Actions of a few tarnish the rest
Published 9:18 am Tuesday, May 5, 2015
It reminded me of a front page from the roaring 20’s…where reports of police corruption ran rampart back in the days when Mafia families ruled.
Crimes of extortion, attempted possession/distribution of controlled substances, money laundering, bribery, and use and carry of firearms during and in relation to crimes of violence and drug trafficking offenses could certainly not happen here among our law enforcement community.
But they did…at least by what the FBI is now saying.
As a longtime news reporter, nothing normally shocks me, especially in this day and time – a period where the world is going to Hades faster than Hillary Clinton can hide an email.
The indictments and arrests of 13 local lawmen last week, including five current (well, at least “current” up until Friday) Northampton County deputies and one member of the Windsor Police Department, rocked my little world.
These were men and women I personally knew….and trusted. I had worked closely with a few of the Northampton deputies….we greeted each other by our first names. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever imagine they were allegedly involved in criminal activity.
As I scanned the wording contained in each of the 54 indictments, it was like I was dreaming. Not that something like this has ever happened before, but when I read those other stories they always dealt with law enforcement officers in bigger cities. Now it’s happened here, right in our backyard and the people involved in these allegations of police corruption are our friends, our neighbors, men and women we see on a regular basis.
What hurts the deepest is the fact that we placed our faith and trust in them to “protect and serve” us…the common, everyday citizens. If these allegations stand up in a court of law, it seems the opposite will have taken place.
What hurts as a Northampton County native and taxpayer is the fact that part of my hard-earned money was helping to pay the salaries (up until Friday) of those who now stand accused of these crimes.
But what hurts even more than all of the above is thinking of what else has not yet been revealed.
If these men and women were the target of an FBI sting operation, then the Feds knew that the hands of these particular officers had been dirty prior to 2013 (when the FBI investigation began).
According to the press release sent out Thursday of last week by the United States Department of Justice, the investigation into police corruption in Northampton County was spearheaded by information received by the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office which was then passed on to the FBI. Simply stated that means there were allegations of corruption prior to 2013.
What cases are previously involved? Will the FBI’s current probe go any deeper to reveal just how far back these cases go? Will all investigations/arrests/court proceedings made by the officers involved over the course of their law enforcement careers have to be placed under a microscope by our judicial authorities?
Is there any connection between these officers and high-profile, yet unsolved, cases in Northampton County? I’m going to stop short of identifying those particular cases…I think the regular readers of our newspaper can figure out the direction I’m going here.
I hope and pray none of my suspicions hold true. It’s bad enough now as it is. If the “sting” bites any deeper, the public’s faith in those who carry a badge and gun may never again be the same.
Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 252-332-7207.