Sunday, May 08, 2005

Police Ethics, an Oxymoron?

There was an interesting article in the News-Leader this week about how Springfield police chief Lynn Rowe felt it necessary to bring in an outside consultant as "a second pair of eyes" to watch over a rather sticky internal affairs matter at SPD. Internal affairs is investigating how the routine drug bust of Mayor Carlson's son, Thomas, was put on a fast track so that the results from the state crime lab would beat the April election deadline. There was no apparent reason why a routine investigation like this would warrant fast track status.

Mayor Carlson, who had opposed a police pay increase in recent months, has not been a favorite over at headquarters, and county prosecutor Darrell Moore smelled something fishy when he received a probable cause statement the day before the mayoral election. He elected to withhold charges for a couple of weeks, and Carson easily won re-election.

Chief Rowe was clearly rankled by Moore's insinuation that somebody over at SPD headquarters rushed the lab results in order to sway the April mayoral election. An internal affair investigation ensued, but apparently Rowe felt his own department was incapable of producing an impartial report. So, enter Steve Rothlein, number two man with the Miami-Dade County department.

Let's get this straight. SPD is having an internal investigation that may involve improprieties and unethical acts within the SPD, and we're bringing in somebody from Miami to make sure everything smells right? Pardon me while I guffaw. I don't know which is worse, the obvious intention to sway an election or Chief Rowe's ridiculous attempt to bring credibility to the investigation by adding another layer of bullshit.

Of course, the guy from Miami won't be involved in the actual investigation. Rowe isn't trying to suggest that his own Internal Affairs office is too corrupted to issue an honest report on this matter. "The fact that we're bringing someone in from the outside does not speak at all to my confidence in our own staff's ability to do this," he reassures.

No, Rowe just doesn't want to appear as "judge, juror and executioner", which translates to "I just want to make sure my own rosy ass is well-covered." And what does this guy make a year?

Rothlein, for his part, assures us that he will not be a "rubber stamp" in this investigation. "I'm not going to risk my reputation for that."

Shew! What a relief. This complete stranger from Miami will not be risking his reputation while visiting our fair city. But then, why risk anything for a measly $7,100, which is the maximum payment provided for his non-rubber stamp of approval?

Yup, like every other blue-clad individual involved in this matter, his reputation remains intact.

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