Sunday, January 2, 2011

When a cop breaks the Code

What really happens when a cop (or a deputy) breaks the Code of Silence?

There is no doubt that the Code exists. The Code is the silent agreement not to talk publicly about what happens at work. If you see something "bad" happen, do not talk about it away from the shop. Or even in the shop.

It's just something that officers learn. There is no "class" in basic training about it. You just pick up on it. Or you "get" the message when you see what happens, when another officer does speak out.

Ranks close up. The wagons get circled. That other officer is ostracized.

Watch the old movie Serpico again. Check out www.frankserpico.com. Serpico (born 4/14/1936) testified about corruption in the New York Police Department in 1971.

The same thing happens right here in McHenry County. You can see the evidence in the Letters to the Editors of local newspapers and in comments on the various blogs. Instead of asking, "Could this really be true?", many comments are written to discredit the cops who are blowing the whistles.

The McHenry County Sheriff's Department should have an Internal Affairs Division. An IAD must have credibility, and it must have the confidence of the officers. Officers must know that, if they take a complaint and evidence to the IAD, it will be investigated fairly.

What does a commander of an IAD do, if he gets a complaint about the top dog in the department? Is there an S.O.P. (Hello? What does CALEA have to say?) for going outside for additional investigating muscle?

10 comments:

Chet said...

Pull out your FOID pen and pencil set and check how many other departments have an internal affairs unit. This isn't Chicago with 10,000 plus officers. When things happen ,as they will, the IA duties are performed by supervisors that have the specialized training.

Plus there are little things like the CONTRACT and the Illinois Police Officers Bill of Rights which require the proper training so investigations are done properly.

In a perfect world there would be a huge budget, a pile of cash flush enough to provide such units. Besides an IA unit, there would be helicopters, crimes labs and sophisticated investigative equipment and 30-or 40 more deputies to be able to do some real police work, not just run from call to call.

To my knowledge this isn't a CALEA issue. Calea does set forth standards that complaints are to be investigated, but does not dictate any requirement for an IA unit. Buy the CALEA standards book Gus. It's available for purchase.

In theory you are correct that an integrity unit is a good thing, but fact is the justification for a full time unit isn't there. There are issues that need attention much more

But Seriously said...

Yes, many officers have an unofficial code where they have each others back, but I think most officers still are honorable to the extent they will cover for their fellow officer. This is complicated by the fact that most Police Departments have very strong unions that fight when Management try's to break through to discipline dishonest officers. But lets be clear, when an officers criticizes such and unofficial code saying his fellow officers are covering large crimes he is criticizing all of his fellow officers to a much greater extent than any political office holder.

Donna said...

Chet,
Specialized training? Where did you get THAT information? Not true.

Gus said...

Oh, you mean when the fox is minding the hen house?

Yeah, right... just go to your supervisor.

MR.Patato said...

Does the State Police provide that service?

Gus said...

Let me give you two examples of fine State Police work related to McHenry County.

1. When a complaint was called into the State Police about a big drinking party that deputies were going to have at the Washington Street Station, just outside Woodstock on Route 120, the district commander notified Sheriff Nygren and then-Undersheriff Lowery that their deputies had better be careful.

2. When a State Police investigator interviewed a sheriff's dept. employee believed to be in possession of the flash drive Amy Dalby had taken from her job in Lou Bianchi's office, he gave the employee some time to retrieve it from his (the employee's) safe deposit box. The employee "lost" the flash drive.

MR.Patato said...

So who ya gonna call, Ghostbusters?
Sounds like the Statte cops are as bad as the rest.

This may be a stupid question but can't the State's Attoney office investigate a complain against a police officer? Or the AG office? Someone should be required to make sure the cops are not doing illegal things. Who investigated the cops at The Cabin a couple years ago? I thought the State Police did that but lost some video tapes or some store clerk said some cop took video tapes and they never showed up. Was that a State Attorney Detective that supposedly got video tapes and then lost them?

Gus said...

I have a picture in my mind of Sam Spade showing up in his fedora and trenchcoat, asking for the videotape from the gas station or whatever across from KC's Cabin. He must have looked "official" because he got it. And disappeared with it.

Of course, somebody should be making sure that cops don't do illegal things. It starts with good supervision. But, if the supervisor is the "fox" watching the henhouse, that plan falls apart.

Justin said...

Does the term INTERNAL INVESTIGATION give you a clue. Another agency would only investiagte if it was a CRIMINAL investigation. By the way its POTATO....Even Dan Quale got that part right

Dee said...

PotatoEs was his screw up. I believe he told the school child there was no E. Not pAtato as you misspell it. Just call yourself Mr. Spud