I have had close to 37 years in police work. I spent 23 years in the New York State Police, nine years in a sheriff’s office and the rest in two local police departments. I spent 23 impeccable years as a State Trooper with 13 years of it in supervision. Because of my years in infra-structure management at the State level, a local sheriff hired me as an undersheriff or number two position in a local county sheriff’s office.
The main reason the sheriff hired me was to have a supervisor with skill and knowledge in different levels of management to look at perceived police abuse in the local sheriff’s office. I began my new career as an undersheriff, believing integrity is a mainstay virtue in police services. After a few months becoming acclimated with my new department and personnel, the sheriff urged me to look at the department’s accountability and evidence procedures. The member in the department he suspected of possible wrong-doings was the number three person in the department in supervision.
I approached my job with objectivity feeling I would not uncover any issues. After several months of investigation, I found that the sheriff’s concerns were valid, and that alot of valuable property recovered by the deputies and stored at the sheriff’s office was being “destroyed” instead of returned to the rightful owners by the Deputy-in-charge of the sheriff’s office. I was even able to locate a witness or member of the department that witnessed property being stolen at night from the department. I relayed all of my investigation to the sheriff, but action was never taken against the involved employee. I believe the sheriff felt the employee involved was too powerful politically in the county, and the sheriff’s position was an electable position.
In fact, further investigations into questionable conduct led me to a deputy who was investigated several times for alleged gun thefts from unattended deaths. This deputy was close friends of the Deputy-in-charge in the department associated with the evidence issues I previously investigated. The deputy had resigned from another out of state police agency for alleged thefts before joining this sheriff’s office, and he used to chime to other members “one felony and two misdemeanors and no convictions”, bragging how he has beaten the system.
Members of the sheriff’s office complained for years to the sheriff of abuses and poor leadership by the #3 member of the department to no avail. He was removed from most jobs including evidence custodian and swat commander, but the sheriff allowed him to continue in the #3 position.
All of my years in police work and working against the criminal element to protect our citizens made me naive as to the police abuse that was allowed to survive and go unchecked in some departments like the sheriff’s office. I was powerless to act as the sheriff deciding to handle it internally.
Finally, nine years later, the sheriff retired and I witnessed the final act of irony in regards of police abuse. The deputy I mentioned possibly involved in unattended death thefts was caught and dismissed.
In conclusion, I now believe that police are held accountable for their actions. I’m kidding, of course.