Late Night Ramblings on the Infamous Traffic Stop, the Blue Wall of Silence, and All That

It’s late, so be warned — earnest posting ahead.

I got into an online conversation about The Moats Incident overnight with some cops on a police discussion forum. Some members were defending Officer Robert Powell while a few condemned him. (Note: not all members are cops, and it’s not an official DPD web site.)

This is what I ended up saying, with a few line edits here since the original I wrote from my iPhone.


Officer Douchebag

Officer Douchebag

I don’t think Officer Robert Powell would want to be treated like he treated Ryan Moats.

I don’t think anyone here would want a family member treated like that. Imagine you’re critically injured on duty, and a family member is rushing to your side, distraught enough not to think to tell the officer who stops him that the relative he’s rushing to see is a dying cop.

By the way, in this hypothetical, if the relative did have the presence of mind to tell the officer his brother is a mortally wounded cop, most here would put him in their unit and break land speed records to get that relative to a dying fellow cop’s hospital bed. Or in this case rush him into the hospital, sparing him lectures about attitude and red lights at empty intersections in the middle of the night. Tell me otherwise. I dare you.

Now remember that not everyone’s relative is a cop, but they love them just as much as any cop’s relative, and they deserve the same treatment and consideration as any other human being. Citizen or cop, that’s what we all are.

Moats didn’t endanger any lives, didn’t drive like a maniac, and he didn’t do anything more than act like anyone else here would with a dying relative. He’s not in this for a payday, and he didn’t even file a complaint. All he did was get in the sights of a greenhorn on a power trip, whose piss poor judgment now has people blaming all of DPD for his own actions. That public perception — unfair though it is — isn’t helped by the knee jerk closing of ranks among some officers here sticking up for him, bad mouthing the Plano officer, griping about dash cams (which exonerate officers far more often than they condemn them) and making up [expletive] about Moats’ actions that night.

Kudos to those officers here brave enough to call Powell out for what he is, by the way.

“My tribe first” has its place, but not when it violates basic decency and justice. You remember justice, right? And the second part of “protect and serve” right? Service, not mastery. Mutual respect, not demands for obedience.

You can blame command, the media, and anything else the victim’s mentality conjures up as a rationalization. But Powell put his own head in the noose that night by acting not like a committed, responsible peace officer, but like a punk control freak out to prove he had a bigger nightstick. Powell screwed himself with his own choices. The public Powell serves — that pays his salary and entrusts him with the most serious and honorable charge of upholding both the law and justice — that public has every right to judge him.

Or are you going to tell me that officers, too, have rejected personal responsibility as a virtue? I don’t believe officers have, and I don’t want to believe it. The kind of men it takes to do that job aren’t cut from that shabby, blame-everyone-else, poor-little-victim-me cloth.

You really want a guy with Powell’s judgment and temperament representing DPD? You really want to reinforce that unfair meme that all cops are louts, brutes, and petty little ticket writers?

Those who stand up for Powell, by cowardly silence endorse him, or by tribal instinct close ranks with him do more disservice to the badge than all the media reports and command press conferences combined.

You lie down with dogs, you’re gonna get up with fleas.

Props to every officer, here and offline, man enough to break ranks and show they know justice and decency, and that expecting slave-like submission from the people they serve is not proper for free men in a just society.

Starting with the Plano officer who refused to let this incident get swept under the rug. That’s the kind of officer who gives police a good name.


  1. Doug says:

    Great response Trey!!!

  2. Bethany says:

    I agree!

  3. Brother Rat says:

    Very inspiring op-ed, and kudos to for such a prominent display on their editorial site. Your POV is sobering and soothing in the aftermath of this Moats/Powell incident. Your harsh words, and the harsh words of your columnists, seem to evoke the disappointment and raw emotions that Chief Kunkle couldn’t mention during his press conference.

    I’ve seen some police officers defending Powell in discussion boards both on and across the country (I’m in MA), and it reminds me very much of the way ranks can close among soldiers when one of their own is accused of some heinous act in the heat of battle (e.g., shooting a non-combant, etc.). I saw this in my time in the Army. Except that…in this case, it does not take some special, galvanizing experience to understand the circumstances. Who can’t understand Powell’ situation here? To whom is not patently obvious that Moats and his wife’s family are in an actual, honest state of crisis right here? With no weapons involved, no other folks around, no suspicious activity other than the blinkered red light roll-through, and frantic pleadings, this is not the battle of Fallujah here! Powell’s situation is transparent, plainly obvious to even his two little children.

    Unfortunately, I do believe that Powell’s poisoned judgment and abuse of his position cannot be screened for, and cannot be mitigated with briefings, training exercises, etc….for a lesser incident, maybe, but not for an offense so large. There are just bad apples out there! Sometimes, you can’t tell until thye’re put under stress or their flaws just burst out. And getting to serve the public in any capacity is a privilege, not a right–and in no role is that more true than in the law enforcment and public safety responsibilities of a police officer.

    Kudos, Trey.

  4. keith johnson says:

    “I’ve seen some police officers defending Powell in discussion boards both on and across the country…..” Brother Rat

    BR please trust me on this, not all Dallas cops support Powell’s outrageous behavior.

  5. shootER says:




  6. Rawlins Gilliland says:

    The saddest thing for me is the damage this has done beyond the story itself.

    Only two weeks ago on March 13th, I had a DMNews Op-Ed centerpiece about the Dallas Southeast Division Deputy Police Chief Patricia Paulhill that was a salute to the honor and dedication of a remarkable police officer who was among other things 1) the first female SWAT commander 2) African-American trailblazer vet hired in 1981. 3) Leader 4 years of the largest of Dallas’ 7 divisions and 4) responsible for Southeast being the next largest crime stat reduction in Dallas 2008.

    So my point? Highly placed Op-Ed. Huge photo of Chief Paulhill. Gets one letter to the editor published by readers. Officer Powell’s story created an avalanche of negative backlash overwhelming blog com box postings, etc.

    No one knows more than I the sleeze of rogue cops. I took two to court after a faked false arrest that makes Moats’ case look like the welcome wagon in Bible school…and won in a jury trial Feb.2006. I lost 2 1/2 yrs. of my life fighting those bastards and lost most of my hair from the stress. So I know bad cops when I see or hear them.

    I know great cops when I see them also. I saw one in the casket in January when I (as a private citizen) attended the funeral of slain gang unit Sr. Cpl. Smith. And I also know a real role model hero when I see one. And so I wrote about Patricia Paulhill and all she has done for so many for so long.

    But people are less interested in reading about heroes. They instead have an insatiable appetite for blood sport revenge-against-unjust-authority hot topics. And the shithead Powell delivered the red meat the lions prefer. And ironically most of those who pounced on this story… like a sailor on shore leave would a willing whore…. have never really met a horrible cop face to face. Their worst experience was getting a 84 mph speeding ticket on the N. Dallas Tollway.