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December 9, 2005 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Is every cop a criminal? At least 41 officers in the Tennessee Highway Patrol have a criminal record. Ranging from drunk driving and driving state vehicles without a valid license to assault and child abuse. Gov. Bredesen called for a comprehensive background check of the THP and was surprised by the "inherent cronyism" with the force. Further scandals have forced the Commander to resign and the interim Commander is under some doubt as well. Will this be the end of the Good 'Ole Boys in Brown?
posted by teleri025 (31 comments total)

 
I think the answer to your question is no. Why would you phrase a post like that? 41 officers out of 855 in one state isn't even near a majority. You can't even say 'are most cops criminal'. Are all accountants criminals? Are all priests pedophiles?
posted by spicynuts at 10:53 AM on December 9, 2005


You've got to figure that cops get away with a lot of stuff, too. After all, who's going to arrest them?

I'm still angry that police officers get cards to give to family which basically amount to "Get out of a ticket, free!" card.
posted by callmejay at 10:54 AM on December 9, 2005


I call shenanigans.
posted by Mikey-San at 10:55 AM on December 9, 2005


What spicynuts said.
posted by brain_drain at 10:56 AM on December 9, 2005


I'm getting tired of the background check reveals... meme. If a person convicted of a single crime can't get a decent job 20 years afterwards what incentive do they have not to commit any more crimes?
posted by 517 at 10:58 AM on December 9, 2005


What 517 said.

and...

I would be concerned with 'murder' 'drug dealing' and 'grand theft'. You're talking about MISDEMEANORS here.
posted by IronLizard at 11:01 AM on December 9, 2005


That's why we need to start shooting criminals on the spot.
posted by spicynuts at 11:01 AM on December 9, 2005


If a person convicted of a single crime can't get a decent job 20 years afterwards what incentive do they have not to commit any more crimes?

In general, I agree with you, but I would expect law enforcement to have higher standards than other jobs when it comes to criminal history.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:01 AM on December 9, 2005


Is every cop a criminal?
No.
And all the sinners are not saints.
posted by Floydd at 11:02 AM on December 9, 2005


After all, who's going to arrest them?

Are you kidding me? Ever hear of the god dam IAB? Internal Affairs? Hey guess what, they've got two cops on trial here in NYC for being mob hit men. I'm assuming it was the cops that arrested them.
posted by spicynuts at 11:03 AM on December 9, 2005


What's wrong with drug dealing? Legally you can charge someone as a drug dealer if they have more then a ridiculously small amount.

DUI is worse then drug dealing, IMO, and if you'd read the FPP you'd see things like child abuse were involved.
posted by delmoi at 11:03 AM on December 9, 2005


At least if they have a criminal record they might have some sympathy.
posted by delmoi at 11:04 AM on December 9, 2005


So, yeah, the post definitely overstates it's case.

I think the real question here is do (some) cops get away with behavior not tolerated in general populace? I'd say that answer is pretty clearly yes.

As for one house cleaning doing away with the GOB network, that's pretty wishful thinking. Thousands of years and thousands of reforms and purges haven't made any significant headway, I doubt this one will be any different.

Stable industrial societies have all been, to some degree, fascist, police states. Get used to it.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:06 AM on December 9, 2005


Personally, I'd rather have officers with some experience of the law from the 'other side', so to speak. I don't mean actively corrupt, and I think any violent felony should automatically disqualify someone, but... hey, if someone got busted for possession or shoplifting when they were young, I don't think that should invalidate their ability to be police officers later.

Holding them to a high standard once they are officers makes excellent sense. But if we accept only 'perfect' people as cops... well, I think you have to be a little crazy to conform 100% to this society. (or, probably, ANY society.)

We should be looking for good people, not perfect ones.
posted by Malor at 11:08 AM on December 9, 2005


spicynuts, what I was going for here was to highlight the sense of outrage the governor and politicians seem to have about this. Not that all cops in TN are bad, or that 41 out of 855 is a majority. What's interesting to me about this story is that so many people are shocked and appalled that troopers have used their influence to get charges dismissed, to purchase seized materials, and even if they are forced to resign due to bad behavior, they are allowed to be rehired after a short time.

Also, the charge that's really making me raise an eyebrow is this one:
The list includes Trooper Gregory Badacour, who was charged last year in Nashville with filming a couple engaging in sexual activity.

Again, not because I'm passing judgement on the trooper, merely because it's a damn odd charge.
posted by teleri025 at 11:11 AM on December 9, 2005


Is every cop a criminal?

No, but every cop's a thug. I don't care if a cop has a non-violent, non-theft criminal record. I just care that they serve and protect only the rich.

So I take it back-- every cop is a criminal because every cop is there to prevent social change.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:19 AM on December 9, 2005


Is every cop a criminal?

is every mefite a moron?
posted by quonsar at 11:20 AM on December 9, 2005


yes, all cops are criminals and we must get them off the streets as soon as possible!
posted by mcsweetie at 11:20 AM on December 9, 2005


what I was going for here was to highlight the sense of outrage the governor and politicians seem to have about this.

Gotcha...I think it could have been phrased better, then. Particularly for the first link/sentence of the post.
posted by spicynuts at 11:22 AM on December 9, 2005


is every mefite a moron?

Good Lord, we try. We try.
posted by JeffK at 11:32 AM on December 9, 2005


mcsweetie : "all cops are criminals and we must get them off the streets as soon as possible"

But not into the wrong houses.
posted by Gyan at 11:36 AM on December 9, 2005


You're talking about MISDEMEANORS here.

And also felonies. And troopers committing crimes while on duty. And troopers with suspended or revoked driver's licenses. And personnel records that have been illegally altered. And troopers buying promotions from the governor. And the head of the highway patrol promoting his own sons over more qualified people. And so forth.

Obviously, the key question here is: should troopers be allowed to fix tickets in exchange for free meat?
posted by naomi at 1:48 PM on December 9, 2005


Yes, I would never worry about speeding and endangering the lives of everyone on the road with me again. Thanks to some dead cow.

I didn't see anything in the article about felonies, where did you get that?
posted by IronLizard at 3:03 PM on December 9, 2005


I didn't see anything in the article about felonies, where did you get that?

See the first paragraph of the first article:

The TBI recently checked the criminal history of every state trooper, and they found 48 troopers have criminal histories. Several were charged with felonies.

From the second article:

Documents released yesterday showed that officers had been accused of such crimes as assault, grand larceny, drunken driving, drug possesion, burglary and child abuse . . .
posted by brain_drain at 3:19 PM on December 9, 2005


I've lived in TN for almost 30 years and have*ahem*come in contact with a number of law enforcement agencies during that time (as a young miscreant and then later as a lawyer). The TN State Troopers are the least scary group of law enforcement officers I've come in to contact with which, based on this revelation, is scary. If the "good guys" have this problem you've got to wonder what kind of records the bad guys have.
posted by Carbolic at 4:49 PM on December 9, 2005


Charged with. Convictions anywhere? I don't think so. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? They simply didn't get the charges expunged. Silly mistake.

Seriously, police officers, due to their positions, are also targets of false accusations quite often. Condemning their due to a false accusation would be a mockery of the justice system.
posted by IronLizard at 4:50 PM on December 9, 2005


Condemning their jobs, I meant.
posted by IronLizard at 4:50 PM on December 9, 2005


Carbolic, I completely agree with you about the THP. I've been pulled over and harassed by waaaaay more local cops, specifically in a middle Tennessee college town just east of Nashvile, than I've ever been harassed by Troopers. In fact, I'd almost always rather deal with a trooper than a local police.

That's part of what I find slightly amazing, not that cops are being bad, but that the cops I've always considered closer to honest are being *this* bad. Damn, I'd be afraid of what an investigation of many city and county police departments would turn up.
posted by teleri025 at 5:52 PM on December 9, 2005


Is every cop a criminal?

is every mefite a moron?
posted by quonsar at 11:20 AM PST on December 9 [!]


All we need is encouragement!
posted by Balisong at 6:33 PM on December 9, 2005


luckily I have a valid license to assault
posted by atrazine at 6:36 PM on December 9, 2005


I'm still angry that police officers get cards to give to family which basically amount to "Get out of a ticket, free!" card.

Actually, that is a good point. It is a small step toward an attitude that puts them above the law, that they, and some other people, will get special treatment under the law. I am sure it started out innocuously enough, but at least here in Jersey it has been honed to a finely tuned system. Policing is a matter of honor and integrity and this system of allowing one group friendly to the police to ignore minor laws demeans the honor and integrity of the force. I sure liked it when I got off, but it is still wrong. It is so ingrained that it would be impossible for a mere police chief to change the system. It would take a change in the law. When I bring this up with people they often think it comes from some sort of Eagle Scout, Beaver Cleaver mentality, but I was no Eagle Scout. Put simply, pride and integrity matter. Small matters of pride and integrity play into the larger matters. Police forces always struggle with how to keep their officers clean and attending to these small things is an important first step. It is kind of like the broken window theory. If it is OK to let a select group off from tickets, then perhaps it is OK to look the other way when an old bud is dealing drugs in the neighborhood, especially if he tosses a few bills your way every now and then, and then perhaps you get a little more organized in taking money for looking the other way. Perhaps you just don't say anything when you see a fellow officer taking a few bills to keep quiet and you certainly don't step on his toes by busting the guy who is paying him. and so it goes.

When you tell a group that they are honorable and ethical, and then hold them to it, usually they will be. However, if you then let them break this code for friends and family you have opened a crack. Sometimes it gets wider. This system should be abolished, and the blue wall of silence also needs to be broken. It would ultimately improve the police force.

OK, enough ranting.
posted by caddis at 6:39 PM on December 9, 2005


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