Opinions need not be feared nor suppressed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Different time, different mayor, different police chief

Too many years ago to count, a county commissioner got himself good and drunk and then drove his car into a light standard in the local Toys R Us parking lot. The onlookers at the scene called 911. A WBPD patrolman did arrive on the scene. And that’s when Scanner Land quickly became Bizarro World.

It went something like this: The patrolman requested that the watch sergeant 10-25 (report) to the scene. The sergeant arrived, took one look at the drooling commissioner and requested that the lieutenant come to the scene. And after he arrived, the calls went out for Command 100--the mayor.

Somebody, ahem, somebody at that bent and haggard light pole decided that it would be best if the commissioner were shuttled home so that no one would be the wiser. But when the word finally got out and the political excrement hit the fan, the police officers that responded that day were either terminated or suspended.

How do you say it? Damned if you do, damned if you don't. That's where police officers find themselves when even a routine DUI call becomes politicized. And that's exactly why they should just do their jobs while ignoring political pressure to do otherwise. At the end of the day, even if they become the fall guy for some meddling politiciain, at least they'll have their dignity and reputation intact.

Ah, different time, different mayor, different police chief.

When the following story--W-B officials’ son in vehicular wreck--appeared out of virtually nowhere, I was not surprised by it as I had heard the entire sordid affair some days earlier while visiting Scanner Land. Oddly enough, I was under the influence of alcohol while busily taking notes.

And despite my complete faith in my police department, I could not escape the niggling fact that I reside in a county that could and probably should be the future home of the Corruption Hall of Fame.

It had nothing to do with the names of the players, it had more to do with the modus operandi here in Culm County, so my reflexive reaction was to fear that pressure would be brought to bare on the police department to make this thing go away.

I had seen it play out before thanks to my trusty police scanner, and I wanted to believe that those days were finally behind us here in Wilkes-Barre. Still, I made a fleeting and vague reference to the incident so that the ‘powers that be’ would know that they had no exclusivity whereas the accident was concerned.

But in my heart of hearts, I believed that the right thing would ensue only because of that aforementioned quip of mine: Different time, different mayor, different police chief.

But with all that’s gone on in the last year and a half, you cannot fault the hoi polloi for being jaded, distrustful and accusatory at the drop of a proverbial hat around these here socially and economically demented parts. It seems that under practically every rock and pebble in this county lies corruption of some twisted sort.

When that Times Leader story appeared, the folks that commented on it at the Leader’s Web site clearly displayed that venomous distrust of the system. Here’s a representative sampling of their premature ire:

ScottG said...
Let's just see how this gets swept under the rug! Guaranteed. There will be no BAC testing, no charges and actually it will turn out to be the parked cars fault. Like mother, like son.

Same old, same old in this county! Surely the police wouldn't have the nerve to order the blood alcohol test and tick off their "bosses". Mommy is a councilwoman and daddy the judge. The right thing would have been to bring in the State Police to handle this one, IF you wanted to avoid the appearance of any special treatment. But, no, this is Luzerne County and the city of Wilkes-Barre, where the good ol boys network is alive and well.

Same Old Thing said...
I bet they'll sweep this under the rug to. What about the BAC TEST? Isn't there anyone to look into this? Wilkes Barre protects their own.

While I absolutely loath the enabling of anonymous commenting on news sites as well as on blog sites, you really can’t blame the anonymous assassins that figured the fix was in in lieu of facts and patience. And if you’d like to take issue with that statement of mine, first remember where you live.

But here in Wilkes-Barre, at least in this case, the right thing was done. What started as a Scanner Land red flag ended in charges being filed against someone with the right last name. And that’s the way it should be no matter what name was assigned to anyone when first they drew a breath.

While I’m not so naive as to put my complete trust in anyone who toils away for votes, this unfortunate incident reconfirms for me that I have a professional and motivated police department here in Wilkes-Barre.

While the unfolding corruption saga taints seemingly every bucolic corner of this county, and while it has spread into a neighboring county, it has yet to attach itself to anyone currently paid by the City of Wilkes-Barre.

And I truly hope that fact becomes a long, long-running trend. The ‘norm, if you will.

As far as this ages-old driving-under-the-influence plague is concerned, the cure--sobriety--is all too often worse than the disease-death, destruction and jail--for far too many of us.

Some of us, no, many of us need to work on that.



D.B. Echo said...

I recall that one of the responders on the scene of the I-dropped-my-cigar-while-on-medication crash was an EMT who expressed the opinion that the Honorable Commissioner was in fact drunk. When he was informed that his opinion didn't mean crap without the results of tests that weren't performed, he pointed out that in his other life he was a bartender who was legally responsible for determining the sobriety of patrons without the benefit of tests - serving an intoxicated person could cost him dearly.

It was around that same time that a female state trooper had an oopsie not far from Nanticoke and managed to roll a vehicle. No investigation ensued; it was just one of those things.

And not too many years later, the scion of a local family of legitimate businesspeople stole a woman's car - with her child strapped inside - when she was trying to aid him after he had crashed his own . Car and child were eventually recovered at the airport where the person in question really, really had to meet someone in a hurry. No charges were filed because, according to local prosecutors, in Pennsylvania there needs to be a ransom demand for something to count as "kidnapping." At least, as long as you are the scion of a local family of legitimate businesspeople.

zorcong said...

That EMT was Harry McCarthy.

And he faced political retribution for opening his mouth when "no comment" was clearly the order of the day.

Ball bearings, man.

We need more public sector employees like him.