Sunday, May 25, 2008

A prime example of "being thrown under the bus"

Two Lake Pontchartrain Causeway police officers have been suspended and demoted after stopping a car being driven by Mandeville, Louisiana Mayor Eddie Price for suspicion of drunk driving last month, and then allowing Mayor Price to be picked up and taken home to be tucked comfortably into bed, without even a traffic ticket for the mayhem he supposedly caused:

"The officers stopped Price at the first crossover, about three miles from Mandeville, and the mayor admitted he had been drinking. Price also said he couldn't remember hitting the toll booth barrier, but the officers declined to ticket him or administer a field sobriety test, as required by the department's policy manual. The officers then allowed Price to call someone to drive him home."

In other developments in this fascinating tale, the Causeway police chief who handed down the discipline, Felix Loicano, had apparently been called and asked about how to handle the incident that night by Sgt. Chris Dupont, the shift supervisor at the time who was also one of the officers at the scene, and who is one of the officers disciplined. One can only imagine the consternation and anger felt by the entire force, once they realized how much the chief had sold them out after he was caught playing favorites with the local Commissar.

"Loicano initiated an internal investigation into the matter after receiving a call May 1 from Rafael Goyeneche, president of the Metropolitan Crime Commission. Goyeneche has said he called Loicano because he had heard about the accident and wondered whether the investigation had been as thorough as possible."

That's putting it kindly.

The officers of that department have now learned two important lessons. Firstly, it has been reinforced with crystal clarity that letting drunken elected officials off the hook is not ethical or the right thing to do, on top of being a real career-killer. On the other hand, the rank and file cops on the force also have a pretty good idea of just whose side Chief Loicano is on, and how far they can trust him.

It would probably be a good idea for the chief to stop leaving his gumbo lunches in the office refrigerator.

In all seriousness, Chief Loicano had better start looking around for a different job. He'll never regain the respect of those officers, not in a million years.

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