Should SFPD Officer Noel Schwab Be Allowed to Threaten to Break A Skateboarder’s Arm “Like a Twig?”

Skateboarding is largely a victimless crime. It’s unfortunate when I see the police threaten to break someone’s arm over it. These sorts of cops shouldn’t have a gun or badge. I hope SFPD Officer Noel Schwab (badge 2099) is disciplined over this incident and loses his job as a cop. It’s thugs like this that should not be given the privilege of policing our streets.

More from the SF Chronicle on this case here.

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25 Comments

  1. Mike G says:

    Agreed.

    The problem is just as bad with the NYPD. They’ve loosened up on skateboarding considerably now that longboarders have taken over the streets (poor roads require bigger wheels I guess).

    Now they have switched their aggressiveness to bikers.

  2. plug1 says:

    i dont know, man. this kid was provoking the officer. im not condoning the officers behavior, but clearly both sides made poor decisions here.

    you cannot, in fairness, place 100% blame on the officer.

    additionally, this video stinks of being staged. as in “hey you tape this, and ill fuck with that cop!!” “ok, dude — sickkkkk idea, lets do it”

  3. j dunn says:

    officer tough-guy is ‘being investigated by the police’ — so sadly, even with the video evidence, of course he’s off the hook — the ‘brothers-in-blue’ always protect one of their own, no matter how outrageous the behavior of one of their esteemed brothers. He knew the whole time that there would be no consequences for his outrageous action, note how he chided the bystander to ‘go ahead and file a complaint.’ In fact, his ‘brothers-in-blue’ probably consider him a hero — thankfully the world sees first hand what a pathetic power-tripping a55hole he is. I bet his family is so proud….

  4. Ignacio says:

    Im sorry TH, but I will dissent on this one…

    the Cop was as nice guy as he could have been…

    I’ve been a skater for over 4 years, and I always knew that most places in Argentina its ilegal to skate.. I did it anyways, but If a cop came in, the last thing I was going to tell him is to fuck off or tell him he is a fucking Dick.. most of the times an apology and then get away from the place will do it, cops know is ridiculous, but unfortunately its the law, and with respect you can get away even if you did something ilegal, and the cop will not loose time he could be using in something serious.

    that cop responded to a legitimate situation on legal terms and acted in a VERY polite way until that sucker started calling him names…

    something you must understand is that cops usually go trough a bunch of situation that you have no idea about, and their patience level is over the limit.. they show you respect until you stop showing respect…

    if he had actually broken his arm, that would have been a VERY different situation, but he didnt, and he actually stayed to talk in a very polite way, even if they attacked him with nonsense (whats that shit about the gun???)… they guy was doing something illegal (its pure shit that you can’t skate in public places, but its his job to proceed with the legal stuff, no matter how ridiculous it might be)

    if he didnt started calling him names, he wouldn’t had to take him to the car, and believe me, im sure he had better things to do than to convince a stupid guy to get into the car for hours… a kick will not kill anyone

    when its about cops, im right in the middle, I believe there is police abuse, but I believe that there’s citizen abuse too, and like in any situation, dont expect respect if you are not respecting anyone, plus you are doing something ilegal, knowing it, you should be apologizing to get out just with a statement of “don’t do it again because..” and “next time… etc” (believe me, I did it so many times, it works 99% of the cases)

  5. Rob-L says:

    The situation could have been handled better, but I gotta side with the officer on this one. If the kids were skating and it’s against the law the officer needs to do his job.

    To me the kid is more at fault for antagonizing the cops for doing that job. The kid was clearly in the wrong by skating to begin with, yet he wants to call the cop a “dick” for doing his job. What did he expect the result is going to be? If he would have remained civil and respectful he would have got nothing but a slap on the wrist. Instead, he had to act like a spoiled brat and now the cops are the bad guys. I don’t buy it. That kid has to take responsibility for his own actions and he was wrong across the board. No pity from me.

  6. Wonderlane says:

    From my written report to the SFPD:
    It is not against the law to call a police officer a “dick” or a “fucker” – this kind of language, while inappropriate, is clearly covered under freedom of speech. View : http://thomashawk.com/2009/10/should-sfpd-officer-noel-schwab-be-allowed-to-threaten-to-break-a-skateboarders-arm-like-a-twig.html

    SFPD Officer Noel Schwab requires further training on handling the citizens of San Francisco and our country.

    I would like to be notified that he is getting it, with an open heart. Email is fine.

  7. LM says:

    I think the cop was extremely patient. I do think his comment about breaking the guy’s arm was wrong but other than that he did a good job, IMO.

    I think the skater was just looking for his 15 minutes of YouTube fame. If the guy had just been respectful and kept his trap shut then he would have just gotten a citation rather than a trip to jail.

  8. Jordan says:

    Sorry Thomas, but I’m with the cop on this one. As others have said, the kid was being out of line and disrespectful. From what I can tell, the cop was likely going to give them all a warning. This one kid starts talking smack and that was enough for the guy to arrest the kid. An arrest is completely reasonable here (boarding is illegal), but that’s not what you’re questioning.

    We don’t know what kind of day the cop had (nor the kid), but I’m sure this, and every other, cop out there deals with enough little punks that their patience gets pushed. Sure, we’d prefer the cop to not threaten the kid, but I don’t blame him.

    And what’s with the idiots off camera talking trash to the cop? Zip it up!

  9. James says:

    They where both in the wrong and two wrongs don’t make a right. The fact is the kid was acting like a skater kid and the cop was acting like, well unfortunately a typical cop. The difference being the cop is a well paid public servant and should know better! The question is will he be taught a lesson, or are the citizens of SF going to accept paying the salary of a man who has been exposed as obviously have having a problem. I believe an example has to been made of him, otherwise other cops are just going to keep acting like this and worse. Is skateboarding really that big of a problem is San Francisco? I think not. If I am wrong show me the video of a city paid skate boarder threatening to break someone arm like a twig, for call them a name.

  10. JP says:

    You have to be a complete moron to talk like that to a cop. Should the cop have threatened to break the young man’s arm? Probably not, but that’s easy for us to say when we aren’t the one standing alone surrounded by a group of young men. He DIDN’T break anyone’s arm, and he probably decided to take an agressive stance like that to assert his authority. Did you expect him to let someone call him a f*ckin d#ck and say “You’re right. My bad. Move along kids and have a nice day”?

    I’d like to point out what the officer said in the video. He received a call from local residents complaining about skateboarders being a nuisance and vandalising cars. He came to HELP.

    The kid had no respect for authority and provoked the officer. For all we know, the kid had his friend turn on the video recorder and then tried to provoke the officer. I’m sure the officer regrets letting his buttons get pushed like that BUT…

    Are we going to cut the balls off our cops and then do what when they aren’t able to protect us any more?

    Is our society going to be a better and safer place to live if we turn on our police for “roughing up” a punk? If your life is in danger and you have to call 911, do you want the guy coming to help YOU worried about if he’s going to offend or say the wrong thing to the guy who is trying to harm you?

    I say let these guys crack some skulls if they need to. And no, I’m not worried about a cop doing something like that to me. I know my place when a police officer is talking to me.

  11. Erik says:

    The cop is an asshole. The skaters didn’t do anything wrong. No wonder most people I know think cops are scumbags.

    I’d sure prefer a skater in my family than a cop.

  12. skater854 says:

    This is ridiculous! The cop was doing his job. Plain and simple. Are we really going to get all upset about something so harmless. Really, is the skateboarder harmed in anyway? Maybe he will think twice next time when confronted with a similar situation. Yes, he really wasn’t doing something that terrible but I believe calling a police officer a dick when he is doing his job is wrong. I know, free speech. That doesn’t make it right. The skateboarder was in the wrong, not the cop. If he would have sat on that curb and showed some respect he would have been on his way. The guy yelling at the cop at the end should have been arrested too.

  13. Kelli Garner says:

    I enjoy this site, it is worth me coming back

  14. THiago says:

    How can people assume so fast that the skaters didn’t do anything wrong? The only evidence we have from the video is the cop saying he received a call from neighborhood, about skaters disturbing the peace and vandalizing cars (plus the evidence of them tampering with city infrastructure).

    I agree with JP on this one. Police brutality is one thing (believe me, I’m from a country where you think twice between actually calling the cops), but this is just a case of a law enforcement agent having to establish an aggressive posture in order to gain some leverage, given that he is outnumbered. By doing that, he’s actually preventing the situation to escalate to a point where physical violence might actually be needed. People sometimes forget that cop’s assess are ALWAYS in the line. How would YOU act if you had to work under that kind of pressure every day?

  15. common sense says:

    The dude bad mouthed the cop who was going to just warn him not to skate. He deserved everything he got.

  16. JP says:

    Thiago, my point exactly. We’ve all heard that the best way to handle a situation when you are outnumbered is to go up to the leader and punch him in the nose. That’s basicly all that happened here. The officers didn’t even have to resort to violence. Just the threat of potential violence kept the situation from getting out of hand.

    To all the people who think the officers shouldn’t have taken an agressive posture; how would YOU handle it if you were by yourself dealing with 4 or 5 young men (these were not 8 year old children)? One of them calls you a f@cking D#ck and you don’t react, they all take that as a sign of weakness and before you know it you’ve got 5 angry young men shouting insults and getting agressive with ONE cop. Sounds to me like someones about to get whacked in the face with a night stick in that situation.

    I think the way it was handled was just fine, and if anything I don’t think the cop should have explained himself to the citizen who questioned him forcing the skater into his patrol car with his foot. Oviously this wasn’t a “beat down.” Just a little tough stuff to hopefully teach this young man not to mess with cops anymore.

    What worries me about this whole video is that now those skaters have learned just the opposite lesson. You can break the law, vandalise cars, mess with city property and even curse out a cop if one shows up to stop you as long as you get a video camera running and can catch the cop doing something “not by the book.”

    We’re teaching these kids the wrong thing by standing up for them.

    Ever go into a public restroom and see all the crap scratched into the mirrors and written in marker on the walls? Well crap like that is never gonna stop if the jokers that do stuff like that aren’t intimidated by the authority of the police. YES YOU SKATERS. I’ve seen you doing it.

    Give this cop an award.

  17. Peachey says:

    To answer the question posed in the title of this thread “Should SFPD Officer Noel Schwab Be Allowed to Threaten to Break A Skateboarder’s Arm ‘Like a Twig?’” I say no he should not be allowed to do it.

    He should be given a warning by his superiors much like the police man was giving a warning to the skaters. If the policeman when given such warning called his superiors ‘fucking dicks’, then he should be fired from his job in the same way the skater should have been arrested once he thumbed his nose at a mere warning. If, however, the policeman had heeded the warning not to threaten other suspects with a broken arm, then he should be allowed to continue to do his job in the same way that the skaters would have been let go if they had taken their warning.

    It’s really ashame that people don’t seem to be willing to cut this policeman the same slack that he was willing to cut these law-breaking hoolagins. 🙁

  18. Ari says:

    I’m amazed at the number of people siding with the cop because the kid “wasn’t being respectful” while not the best response there is nothing illegal about being disrespectful to the police. If an officer can’t handle someone calling him a “dick” then maybe he shouldn’t be on the job.

    The officer was also incorrect, it is not against the law to skate in residential districts during daytime hours in San Francisco.

  19. Peachey says:

    Well, that’s because our society has gotten worse and worse over the years as people have begun to side with the hoolagins and rif raf over the police. I think people would like to live in a community where they won’t fall and break their legs because some skaters took the vent covers off the street. People want to go back to their cars after a day at work without finding a bunch of dents in it where skateboarders ‘wiped out’ and hit the car. People want to know that they are safe from crime because they know that kids learn at a young age not to break the law and screw with the police.

    Would you be happy if we just got rid of cops, Ari? Let’s just make it a free for all and see if you are happy then.

  20. Ari says:

    Of course the skater wasn’t arrested for denting cars but for skating in San Francisco, a questionable charge (I couldn’t tell where the skaters were in that video).

    Where did I imply we should get rid of cops? The officer is entrusted with more rights and responsibilities and should act in such a way.

    I’m also amazed at the amount of prejudice and name calling. Ironically many of the same people who think the skater should have shown respect and not called the officer a “dick” see no problem with calling the skater a ‘hoolagin.’

  21. […] 1 votes vote Should SFPD Officer Noel Schwab Be Allowed to Threaten to Break A Skateboarder’s Arm “Li… Skateboarding is largely a victimless crime. It’s unfortunate when I see the police […]

  22. Peachey says:

    You didn’t impy that we should get rid of cops. I simply asked you a question, which you did not answer.

    I’ll assume by your defensiveness that you would have answered “no” if had bothered to read what I had asked. In that case, then why suggest that he shouldn’t be on the job? He got angry, but never “lost it.”

    I applaud that the policeman decided to teach the young man that his actions have consequences. If you are suggesting that policemen should be infallible, that they can be expected to never get mad when a hooligan calls him a dick, then your are living in an imaginary world.

    And yes, I called him a hooligan again. By definition, it is a rowdy, unruly disrepectful youth. If you equate a term like that to a vulgar term used to describe the male genitalia, you are again living on another planet.

    As far as threatening to break the skater’s arm goes, it wasn’t so much a threat as a statement of fact. The whole reason a policeman grabs a person’s arm like that is to immobilize them. Hence the warning “if you resist me again I’ll snap your amr like a twig.” What are you people gonna say next? That cops aren’t allowed to say “stop or I’ll shoot?” That sounds like a threat according to you people. I don’t suppose you’d be in favor of cops breaking people arms, or shoothing them without giving them warning of the consequences of their actions.

    Let these guys do their jobs. It’s not like he threw the guy in the back of his squad car and took him to an abandoned warehouse to beat the crap out of him. Something like that is what we should be vigilant against. Not something like this.

  23. Rocjoe says:

    Hm. Another video where a lone cop is digging himself deeper and deeper. I never seem to see videos of two cops behaving badly. Maybe police should always go in pairs– you know, two heads are better than one.

  24. TranceMist says:

    Thomas, have you noticed that your blog as a very negative tone lately?

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