You Get What You Pay For

Municipalities that are unwilling to pay competitive salaries to attract qualified law enforcement officers are too often willing to overlook evidence that a candidate can't be trusted to use good judgment. This is the "spotty record" that Kevin Freibott brought with him when he applied for a position with Jersey City:

Officer Freibott was fired from the department [in Middletown, NJ] in 2001 after a car accident outside a bar and grill in Atlantic Highlands in which he was driving with an expired license. Although he was reinstated after petitioning the state, he received a six-month suspension. ... Officer Freibott’s history included seven accidents, six moving violations and three license suspensions, including a drunken-driving violation in 1988 and the revocation of his license for failure to comply with a drug and alcohol program.

Is this the kind of guy who should be trusted with a badge and a gun? Jersey City thought so. Its police department hired Friebott to work a midnight shift. On January 23, he spent the evening partying in New York City, got tanked, and rear-ended a Grand Am, killing two of its occupants. At least Freibott wasn't on his way to report for duty: he was out on sick leave.

Politicians who win elections by promising to ramp up law enforcement need to explain how they plan to pay for the plan. "Tough on crime" politicians are often "no new taxes" politicians. Hiring officers on the cheap will eventually lead the public to pay a heavy price.

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    It isn't just pay (none / 0) (#1)
    by Patrick on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 12:51:49 PM EST
    Good agencies that pay well have misconduct issues too.  And thanks to a defense attorney in Santa Clara it's now even harder to fire cops who need to go.  Spielabuer won his appeal after compelled to provide a statement in an administrative investigation.  According to a client memo from our legal counsel, this case also effects cops, who now can't be fired for refusing to answer questions in an administrative investigation unless they are first offered use immunity for thier statement.  That's a huge change from what the law used to be and quite frankly, I hope it's overturned.  

    But I actually agree with T-Chris,  Higher wages to attract higher qualified applicants would have some effect, but there will always be abuses in every profession regardless of how much people make.  

    as for the cop in T-chris' story, if he's claiming alcohol addition, hello ADA and good luck firing him.  He'll more likely get a medical retirement for his disablility.  Which is probably why...

    he was out on sick leave.

    In addition to..... (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 01:49:52 PM EST
    the pathetic starting salaries leading to less than stellar candidates being given badges and guns....it also increases the likelyhood of police corruption.  We've got rookie and second year cops in NY having to live in mom's basement cuz they can't afford to live in the city they police...how long before the temptation of shaking people down or taking payoffs becomes too great?

    Rehabilitation (none / 0) (#3)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 03:09:48 PM EST

    So are alcoholics going to all be deemed to be beyond rehabilitation?  Not a chance.

    well, yes abdul (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Sun Feb 04, 2007 at 10:56:17 AM EST
    an alcoholic may no longer be drinking, but they are still an alcoholic, and will be forever. they aren't allowed to pilot commercial planes, or be engineers on trains, for exactly that reason, they can always slip back into it. do you want to be the test bunny passenger? i don't.

    with respect to low police starting salaries, it gets worse, the farther you go from the big city. it's why most police and sherrif's depts. only require a high school education, no college graduate would take the job at that kind of money.

    it also explains why so many crime scene investigations are botched, and cases lost, or not even brought to trial.