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Should Pennsylvania Police Have Posed With Captured Fugitive?

After Pennsylvania police agencies found fugitive Danelo Cavalcante, some two dozen law enforcement agents gathered around the fugitive to pose for a photo, the New York Times reports. The moment, caught on camera by a news helicopter, was criticized on social media. Some observers thought it was not worth memorializing. Others said it was unfair to use Cavalcante, who appeared to remain expressionless, as an involuntary prop. Asked about the photo op, Lt. Col. George Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police said, “Those men and women work amazingly hard through some very trying circumstances. They’re proud of their work. I’m not bothered at all by the fact that they took a photograph with him in custody.” Similar questions have surfaced before. In 2021, a photo of white police officers and their dogs in Mississippi posing with a captured Black bank robbery suspect drew widespread criticism. In 2015, a Chicago officer was fired after a photo surfaced in which he and another officer, both of whom were white, posed with long guns, flanking a Black suspect wearing antlers. There are some parallels in the military, where the practice of capturing such moments is prohibited in part because the Geneva Convention shields prisoners of war from “public curiosity.” Still, it happens regularly, if quietly, in the Army and Marine Corps, both with live detainees and dead enemies.

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