Day 127: The Blue Line Gets Thinner
The announcement that Chief Lumpkin has terminated Cpl. Daryle McCormick is thought by some to be the post script to the Willie Lovett saga and the end of the investigation into corruption at SCMPD. Rest assured, McCormick is not the last officer to be terminated: on his way out the door he dropped a roll of dimes on everybody he knew and worked with at the department and there are still several ranking officers on the radar screen and under the gun, including a captain, a couple of lieutenants, and more than a few sergeants. Ultimately, the McCormick affair will blow the lid off of the tragic story of Andre Oliver, the former head of Internal Affairs, who committed suicide around the time that the Lovett affair was blowing up and whom you haven't read word one about in the Savannah Morning News.
No, friends, we haven't heard the last of corruption at SCMPD, far from it. The biggest problem that the City Manager and Police Chief and District Attorney have is pacing the parade of indictments so as not to undo the progress that is being made in rebuilding the beleaguered department. Meanwhile, among the old guard still in place the atmosphere has turned into one great big rat ship with people lining up to tell investigators what they know and what they don't know lest they be ratted out first. The situation is far from stable at SCMPD.
It's one thing to point up the problems; it's another to provide solutions for how we rebuild SCMPD. Let me add to my earlier suggestions that we 1. remove Stephanie Cutter from overseeing the department and 2. installing a police commission to root out corruption with a third suggestion: overhauling the manner in which officers injured in the line of duty are (mis)treated.
Did you know that if an officer goes down in the line of duty that he is afforded just ten days of paid leave to get himself back together? I mean, who-- other than Superman-- heals of a bullet wound in ten days? At the end of ten days if the officer is not back on track, he goes into vacation time and sick leave. And when he's out of that, he has to beg his pals for their vacation time, which is transferable between SCMPD personnel.
I don't know about you, but I think it is deplorable to treat an officer injured in the line of duty in this fashion. I mean, who the hell wants to be a Savannah cop under these conditions? You get shot or run over and run the risk of ending up on unpaid leave of absence when your vacay and sick leave run out? Not on my watch, friends. An officer goes down in the line of duty during my administration and we afford him all the time he needs to mend and heal. Otherwise, we send the terribly mixed message that we do not value his or her sacrifice, that we can't afford to keep them. Hell, they're drastically underpaid to begin with.
We haven't seen the end to the investigations into corruption at SCMPD, friends. More firings are on the line, more stories are unfolding, more cases are piling up on Meg's desk; the crisis is far from over. But at the same time we're going to have to bolster the thin blue line, and I can think of no better way to encourage young people to protect and serve than by protecting and serving their best interests.