work.

  11. Ubiquitous GA Alum

    After encountering Chief Williamson on North Campus several years back my opinion is that he is a flat out jerk with a superiority complex.

    With that said if he’s stating that the arresting officer was wrong, then there’s really nothing left to discuss. Has Williamson ever publicly chastised one of his officers for another arrest of a UGA athlete?

  12. Dawgfan17

    All I know is the several times the cops have come to ask me to stop shooting off fireworks they never asked my name or my birthday only told me that I need to stop and not do it anymore. I wasn’t there so I don’t know if Love was being combative from the start but nothing I have read says that is the case. What would it have hurt for something so small for the officer to say, hey you can’t shoot fireworks here, told them to stop and moved on.

  13. It’s interesting to me that the comment chain has focused solely on the rebel-without-a-cause aspect of this story.

    Is nobody concerned about whether it’ll get used against Georgia on the recruiting trail?

  14. shane#1

    Senator, recruiting trail yes, good luck with that dream team. I am afraid of something more serious than missing out on some recruits and possibly losing a few ball games. No one has mentioned the dreaded R word. Just suppose some enterprising young lawyer decides to make these arrest a racial issue. Who has been the victim of the most far out charges brought by the UGAPD? Exiciting an alley, well all Mo-ped arrest? If UGA doesn’t get a handle on that Dept the Revs Jackson and Sharpton just might show up one day and we have a divided campus. For goodness sakes people, give a warning or write a ticket if necessary, but stop this crap!

  15. Joe Q Citizen

    As someone who went to UGA with this POS, I can tell you he is the last person who should be Judging ANYONE… Sure he smoked pot and drove drunk as a young UGA undergrad, but the worst of it is he killed a young lady back in June 1991 – and used his daddy to get him out of it (I understand his Daddy was a Judge at the time in ATL) Yes, that’s right, this man who sits on the Magistrate bench in Athens judging others, was high AND drunk, ran a car into a ditch in Winder, and left a young woman to die. (didn’t call the Police or EMS)
    Daddy got him off, and to this day I believe he has never apologized to her family..

    I count the days until he stands in Judgment…..

  16. shane#1

    Senator, of course. but rival coaches will not divide the UGA campus along racial lines. Even in the sixties UGA avoided some of the worst problems, I don’t want to see the trouble start now.

    • Dawgwalker07

      No the campus won’t be divided because coaches will convince black players to go other places. I believe that’s the point being made here.

      And as a member of that campus now, I don’t want to see anything happen either. There’s a lot of great students who are wonderful people on this campus, and starting racial problems over a police department with little-man syndrome is a horrendous thought.

  17. Police should be more concerned on the rampant theft going on at UGA campus of laptops, flatpanels etc. than small nonsense southern town issues like these.

  18. The UGA Police should have better community training, they acting like GESTAPO. They should know better in handling students

  19. The Watergirl

    I was a student and worked as a bartender downtown for 3 years and anyone who has spent any real time in Athens knows the Campus and City police are complete idiots!! They run around with a chip on their shoulder and it hurts the town.
    The chief admitted it was a miscommunication right there Jordan Love is innocent in my opinion and this judge is trying to prove a point to the UGA police.
    Recruiting wise of course it will hurt because coaches will use anything they can to change the opinion of a player and his family.

  20. My last two cents on this. Look, I respect police. One of my roommates in college’s dad was a cop and he was a good man. However, as was pointed out earlier is that most people are deferential to police officers and some officers take advantage of that without the fear of repercussions or being held accountable for their actions.

    The line from Harold & Kumar sums up a lot of what is wrong with the attitudes of some police officers that gives us this natural distrust and anger at the way they treat people:

    -“You were that guy in high school that used to pick on all us geeks, right?”
    -“You’re damn right, I did”
    -“Then we went off to college, and you had to figure out a way to keep being a dick to people, so you became a cop.”

    There are many great cops out there, but we can’t excuse when one crosses the line just because he’s a cop. We’re all afforded the same civil liberties under the Constitution and cops shouldn’t be above reproach when they cross that line.

  21. Chickasaw

    I’m an Athens area native and UGA grad and have had friends and relatives work for local law enforcement. Many of the local officers are nice, some are competent. But my sad conclusion after a number of dealings over many years is that, generally, the local law enforcement authorities (ACC and UGA alike) do a poor job of focusing on the important matters and very often go into overkill over trivial ones. As a serious young man working my way thru school, I was investigated for an alleged theft I couldn’t have committed, twice had police officers pull weapons on me (once at my place of residence), worked at a convenience store that was successfully robbed while cops had the place staked out, had no success getting police to focus on 2 thefts of personal property and can tell you that for years the APD hired at least some former lawbreakers who they themselves had previously arrested. I’d hoped their judgment about where to focus attention had improved over the years, but perhaps not.

    • John Q. Public

      Bottom line, the ACC needs a house-cleaning and the way to do this is through the County Commission. That is who the Police Chief reports to and who has hiring/firing authority over him. Sounds like Athens-Clarke County needs a new Chief and probably some new Commissioners. We could stand a new University President, too.

  22. JC in Powder Springs

    It would be my great pleasure to contribute to a fund to help Jordan (middle name excluded) Love sue Athens-Clarke. The police-state that has developed in Athens needs to be reversed. Who’s to say the cops aren’t the “thugs”, interfering in typical civilian life situations? IMHO restraint from police is more important than any other characteristic – and I believe that characteristic is quickly fading away. Police are becoming increasingly bolder. It’s a very troubling situation.

  23. chad

    maybe I read it wrong but didn’t one of the reports say that his middle name wasn’t even on his drivers license? If that’s the case why was the cop even asking for the name? To me that just looks like he was looking to stir things up with love.