Friday, March 12, 2010

Merit Board Earns Demerits for Deplorable Jefferson Decision

If you were the manager of a restaurant or grocery store and you learned your employee stole $500 worth of steaks, would you have that employee prosecuted for theft? Maybe. But maybe not if they made restitution. But would you fire that person? Oh, no doubt.

In truth, the industry, job title, or stolen item wouldn’t matter. A bank teller or church secretary with cash or tithing money, a construction worker with job-site tools, a Walmart greeter with shopping carts, or an office manager with boxes and boxes of Post-It notes. There is no industry where an employee isn’t on the bricks the moment he’s proven dishonesty through theft.

Save one.

The one where honesty matters more than in any other position – policeman with IMPD.

In August of 2009, Bobby Jefferson, a two-year member of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) arrested an illegal immigrant possessing a lot of cash. Jefferson wrote up a report saying he confiscated $3,700. But Jefferson later amended his report later to reflect that he had taken $4,200. In other words, Jefferson probably realized what would happen if the suspect started talking about his missing $500. (The immigrant was ultimately deported on a battery charge).

Jefferson was immediately suspended. Former IMPD Chief Michael Spears wanted him canned, a position supported by new chief Paul Ciesielski and the local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). You read that right. The FOP wanted their own guy gone because they realized how having a bad apple in the bunch spoils it for everybody (take note, Democratic Party).

But police discipline has to go through a Civilian Merit Board, and even though Jefferson was found guilty of theft and found to have violated 9 of 10 departmental rules, the Board would not approve his dismissal.

Attorney Mike Morken and Jeff Oberlies voted to terminate, but John Burns, Frank Miller, Catherine Ross, and Joe Slash, former deputy mayor under Steve Goldsmith, voted to just suspend Jefferson without pay for six months.

Slash stated, “"The majority of the board came to the conclusion that we did not want to fire this guy. We wanted to give him an opportunity to salvage his career."

Are you (expletive) kidding me? Salvage his career!?! The guy should have been prosecuted criminally, and he should have been grateful all he got was fired. But now he’ll go back on duty and instead of having all its personnel focusing on making high quality arrests that might actually reduce violent crime, the department will have to babysit this guy.

Where the trustworthiness of every officer is so crucial, how could these four individuals be so insanely short-sighted? Didn't you read his job title? He's a police officer. How can you deter others from similar conduct when they know they won't even lose their job?

I’m not sure which of the board members were elected by the officers and which were appointed by the Mayor, but were I the Mayor, I’d be telling those four right now to enjoy their last term.

Will he?

UPDATE: Republican City-County Councillor, Ben Hunter, the chair of the Public Safety committee, has vowed to investigate why Jefferson was not fired.



varangianguard said...


Mayor Bumble can't seem to walk and chew gum at the same time. Since he's focused on the Water Company deal, I doubt one petty thief in the police ranks registers a blip on his buffet-dar.

Anonymous said...

That is, quite simply, shocking.

erin said...

Wow. Police powers give law enforcement the authority to do things that are otherwise clear violations of both the constitution and criminal codes. These powers are only supported by the public because of the implied assurance that officers use these powers for the maintenance of law and order and to protect citizens. If this officer had just robbed someone as a private citizen, he should be fired in my opinion. But, the fact that he was seizing property in his role as an officer takes it to another level. Horrible decision by the board.

Anonymous said...

Why is anyone surprised? Carl Brizzi is the prosecutor! HELLO?

Anonymous said...

Wonder what he's got on these guys. Sumpin stinks.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Let's try to make sure that Councilor Ben Hunter keeps his vow re this scuzzy Jefferson decision. Demerits; do you think?