Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Cop's Dilemma

A deputy was charged with Murder 2 recently, and it made me wonder if it could have been avoided. I've been told that the Sheriff had been told numerous times that Chris was a problem. However, since he was connected, he didn't get the behavior modification he should have. If that is true, Mark - you better get your checkbook out.

What do you do if you are a cop and you see another doing some pretty stupid stuff? Not criminal stuff, but stuff that is "on the edge." Who do you tell? If you tell your supervisor, it may filter up, or you may be telling the other guy's best friend. Suppose your supervisor is doing weird stuff? The troops talk amongst themselves, but there is no way for one to get information up to management that really needs to be sent up. If you tell something, and others find out, you are no longer on the "team".

In my 30 plus years, I saw some officers do some stupid stuff, and if I felt it warranted, I spoke directly to them about it. But, I've learned I'm a little different. I never felt the need to be in the click, so I did what I felt necessary. I never saw another officer do anything criminal, and any time I saw an officer starting to be too hard on someone, I pulled them off. But, that's obviously not happening these days.

I think there needs to be some way of bringing bad behavior to an officer's attention, and I'm starting to think the best way is for the officers to self police. Maybe officers need to post something somewhere (on an anonymous blog) when they see one of the ranks screwing up? Then again, that would open things up for someone to trash another officer. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I think this is a valid question. What do you think? Do you have any ideas on how this could be handled?

I would be more than willing to host a blog and moderate it for the officers in and around the area, if they wanted a site like that. Let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

That’s a tough one, John. I’ve tried to do a blog piece on that but can’t get anywhere. You (and I) know along with anyone who came in contact with him Chris was wound way too tight and this was bound to happen to some degree sooner or later. In THIS case, some of his fellow deputies should have spilled the beans. Arguably, if they had Chris might be mad at them, but maybe he wouldn’t be facing a long jail term and the end of his career.

The real problem is this: If an officer does tell the higher ups about a problem officer, how does the agency react? Do they ignore it until something like this happens, or do they simply throw the officer under the bus to save their own skin? Or do they try to get the officer the help he needs with privacy and compassion? Unfortunately, we also both know (1) and (2) are the norm in most agencies. There also has to be a mechanism in place to make the reporting officer feel like he did the right thing both for himself and the officer he or she is concerned about. That’s a tough question.

The blog idea is good, but there would be sadly a lot of unwarranted bashing going on.

John Harvey said...

I think the blog could work, and I would certainly filter anything that was too over the top. I might even contact the officer who is being complained on, prior to posting. I don't have all the answers, but I think this is something that needs to be addressed. When I first hired on, I heard about another officer who had pulled a pistol on a fellow officer and stuck it in his face, threatening to kill him for being a snitch. I had only been on a few months, so I didn't say anything. Later, if I had heard something like that I would have passed it up the food chain.

Several years later, I encountered one of our officers riding with some people, in a bad part of town, and I passed that up to IAB. I didn't make any judgements on that, other than, I thought the department needed to know, and this guy might have been involved with drugs. It turned out, he is actually a very good officer, he just has a "different" lifestyle.

Feel free to pass this idea along and have other officers post/comment on this issue. Maybe we can come up with a workable solution.

Ganja Blue said...

Self policing the police absolutely doesn't work. I think that the police officers that protect citizens against violent criminals do a commendable job.

However, without public accountability, some officers are wooed to bend or break the law. Unfortunately we see the thin blue line draw around these wayward officers. This is detrimental to society for two reason. First, you have someone abusing their power with the authority of government backing them. Secondly you have a loss of public trust of our justice system.

I'm not even saying that some police are bad people. The pressures of the job, home life, and a huge financial incentive to be involved with vice crimes sometimes draws people, in weak moments, do do things they wouldn't normally do.

Police would do well to turn in their brethren that cross that line. Your reputation depends on it.

The public must do it's part, too. They must demand accountability. They also should work to remove the financial incentives of corruption. Eliminated the drug war would eliminate the black market and the financial incentives that the underground economy provides.

The Agitator has some excellent comments on the subject.

Anonymous said...

all i know is that this city is going to the snakes. not dogs. dogs are better than some of these people i read about. i think we need alot of undercover cars driving around constently. just by looking at the cyber-watch at work i see more thefts near and at 5100 poplar. why can't they stick a bunch of undercover cars around this area and nab these pieces of crap! i am a very mad citizen here and am sick of it. being a woman even makes me madder since i am a perfect target. please mpd do something to stop all this crime....please please please!

John Harvey said...

I feel your pain anonymous. I can remember a safer time. However, we are making some progress with our programs having an impact. Serious crime was down over 4% last year, with murders down 11%. It is still trending downward, so far this year. Blue Crush, CyberWatch and some of the strategies we are implementing at the RTCC are all having an impact. We will also be putting some other measures in place within the next six months that will have a major impact on crime in Memphis. The problem isn't making the arrests. We do that, as do all the other law enforcement agencies, but the courts catapult them back into society as fast as they can. That is where we need some changes.

Anonymous said...

SOMETHING needs to be done! Some officers think they are above the law. "THE TRUTH HURTS" is right....officers do not want to "rat" on other officers for fear of what will happen.

Hell, I could not even get IAB to help me after my MPD officer husband had other officers plant drugs on me and have me falsely arrested for 'intent to sell'. Other officers knew...but NOONE would talk. Code of Silence

Fortunately, the officers were busted on insurance fraud and ALL the lies came out.

This is gonna cost $$$$ too. I am NOT taking a settlement - we are going to court. This has got to change.

Officers should not feel punished for self policing and reporting other officers.

I also think MANDATORY counseling would not hurt. Officers should have PSYCH counseling on a regular basis to ensure they dont "Crack" one day. If it is mandatory, then no ONE officer would be penalized for seeking help.

The MPD is at WAR every day on the streets.... When our military troops come back from war, they receive PSYCH evals and counseling before they are integrated back into their "normal" lives. What about our officers? What is done for their mental well being???!!

NOTHING, unless they ask for it of course. We all know how often THAT happens.....

I truly hope something changes....my lawsuit is just the start. I dont want to just sue them - I WANT CHANGE!!!

Thanks for letting me vent!! =)