Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What Really goes on With Regards to Police Salaries

First, let me make clear that this unsigned letter I’m about to quote from came from an ex-wife, and that she is dropping a dime on her first husband.

Her ex is, or was, a state trooper on the Turnpike, and she says she wanted me to know just how good he has or had it on the job.

I understand that being a cop can be a dirty, dangerous job. But overall being a state trooper is a very good job indeed, especially when you compare it to what’s happening out here in the Dreaded Private Sector. Let’s go to the letter, which she starts by telling me how much her ex-husband the trooper enjoyed my columns.

“I can honestly tell you that he used to laugh and make fun of your articles.”

How dare he!

“I do not write you to be vindictive, but to enlighten you some on what really goes on with regards to the salaries.”

His base salary, she says, was $60,000 (I think it’s higher now), but he never made less than 180K and once got over $200,000.

“He had a master’s degree, which afforded him an extra 25 percent on top of his regular salary; he was paid $20-a-day tax-free to drive his own car back and forth to work, a perk I understand has been changed; he was paid extra money for passing a physical.”

Much of this is well-known. Here are the MSP payroll numbers from 2007: With overtime, 1,376 of 2,983 staties made more than $100,000. One lieutenant made $206,000 last year, $115,000 above his base pay.

“At the end of each shift (his was 7-3), the Turnpike would have one officer from each station running radar at time-and-a-half under the pretense of keeping the road safe. What a joke.”

He was home for dinner every night by 5:30, she said.

“He would always say that no one cared what time they left, as long as they wrote a certain amount of tickets and that the times on the tickets indicated that they actually worked the 4 hours.”

So how did he get home every afternoon at 5:30?

“He said that he would put the actual time of the ticket on the one he gave to the offender, but the one he submitted with his overtime card would have a later time on it so that it looked like he actually worked 4 hours. This went on for years, Howie.”

Then, of course, there were the paid details.

“My former husband used to sleep half the day because, as he would say, no one ever checks on us, and the construction people don’t care as long as the cruiser is there with the lights flashing - $40 per hour to sleep, not a bad deal, Howie.”

Another mammary: court duty. It was almost as easy as being a judge.

“He would be home every day by noon. If he was assigned a radar detail, he’d go back in at 3:30 and be home again by 5:30, earning $160 for his efforts.”

And finally, filling in on the weekends for “sick” troopers.

“I can remember him saying on weekends, ‘No hon, we can’t make plans today because so-and-so is calling in sick, and I’m next on the OT list to be called.’ And sure enough, he would get the call and go in and make 8 hours overtime. Those were the only times he ever did stay for his entire shift.”

I faxed this anonymous letter to the state police, and they confirmed all the contractual stuff - the Quinn bill payraises, the now-ended driving-to-work perk, etc. The state police spokesman said:

“If this guy did this, shame on him, and if there are others who are doing this, shame on them, because they’re a small minority of more than 2,000 state troopers . . . If there were a name attached to this, I can promise you he would be disciplined.”

Your move, Mrs. Statie. I’d be happy to pass on your ex-husband’s name.

Veteran Officer John Bachta Arrested for Possession of Heroin

A 15-year veteran of the Essex County Sheriff's Department was put on unpaid administrative leave after his arrest Saturday on a heroin possession charge, sheriff's department spokesman Paul Fleming said Monday.

John Bachta, 37, of Methuen was arrested about 12:25 p.m., near 85 Main St., in Tewksbury and was charged with a single count of possession of heroin.

He was later released on bail for arraignment in Lowell District Court.

"As soon as this department received information of the arrest, Mr. Bachta was placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation that is ongoing at this time," Fleming said.

Bachta began his career with the Sheriff's Department in May 1993 as a corrections officer at Middleton Jail, Fleming said.

He was promoted to sergeant in September 1999, and began working in the department's security and investigations unit in July 2001, Fleming said.

"He has had no disciplinary record during his tenure here," Fleming said.

Bachta is the son of retired Lawrence police Deputy Chief Stanley Bachta.

Information from the Salem News;

Former Deputy James Plouffe Arrested for Theft

Police reports say James Plouffe and two other men were involved in the theft of air conditioning units from a home on Zion Hill worth $35,000.

The police report says he attempted to sell the stolen units in early September.

Plouffe and his business partner, Daniel Hart were both arrested.

Plouffe was terminated from the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office back in July when he was involved in a different incident.

The Wakulla County Sheriff's Office says a complaint was filed against James Plouffe in June.

According to reports, Plouffe was off duty when a group of young people got into a verbal dispute.

A parent complained that during the incident that Plouffe used profanity in front of the young people.

When the investigation was completed, Plouffe was transferred from the patrol division to the jail division.

However, the Sheriff's Office says Plouffe failed to report to duty and was terminated.

Deputy Robert McClain Arrested Attempted Murder

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy arrested in Irvine for allegedly attacking his wife and a man he apparently believed to be her lover will be fired today, a sheriff's spokesman said.

Deputy Robert Avery McClain, 34, will be separated from the job he has held since November 2007 by the end of the business day, said Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"Obviously, it was a very brutal attack, and the sheriff feels very strongly about it," Whitmore said.

McClain is also expected to be charged and make his initial appearance in a Newport Beach courtroom today for allegedly attacking his wife and the 23- year-old man, authorities said.

The woman was hurt in the attack but not as severely as the young man.

McClain was in custody in the Theo Lacy branch jail, where he was booked on suspicion of attempted murder and other crimes for allegedly attacking the man and stabbing him near the genitals.

Handfield took issue with press accounts describing the attack on the man as an attempted castration.

"He does have puncture wounds in the area of the groin, on the inside of his leg, but (a castration attempt) is a little too exaggerated for me," he said.

The victim was being kept in a medically induced coma and listed in stable condition, Handfield said.

The father of the injured man said that his son's face was beaten so severely that he could hardly recognize him. He said it was his "understanding" that the woman was trying to leave the deputy, who thought his wife was having an affair with his son.

McClain also allegedly attacked his wife, but police refused to identify her or say how she had been hurt.

Irvine police were sent to an apartment leasing office at 1000 Peyton on Monday in response to reports of an assault, which apparently took place there between 10:30 p.m. Sunday and 1 a.m. Monday, Handfield said. The wife works in the office, and the male victim lives at the complex, according to police and published reports.

More Information:

Marivn Grant tells his Side of the Story

Marvin Grant admits he’s had a history of running from the police and driving with a suspended license.

So when he saw blue lights behind him as he was speeding down U.S. 221 in Greenwood County the night of June 24, 2007, he said his “instincts” took over, and he hit the gas on his red Honda Prelude.

What happened less than a mile away would land him — and the state trooper who chased him — together in a federal courtroom.

Lance Cpl. Steve Garren, 39, of Greenwood, is charged with one count of violating the civil rights of Grant, who testified Tuesday in the first day of the trooper’s trial.

A 15-year Highway Patrol veteran, Garren is accused of deliberately hitting Grant with his patrol car while Grant was fleeing on foot after bailing out of the Honda.

“Once I was hit, I flipped,” Grant told jurors. “When I fell, I completely hit the ground, bounced right back up and kept running.”

The incident was captured on Garren’s dashboard camera video, which was played for jurors.

Garren showed no emotion during the showing, though his wife cried as several minutes of the tape passed with only the sound of wailing police sirens.

Garren, a father of two and a church member, is heard on the tape telling another officer, “I nailed the (expletive) out of him. ... I was trying to hit him.”

About two dozen of Garren’s relatives and other supporters showed up in court. The trial before Chief U.S. District Judge David Norton is expected to last several days.

If convicted, Garren, who is suspended without pay from the Patrol, faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, though he likely would receive a much lighter sentence under federal sentencing guidelines.

The charge against Garren, who was indicted in June, is the first federal civil rights case against a state trooper since authorities launched an investigation in March into alleged misconduct into the department.

Gov. Mark Sanford in February ousted Department of Public Safety director James Schweitzer and Highway Patrol commander Col. Russell Roark, contending they should have fired another white trooper who used a racial slur and threatened to kill a fleeing black suspect during a 2004 Greenwood County traffic stop.

Schweitzer and Roark are on Garren’s witness list, though it’s unclear whether they will testify.

In his opening statement , Brent Gray, deputy chief at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., told jurors prosecutors were “not here to defend (the action of) Marvin Grant.”

“Steve Garren was doing his job in trying to stop him,” Gray said, but he added, “All of us — every American — has the right to be free from excessive force.”

Columbia attorney John O’Leary, one of Garren’s lawyers, told jurors the government’s priorities were misplaced.

“We’re in this courtroom today because he is pursuing a criminal, and now he’s the criminal.”

O’Leary told jurors Garren never intended to hit Grant, pointing out that Grant suddenly cut in front of the patrol vehicle while running away on Holman Street, a narrow residential street on Greenwood’s eastern edge.

Garren’s other attorney, Wally Fayssoux, who is O’Leary’s son-in-law, Tuesday renewed his request to have jurors visit the incident scene, though Norton didn’t make a decision.

O’Leary, a former police officer and ex-director of the state Criminal Justice Academy, verbally sparred with Grant at times during Tuesday’s testimony.

“You ran that night because you were drunk,” O’Leary said, noting Grant had been drinking earlier in the day at a family home in Cross Hill in neighboring Laurens County.

“No, I didn’t want to get another DUS,” Grant replied, though he acknowledged he had been drinking.

Grant confirmed he has at least four previous convictions for driving under suspension, plus convictions for failure to stop for a blue light and possession of contraband. A father of three, Grant was in cuffs for his testimony, explaining he has been in jail since May on a child support charge.

Grant testified he was driving “pretty fast” after Garren started to chase him, though he couldn’t agree with O’Leary that his speed was about 100 mph. The chase lasted about seven-tenths of a mile, O’Leary told jurors.

Grant said he ditched his Honda on Holman Street — described by officers as a high-crime area — because he knew the neighborhood.

After he was hit by Garren’s vehicle, he ran through a nearby wooded area and eventually made it to a female acquaintance’s apartment about two miles away, he testified, though he admitted he gave authorities conflicting accounts.

“I wasn’t thinking about no pain right then,” he testified, though he said the pain later became so intense on his right side that he had to borrow a friend’s crutches to walk.

Officers never located Grant that night. He testified he turned himself in the next morning at the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Department but was not arrested then — a story confirmed Tuesday in testimony from Deputy Dale Boyer, who took Grant’s statement.

Grant has never been charged with any crime in connection with the incident involving Garren. Federal authorities didn’t interview him until April this year.

In other testimony Tuesday, Greenwood County Sheriff’s Sgt. Derrick Smith said Garren made comments to him — while being recorded on Garren’s dashboard video — about hitting Grant minutes earlier with the patrol car. Smith told jurors he had to “apologize” to them about repeating an expletive Garren used.

Deputy Brad Ware testified Garren told him later that night, while they were searching on foot for Grant, that he had deliberately struck Grant. Ware said he notified his supervisor about Garren’s comments, noting he “had some concern about it.”


Officer Melissa Kronebusch Accused of Arson Plans to Marry Firefighter

A Saukville police officer charged with setting fire to a vacant home in March is scheduled to be married this month to one of the firefighters who responded and extinguished the blaze, according to statements made in court Tuesday.

Melissa L. Kronebusch, 26, a three-year veteran of the Saukville Police Department, is charged with one count of arson and one count of second-degree reckless endangerment, both felonies for which she could be sentenced to 50 years in prison if convicted.

According to a criminal complaint, Kronebusch was spotted on a surveillance video in the backyard of the house at 625 E. Green Bay Road, next door to the Saukville Police Department, around 12:30 a.m. on March 20.

About 20 minutes later, the video shows a glow visible in the southwest basement window of the house, which was owned by the village.

The video then shows Kronebusch leaving the adjacent parking lot in her squad car, driving through smoke that was already coming from the house, and then returning a few minutes later, at which time she reported the house on fire, the complaint says.

Saukville firefighters responded and extinguished the fire, which started in the basement. The fire caused $5,000 damage to the house, the complaint says.

One of the four firefighters named in the complaint as having responded to the blaze was in court Tuesday and was identified by Kronebusch's lawyer, Michael Guerin, as her fiancé.

The couple's wedding is planned for Oct. 10, he said.

Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Joseph D. McCormack set bail for Kronebusch at $5,000. Kronebusch posted bail Tuesday and was released from the Ozaukee County Jail.

District Attorney Sandy Williams had asked for $50,000 bail, while Guerin requested that Kronebusch be released on her own recognizance.

Kronebusch appeared in court via teleconference, clad in a jail-issued orange jumpsuit, and occasionally dabbed tears from her eyes.

McCormack ordered that conditions of Kronebusch's bail include having no contact with members of the Saukville police or fire departments, except for her fiancé, and that she not leave the state except to visit her parents' home in Altura, Minn., just across the state line near La Crosse.

That means those from the police and fire departments involved in the wedding will not be able to attend, Guerin told McCormack.

Guerin said in an interview that Kronebusch will plead not guilty to the charges.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Saukville Police Chief Bill Meloy said Kronebusch was placed on paid administrative leave on June 26 and will remain there until an internal investigation is completed.

"This was a complete surprise to us," Meloy said in an interview, adding that Kronebusch has been a reliable member of his department during her tenure.

The Saukville Police Department employs eight patrol officers, two clerical workers and three officers, including the chief.

Officer Kevin Sledge Hospitalized


A Lawrence police officer who is charged with kidnapping and raping a woman while on duty was hospitalized overnight after complaining of chest pains.

Police say 46-year-old Kevin Sledge of Salem, N.H., will be checked out Wednesday morning and arraigned if possible.

Sledge is accused of leaving his post at the police booking room early Friday and raping a woman in his own vehicle in a nearby parking lot. He then returned to work.

He was arrested Tuesday morning in New Hampshire and waived extradition, but spent the night under police guard at Lawrence General Hospital.

Officer Kevin Sledge Arested for Rape while on Duty

A veteran Lawrence police officer is facing rape charges and has lost his job after he allegedly kidnapped a woman off a Lawrence street and repeatedly sexually assaulted her while on duty and in his uniform.

Kevin Sledge was arrested in Pelham, NH earlier today on charges of rape, kidnapping and indecent assault and battery. He agreed to return to Massachusetts. This evening, Sledge is at Lawrence General Hospital undergoing a medical evaluation, said his attorney, Ronald Ranta.

The attorney said he was not certain what symptoms prompted the hospital visit. Depending on his condition, Ranta said Sledge will be arraigned at the hospital or in Lawrence District Court Wednesday.

IN a statement, Ranta defended Sledge. "At this time, we have not been provided with any investigative reports of what Officer Sledge is alleged to have done, or to whom,'' Ranta said in the statement. "It is our desire to expeditiously gather all the facts and vigorously defend Officer Sledge's innocence.''

Lawrence Police Chief John Romero outlined the allegations against the 46-year-old Sledge, who has been on the force for 15 years.

Romero said while on duty and assigned to the booking room early Sept. 26 Sledge left his post, drove in his private car into a Lawrence neighborhood and picked up an apparently inebriated woman.

With the woman in his personal car, he drove back to the station and parked in a nearby lot and returned to work. For about the next 90 minutes, Romero said, Sledge left the station, went to his car and periodically sexually assaulted the woman.

After getting a cell phone call around 4 a.m., a girlfriend of the woman came to the police station to pick the woman up. Sledge, according to Romero, told the girlfriend she was sleeping it off in his car and to come back in an hour.

The woman returned and the alleged victim told her what had happened. The two women immediately notified Sledge's supervisors and a both a civil and criminal investigation began, Romero said.

He said Sledge has been fired by Mayor Michael Sullivan but is entitled under civil service law to a termination hearing, which is now set for Oct. 6.

more information:

Police Technician James Denis Charged with Sexual Assault on Child


Sixty-one-year-old Denver Police Technician James Edward Dennis has been charged with two felony counts of sexual assault on a child.

The charges were filed in Arapahoe County Court on Sept. 22 against Dennis, who worked in the Denver Police's juvenile intake bureau.

According to the Aurora Police Department affidavit for arrest, in March, Technician Dennis took a young girl for lunch and then to a house for sale where no one lived.

There, according to the warrant, the girl says Dennis “went into my pants and started squeezing my butt.”

The girl said Dennis lifted her shirt and “started licking her” on the chest.

The girl said Dennis asked her if that felt good. She told police “she got scared.”

She told him to stop and he said he was a “little drunk.” He also told her not to tell anyone.

According to the affidavit, the girl told Dennis’s wife, who also told her “not to tell anyone.”

The girl eventually told her mother and her grandmother. The case was investigated resulting in Technician James Dennis’s arrest and the felony charges.

Dennis has been suspended without pay by the Denver Police Department. He’s been a Denver Police officer since 1979.

Dennis submitted his retirement papers to Denver Police this week.

Officer Keith Moody Arrested for DUI

Meridian Police Department patrolman Keith Moody, who was recently acquitted of charges he contributed to the delinquency of a minor in connection with an incident involving alcohol that reportedly occurred in July, was arrested and charged with DUI early Friday morning.

MPD Chief Benny DuBose confirmed Tuesday afternoon Moody had been charged during the incident. Moody, who was not on duty at the time of the arrest, had been back on the police force after his acquittal Sept. 2.

"He was put back on a shift about a week after his court hearing concerning the earlier charge," said DuBose.

Asked what impact this latest charge would have on Moody's law enforcement career with the MPD DuBose said, "We will have to wait to see if he is convicted on this charge. If he is convicted then he can't drive."

Moody is still on the force pending the outcome of his court hearing.