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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

[CT] "There's a doctrine called 'respondeat superior'...

..."If a chief's been there a long time, then he owns part of it, and the police commission owns the rest"... "Commissioners wanted to be pals with the cops, and some cops always got preferential treatment, sometimes because they had something on one chief or another"... "There's a doctrine called 'respondeat superior,' the notion that the department leaders -- the chief, the police commission - are responsible to hire, train, supervise and properly correct the officers. That's why, in a lawsuit, chiefs and towns are named. It's a legal, moral and practical responsibility...

When Badges Are Tarnished
Troubled Madison Police Force Facing Crisis Of Confidence

Hartford Courant
By JOSH KOVNER
February 17, 2008
[Excerpts] The biggest problem facing the Madison Police Department isn't the dizzying list of brazen, on-duty crimes by officers, from burglaries to the electronic stalking of women to receiving oral sex from prostitutes to ripping off taxpayers through workers' compensation fraud. The thorniest consequence, the one facing most crippled police departments, is this: The climate of corruption is so deeply seated that just removing the bad cops -- the painful process going on now with no clear end in sight - may not by itself bring radical, permanent change. "The 'rotten apple theory' is a farce," said Neal Trautman, who's been teaching police officers about moral dilemmas for 20 years through the National Institute of Ethics, which is based in Mississippi. "These problems are cultural, and they're created over a period of years. Just removing the bad apples is a way of the dodging the truth." Who's to blame in a situation like this? "If a chief's been there a long time, then he owns part of it, and the police commission owns the rest," said Michael Buerger, a professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green University in Ohio and a former police officer... Bernard Durgin -- charged in October with making dozens of illegal computer queries dating back to February 2006. The names he ran included his ex-fiancee, her new boyfriend and 10 women he met in his second job as a security officer at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Durgin's boyhood friend, convicted felon Albert LeClaire, would tell internal police investigators that he brought two prostitutes to Madison to service Durgin "30 to 40 times." Durgin was out on injury leave for 468 days between 2000 and 2006; he was later found to have worked on at least a dozen occasions at the hospital, beginning as early 2003, while getting disability pay from the police department... Scandal has dogged the department since the early 1990s. Current and former town officials said in interviews over the last three weeks that the betrayal and disgust residents are feeling now is the legacy of ineffective chiefs and 25 years of cronyism on the police commission. "Commissioners wanted to be pals with the cops, and some cops always got preferential treatment, sometimes because they had something on one chief or another," said Michael Haynes, former chairman of the Republican town committee... Wrenching and costly appeals, lawsuits and medical claims are expected to follow the recent set of disciplinary hearings and internal probes. Counting the officers charged with corruption, those compelled to give statements against them and those doing the internal investigations, two-thirds of the department has been consumed for much of the past year... "There's a doctrine called 'respondeat superior,' the notion that the department leaders -- the chief, the police commission -- are responsible to hire, train, supervise and properly correct the officers. That's why, in a lawsuit, chiefs and towns are named. It's a legal, moral and practical responsibility," said Buerger, the criminal justice professor at Bowling Green...
[Full article here]

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