Police Officers of the Year, 2008

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Last year, we honored New Mexico police officer Sam Costales, for having the courage to testify in court to abuses by other officers, and was promptly punished for it.

This year’s award goes to former Vancouver, Washington police officers Navin Sharma and Chris Kershaw.

The Injustice in Seattle blog has their stories.

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27 Responses to “Police Officers of the Year, 2008”

  1. #1 |  perlhaqr | 

    Rules are the same in any gang, don’t snitch on your brothers, or they’ll rank you out.

  2. #2 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Why are public employees so private?

  3. #3 |  scott clark | 

    hmm, I am skeptical about these awards. Costales only spoke up after Unser’s defense team contacted him. If Unser wasn’t wealthy enough to get attorney’s who could hire PIs to do the digging, there might not have been any story. He didn’t come forward and report the abuse himself. He needed lots of prompting.

    And the current winners seem strange too. Here is Sharma, he seems a decent fellow, he blows the whistle on two dudes who did something at a presentation, we don’t know what they did, they get mad at him and he wins $750,000 in a settlement from the city for being harressed. He doesn’t take the settlement, instead he takes $287,000 and the promise to keep his job. What did he think would happen? did he honestly think the harressment would stop? I think he knew it wouldn’t stop, of course it didn’t stop, and he ended up with an even larger $1.6MM payday. The dude has looted the city of vancouver washington in my opinion. Holly Starr the dispatcher got some reward money too, $260,000 for reporting the abuses, maybe she can sort of parley that into being harrassed and getting a larger settlement down the line. Maybe this is the only way to get the city’s attention, to pown their treasury, but its not clear that their is anything the city can actually do to improve their police force, its not clear that citizens will even take notice, its just a real mess, and its a big problem that the only thing you have to do to win Radley’s police officer of the year award is just say what actually happened.

  4. #4 |  Michael Pack | 

    So Scott,you think honest cops should just go away?They seem to want to do their duty the right way.The sad part is the cities would rather be sued than fire bad officers.On the subject of 600,00 new federal jobs.Seems that means more laws and regulations to give these people something to do,along with more taxes and ‘fees’ to pay them.The federal government reminds me of a animal in ‘Dune’.It was a cross between a slug and pig,called ‘sligg’.It could eat in the front and produce waste in the back at the same time.

  5. #5 |  pegr | 

    I teach my kids that there is no such thing as an honest cop. Those that are tend to cover for those that aren’t, because “the system” pressures these “honest cops”. When you find one that goes against the grain, it’s the exception, not the rule.

    As for Scott suggesting an ulterious motive for the cop being “honest”, (that is, suing for big $$$,) well if the system weren’t a) rigged, and b) stupid, it wouldn’t work, now would it? So an “honest” cop worked the system to cash in big time? So effing what? He’s just better at it than the idiots he worked with! He’s still just as morally bankrupt as the rest.

  6. #6 |  scott clark | 

    I don’t think honest cops should go away, I am just skeptical about about this internet award ceremony for these cops for these type of incidents. I am afraid the city is in the position that it is better for them to be sued and for them to payout, then it is for them to pay and hire and train and monitor the police force so that it does a better job, any size group of people that have the authority that police have are going to start to have members who will get caught up in these types of behaviors. The mayor probably doesn’t care as much as he might if it were his money, the voters can’t get that worked up over it, you know the drill.

    And as far as the 600,000 new federal employees, that was from the other post, if you want to repost there.

  7. #7 |  scott clark | 

    pegr is right, when I said I don’t think honest cops should go away, I might just as well have said, I don’t think dragons and unicorns should go away.

  8. #8 |  Tritone | 

    “The dude has looted the city of vancouver washington in my opinion.”

    I’m glad he got so much money. Perhaps when the taxpayers start to realize that their corrupt leaders are costing them millions of dollars, they might, you know, DO something about it.

    If all politicians just thought “how many millions of dollars will this cost the county/city/state/country if I am a dick?” and acted accordingly, I think America would be a better place.

  9. #9 |  scott clark | 

    And it is a little hilarious that with this discussion of cops suing their employers for money, the google ad on the right says “Justice Pays.”

  10. #10 |  Packratt | 

    Scott,

    If you take a bit of time to also check the links provided you’d see that it wasn’t just the officers Sharma testified against but also his supervisors and city officials that took part in the harassment against him. This wasn’t just a couple officers getting back at Sharma for telling on them, it was an entire city government punishing cops who broke the blue wall of silence and would not be completely loyal to the city government.

    But, it’s not a unique situation. This actually happens quite often but behind closed doors. City officials often support the code of silence since it helps keep bad publicity away from their city… it allows them to sweep incidents of misconduct and corruption under the rug by use of quick settlements with non-disclosure clauses or even outright denials. When cases like Sharma’s and Kershaw’s pop up it’s a symptom of bigger problems and people should take notice.

    …because the same thing is likely happening in their town too and if you don’t support the few officers who do tell the truth about misconduct, you won’t have any left who will.

  11. #11 |  scott clark | 

    THis story is going to need some investigation.

    http://www.ktvu.com/video/18409133/index.html

  12. #12 |  scott clark | 

    Maybe I should be more clear. It sounds like you all think that I disapprove of Sharma’s actions, or that I somehow disagree with the outcomes of these cases. I don’t. I just think it is an abyssmally low bar to have to reach to be The Agitator “Police Officer of the Year.”

    Of course I want more cops to come forward and report unethical and abusive behavior. Of course I want entire department and the city’s that oversee them held accountable. I even hope that there are more officers like Sharma that get hired, even if it is just in the hopes that they can someday cash in on blowing the whistle on this sort of thing. Hopefully creating an atmosphere of anxiety and fear in the managment of these departments. But I won’t hold my breath, either. Easier for city’s and state’s to limit whistleblower protections, to pass legislative caps on compensation against city’s by gov’t employees, easier to do a whole host of things that make the internal police problems worse than it is to do things to make the problems better.

    And again, my problem the state of affairs that currently exists which makes it possible to do very little actual good work and still win the coveted Agitator Police Officer of the Year award.

  13. #13 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Yikes. Just saw the BART shooting. Un-frikken-believeable. No riots yet?

  14. #14 |  scott clark | 

    OMG, I am sorry about all those misused and abused apostrophes in my last comment.

  15. #15 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    BTW: Execution-style murder and execution-style killing are news media buzzwords applied to various acts of criminal murder where the perpetrator kills at close range a conscious victim who is under the complete physical control of the assailant and who has been left with no course of resistance or escape.

    Sounds like the BART shooting to me

  16. #16 |  David | 

    And again, my problem the state of affairs that currently exists which makes it possible to do very little actual good work and still win the coveted Agitator Police Officer of the Year award.

    To be fair, Scott, the Agitator Police Officer of the Year is about as official as a “World’s Greatest Dad” t-shirt.

  17. #17 |  Nick T | 

    Scott,

    Just to address your point that very little can be done here…. While it may be difficult the solution is for DAs and politicians to punish corrupt or criminal cops and support those who “rat” on them. I think a couple of high-media-profile prosecutions of seemingly not-so-high-profile crimes committed by cops would go a long way towards one city saying “we will not tolerate corruption and crime from our police.” Then honor the cops who “ratted” and suspend the very first cop who pulls any sort of retaliatory bullcrap. Changing the culture in one single department would go a long way and can’t be too impossible can it?

  18. #18 |  Mister DNA | 

    RE: The BART shooting

    This is one of those situations that’s so blatant that the government might actually take steps to prevent this from happening again.

    Unfortunately, their solution will probably be a ban on cell phone cameras.

  19. #19 |  Mattocracy | 

    Good to see a good post about cops. They are few and far between.

  20. #20 |  scott clark | 

    RE: BART shooting.

    I wonder if the officer thought he was holding his Taser? Like officer reached for his Taser but instead pulled his service revolver?

  21. #21 |  MacK | 

    HEADLINES:
    BART Officer saves city money, becomes Judge, Jury, and EXECUTIONER!

  22. #22 |  MacK | 

    I love how Mike Mibach (BART police spokesman) say “if it was an accidentwe’ll get it out there, if we screwed it up we’ll say that, if it was justified we’ll say it was justified”.

    At no time did he say: If the cop murdered him what we will do about it.

  23. #23 |  Salvo | 

    Just to throw this into the discussion as a talking point, I wonder if perhaps, the problem is police unions? I say this a person who is generally pro-union. It seems that one of the common threads in these stories is that somebody tries to investigate a cop, and the union goes nuts, and the investigator backs down. If it’s a cop who turned on other cops though, well, the the police union is nowhere to be seen.

  24. #24 |  Burrow Owl | 

    I wonder if the officer thought he was holding his Taser? Like officer reached for his Taser but instead pulled his service revolver?

    It would be a travesty of justice either way.

    The victim was restrained and showing no signs of resistance.
    ———-
    Mr. DNA @ 18:

    You’re probably right. Did you catch the part where the BART cop tried to confiscate the young lady’s cell phone?

  25. #25 |  scott clark | 

    B. Owl,

    Yes, it a travesty either way. Its a reason for cops not to be issued both Tasers and guns. Its another argument against Tasers. I didn’t mean it as an excuse for the cop.

  26. #26 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Two things:

    1. Sharma’s got dirty hands, too. His crime was using cut & paste reports, something that we’ve bitched here about other officers doing. The best you can say about him is that he’s being unfairly singled out for doing something that probably every beat officer is doing, and the rest should be fired if he should. I think he’s getting the railroad, no doubt, but he did do something wrong that we have complained about here before.

    2. This is why I always pipe up when someone shows a story of “finally a police dept. does the right thing and fires an officer that breaks the law”. In many cases, and perhaps even usually, the officer in question is actually the subject of revenge for not towing the line. Sharma is no exception.

  27. #27 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #5 pegr:
    “I teach my kids that there is no such thing as an honest cop. Those that are tend to cover for those that aren’t, because “the system” pressures these “honest cops”. When you find one that goes against the grain, it’s the exception, not the rule.”

    With due respect, I have a couple problems with this statement. First, I would be very cautious about teaching kids to have contempt for the police, if that is an accurate depiction of what you are doing. If your kids are ever in danger, hurt, lost, etc. and are afraid to approach an officer or go to a police station, that would not be a good thing. Teaching your kids to assert their rights, and encouraging them not to have blind faith in ANYONE (police, politicians, clerics, teachers, the weatherman, etc.) would be sound practice. If and when I have kids, that’s what I’ll do.

    Regarding your discussion of the systemic pressures which discourage honesty in policing, I would say I mostly agree with you. However, if we go too far with this line of thinking, we end up providing officers with a convenient excuse to leave their ethics at the station house door.

    This resembles the Leftist “poverty” excuse. I have no doubt that there is a strong positive correlation between living in an impoverished setting and getting involved in crime. If you have a crime mapping program available, you can demonstrate this easily. However, we still must encourage individuals to respect the lives, property and rights of others. Reminding people that they will be held accountable for THEIR behavior is key, and is equally applicable to police departments. Officers need to stop viewing themselves as just “one of the guys (or gals).” We all know that a feeling of anonymity can encourage misbehavior (just ask a blogger). True transparency and accountability can encourage officers to break out of the collectivist mold and realize that they are individuals with a job to do, not a member of the biggest, baddest gang in town.

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