Front page headlines scream out across America each time a cop gets busted for corruption. The rest proves a tragedy for the officer, the family and The Thin Blue Line. How many? The United States Department of Justice stopped keeping statistics in 1988, but experts agree that the drug trade ensnares half of police officers. Prison guards smuggle in drugs, customs officers waive truckloads of narcotics into the country while money corrupts too many. Even as citizens learn how much the officer took, the reader rarely hears of the most pervasive form of corruption; namely how often officers lie under oath.
In this fourth part of a continuing series, I interviewed my brother, 18 year veteran police officer and detective, Howard Wooldridge (retired), with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, www.leap.cc , now stationed in Washington, DC.
“The United States has been at war with its citizens in earnest since President Nixon declared a war on drugs/war on people in 1971,” Officer Wooldridge said. “Since then my profession has spent one trillion tax dollars to arrest 38 million Americans for drug offenses. Corruption has become pandemic across the US, as drug dealers offer huge amounts of money to conceal their valuable cargo. An ounce of cocaine is worth about 20 ounces of pure gold. Although police officers always start out with a ton of integrity that can go to zero all too quickly.”
The bribe becomes the most dramatic form of corruption to protect a dealer from being arrested, his stash or his shipment of drugs. We read of officers paid $10,000 to protect the dealer and his dope. Often these officers go years before being caught. Cops do not want to even suspect that one of their own ‘brothers’ has gone bad.
“Another type of corruption is caused by the large amounts of cash narcotic officers use for their buy/busts,” Officer Wooldridge said. “A sergeant in Clinton County, Michigan (where I worked) had access to the money and ‘borrowed’ about $2,000. After an audit showed the loss, he ended up confessing and leaving in disgrace. South of Fort Worth, Texas a lieutenant in charge of a narcotics squad took $9,000 a few years ago. The morning the audit was being conducted, he blew his brains out. Death before living in dishonor! He left a wife and children. Two narcotics officers in Dallas paid an illegal alien to hire other illegal aliens to drive vans loaded with cocaine. After the bust was made, the narcs field tested the 20-30 kilos of coke and reported it positive for cocaine. After 80 such busts defense attorneys finally had it tested by the DPS Lab. It was ground up sheet-rock. The two officers had skimmed six figure money off the top of the buy money. They were convicted. The assistant district attorney, who prosecuted the cases and knew that the arrests were bogus, was scheduled to testify before a grand jury. He blew his brains out that morning. In his early 40s, he left a wife and kids.”
In 2006, a case in Atlanta demonstrated the most pervasive form of corruption; lying under oath and falsifying a police report. Three narcs swore to a judge they had positive information about a dope house and obtained a ‘no knock’ warrant. As they pounded on the door, the 92 year old grandmother fired a shot in the air to warn the intruders she was armed. Upon entry, they shot her full of holes. Realizing their mistake, they planted marijuana in the house. Their house of cards came apart. Two have already pled guilty to murder and home invasion. They lied on the search warrant and then used their police report to justify the completely bogus operation.
“Less dramatic but nonetheless common, a sergeant in DeWitt City, Michigan appeared in court to testify on a drug bust,” Officer Wooldridge said. “He was there to establish venue. After providing that information, he went on to testify as to seizing drugs, scales, etc. The narcotics officer told the district attorney that the testimony was false. The district attorney dropped the charges on the spot. The judge ordered everyone into his chambers and learned the truth. The sergeant was forced to resign for lying under oath. NOTE: the officer had worked 20 years in Detroit where officers routinely testify to things they did not do or see on drug cases. This officer did not realize that the rest of the states’ cops took the oath to ‘tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’ seriously.”
The most common form of corruption finds the officer lying in order to search a person or car. If a driver does not give permission to search, the officer sniffs the air, declares he smells marijuana and orders the occupants out of the vehicle. If he finds the dope, he lies on his report that he smelled the marijuana which justifies the warrant less search. If he does not find anything, well, no harm done right? Wrong! That officer had no more right to enter the car than he does a person’s home and it is a violation of trespassing. Almost never is an officer caught, let alone prosecuted for such a crime. And they know it.