Cop Troubles

“To insure the adoration of a theorem for any length of time, faith is not enough, a police force is needed as well.”   —Albert Camus

Former Detective Sergeant Stephen Coco in Court

The Union Leader reports today that another Police officer is under arrest. Fired Manchester Police Detective Stephen Coco is charged with two felony counts of conduct after an accident after Bedford Police allege he hit two teens with his police-supplied under cover vehicle and fled the scene. It would also appear that Coco lied when he told investigators he had been home the night of the crash and that no one had used his department issued undercover Nissan Pathfinder that evening.

And certainty followed with sixty-two comments to date, the same usual pejoratives and slurs against the Chief, Police Unions, a general notion of corruption. and same old name-calling. Some speculate Coco was intoxicated. Others called them, “Animals.” Still others took a moral high horse and some even engaged in a bit of class warfare. It’s all par for the course when a cop gets arrested.

The pressing question here is how is this put into perspective?  Fact is, Manchester Police have had a checkered history of officers finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong things, in these last few years. I think people get that it is occasionally going to happen…but not quite this occasionally…almost frequently, if you will.

There are roughly 300 Manchester Police Officers. roughly one to two find themselves in trouble every couple of years. It becomes pretty easy to poke them with a sharp stick, judge or take a moral position. Plainly stated, I find the whole matter…regretful.

At the end of the day this gravitates back to leadership and the moral compass of that leadership. The public face of Chief Mara, I have to admit, for me has not been an overly positive one. But his isn’t a new or novel or unique problem. Often times we should ultimately remind ourselves that if we want perfect police officers, simply stop hiring humans.

Moral compass is important for the leadership of a police force. I am talking about a clearly defined set of community policing values. A clear non-compromising sense of right and wrong. A strive for fairness, transparency and even handedness. I am not saying Manchester PD is not any of those things, but certainly they are plagued often by perceptions otherwise.

Certainly, the lame stream media plays a role in highly publicizing the bad behaviors of Police department personnel across the fruited plains. Soon to be released on May 7 is National Review Writer Kevin D. Williamson’s Book, The End is near and It’s going to be Awesome. Kevin states in his book that it can be hard to tell the good guys from the bad guy, providing this little snippet:

For more than twenty years, NYPD detectives worked as enforcers and assassins for the Gambino crime family;In 2006 two detectives were convicted not only of murder and conspiracy to commit murder but also on charges related to such traditional mob activity as labor racketeering, running illegal gambling rings, extortion, narcotics trafficking, obstruction of justice, and the like. This was hardly an isolated incident; only a few years prior to the NYPD convictions more than 70 LAPD officers associated with the city’s anti-gang unit were found to have been deeply involved in gang-affiliated criminal enterprises connected to the Bloods street gang. Their crimes ranged from the familiar police transgressions of falsifying evidence, obstructing justice, and selling drugs seized in arrests to such traditional outlaw fare as bank robbery — they were cops and robbers.

More than 100 criminal convictions were overturned because of evidence planted or falsified by officers of the LAPD. One scholarly account of the scandal concluded that such activity is not atypical but rather systemic — and largely immune to attempts at reform: “The current institution of law enforcement in America does appear to reproduce itself according [to] counter-legal norms . . . attempts to counteract this reproduction via the training one receives in police academies, the imposition of citizen review boards, departments of Internal Affairs, etc. do not appear to mitigate against this structural continuity between law enforcement and crime.”

 The Department of Homeland Security has existed for only a few years but it already has been partly transformed into an organized-crime syndicate. According to a federal report, in 2011 alone more than 300 DHS employees and contractors were charged with crimes ranging from smuggling drugs and child pornography to selling sensitive intelligence to drug cartels. That’s not a few bad apples — that’s an arrest every weekday and many weekends. Given the usual low ratio of arrests to crimes committed, it is probable that DHS employees are responsible for not hundreds but thousands of crimes. And these are not minor infractions: Agents in the department’s immigration division were caught selling forged immigrant documents, and DHS vehicles have been used to transport hundreds (and possibly thousands) of pounds of illegal drugs. A “standover” crew — that is, a criminal enterprise that specializes in robbing other criminals — was found being run by a DHS agent in Arizona, who was apprehended while hijacking a truckload of cocaine.

Indeed, Williamson gives us extreme examples of police departments that have spiraled out of control.  Take Nashua for example, ever wonder why one member of their police commission is appointed by the Executive Council? I guess you could say, Many years ago, Nashua came close.

Despite what the rank-and-file commentary asserts in the UL online, Manchester does not have a Police Corruption problem. At time it might look like that. But, ultimately, we see a Chief who comes off as apathetic, unresponsive and circling the wagons. If  Mara sticks around, perhaps he’ll work on that.