July 9, 2017

The protection of problem cops

A Detroit Free Press investigation found:
  • A stunning recurrence of problem cops left on the street because they are protected by a system of city officials, labor arbitrators or sympathetic chiefs who don’t end officers’ careers when given the chance. This allows them to move to other communities with no state intervention.
  • Police officers are among the most protected public employees in the state. Laws, unions, judges and city leaders where the cops work often shield their disciplinary records and, in some cases, basic information like their names. Judges overseeing civil lawsuits routinely agree to seal records.
  • Poor communities, some with heavily minority populations, are magnets for problem cops. In competition with more affluent communities, these departments lose out, in part, because jobs are sometimes part-time and lower paying. The Detroit enclave of Highland Park, for example, has employed a litany of these types of officers. 
In the wake of the Melendez episode, the Free Press investigated the departments that hired him, then branched out to other departments who have harbored problem cops. Reporters dug through court files, gathered documents from agencies, mined old news stories and sparred with cities that refused requests for public records about officers. The investigation — which sought information from more than 50 agencies, primarily in southeast Michigan — pinpointed about two dozen officers, many of whom jumped from department to department in recent years like Robocop.

The officers were involved in misconduct, including having sex on duty and crimes like assaults. Here’s a sampling:
  • The officer involved in an off-duty crash where he left the scene after severely injuring a motorcyclist. That cop was charged criminally and fired from Southgate, and then landed another police job.  
  • The officer who lit up his own partner with a Taser in Hamtramck — while she was driving their patrol car. Hamtramck forced him out, but that didn’t stop him from hiring on somewhere else.  
  • The deputy in Oakland County whose conduct during a narcotics investigation led to his firing and prosecutors dropping 17 criminal cases. The deputy landed another job.  
  • The officer who repeatedly had sexual relations with a female college student while he was supposed to be patrolling the streets of Ferndale. The suburb rid itself of him, but cut a deal that allowed him to work elsewhere.
  • The deputy in Eaton County who resigned following an aggressive run-in with a motorist that was caught on video, then was hired by another sheriff's office aware of the earlier incident.


Anonymous said...

This sounds just like the whole abuser priest problem the Catholic Church has been finally gotten into hot water for. Just send the abusive a__hole to a new jurisdiction, and let him keep doing what he's been doing with no discipline or sanction. Police are one of the worst, because they are given too much power in their localities. They don't even loose their jobs when they murder unarmed people, usually people of color, poor, or mentally ill.

I'm sick of power structures that protect their members from accountability and the consequences of their crimes whether in uniform or out of it.

greg gerritt said...

Micjk Jagger had it right. Every cop is a criminal. And all the high ranking offiecers in the departments that came up through the ranks are also criminals. Thick as thieves. With crime stats down, maybe we needd a lot fewer cops.