U.S. citizens have a reputation of being “ugly American tourists.” Not that citizens of other countries don’t have their own embarrassing moments when in another country (here are the nationalities of the “worst tourists,” as per several international publications). But overall, with some Americans having the tendency to be loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, ignorant, tacky, and ethnocentric, we tend to be “up there.”
Regardless of country of origin, social faux pas when traveling overseas is usually because we haven’t learned the social and cultural norms of the countries we’re visiting (here are some you may not have known about). But some members of the LAPD just made a blunder that was of such epic proportions that they caused an internal investigation, and, according to a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, had the potential of causing an international incident. To say nothing of the fact that they really, REALLY should have known better.
So what happened? Two Los Angeles Police Department officers made a wrongful arrest about 5,700 miles outside of their jurisdiction.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore and Assistant Chief Robert Marino were in France in mid-November as part of a week-long business trip. They were part of a larger group of police officers who were meeting with French law enforcement officials regarding security for the Summer Olympic Games, which are scheduled to be held in France in 2024, and in Los Angeles in 2028.
Moore and Marino were in Marseille with their wives (who were allowed to accompany their spouses as long as they paid their own way) and other LAPD officers (who were acting as their respective security details), along with several members of the French National Police. The group had just left a restaurant when they became in very close contact with a group walking down the street. A male member of the group bumped into Marino’s wife, who then proceeded to accuse the man of stealing her cellphone.
As per the Los Angeles Times, the security detail accompanying Moore immediately chased after the man in question and detained him. However according to French police, they and local authorities quickly discovered the man was innocent and hadn’t taken anything from the Assistant Chief’s wife.
The man and the group he was with made complaints with French police following the incidents, They, in turn, notified the U.S. consulate.
“When law enforcement officers leave the country, they don’t have any authority, even in other states,” Brian Higgins, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in New York, was quoted by VICE News. “They were outside their jurisdiction, they don’t have authority, and they were completely wrong.”
Higgins even went as far as to suggest that the encounter could have become an international incident.
“I would have been a lot more sure of the allegations before you made an action,” he said. “Even if it was in the U.S., you should have been more sure. But to do it when you’re in another country during what we can call diplomatic efforts, it’s obviously embarrassing.”
Chief Moore has issued an apology for what he’s called “the unfortunate incident” to both French and US officials in Marseille. He’s also ordered an internal investigation into the circumstances of the mishap.
Feature Photo: LAPD/Facebook (officers in the photo are not the ones described in the story above)
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