It's been a while since I focused on a local story, and I read about one that outraged me today and figured I would take a closer look at it. It has to do with absolute power and the police (big surprise there for those who have followed this blog). It seems that two narcs from Queens are accused of framing four men for dealing cocaine at a club in Elmhurst, Queens a year ago. It seems that one of the officers, Detective Stephen Anderson, claimed that he bought one bag of blow at the club from two men (Gabriel Lira and Julian Martinez). The other officer, Henry Tavarez, claimed that he bought two bags of blow from four men (Jose Colon, Maximo Colon [they're brothers], Raul Duchimasa, and Luis Rodriguez). The reality of the situation is much different.
What really happened was that Detective Anderson bought three bags of the nose clams from Lira and Martinez (the two have since pleaded guilty) and Officer Tavarez took two of the bags and claimed that the Colons, Duchimasa and Rodriguez sold them to him. The arrests occurred on January 4, 2008 and five of the men were released the next day with no bail (Maximo Colon spent three days in jail until he could post $2,500 bail). Charges against the four innocent men were dismissed when Jose Colon was able to go back to the club (called Club Delicioso) and obtain video footage which showed that the four men had no contact with the crooked narcs. Since the indictments have come to light, Officer Tavarez has been placed on modified assignment without his badge or his piece (so don't worry, he's still being paid with taxpayer dollars). Detective Anderson is no longer with the NYPD, as he left to join the Nassau County Police Department but dropped out before graduating from the academy (probably did not pass the professionalism and ethics portion).
So here are my questions: what if Jose Colon went back to the club and could not obtain a copy of the video that exonerated him and his brother and their friends? What if the club had no CCTV or had erased the tapes? Would our taxpayer dollars be used to prosecute and imprison these four innocent men? What about all of the other collars these two officers have made? This opens up massive room for appeals and calls into question every arrest made by Detective Stephen Anderson and Officer Henry Tavarez. So, because of their boneheaded actions, legitimate drug dealers could be back out on the streets because these two boys in blue tried to lock up innocent bystanders.
It does not end there. This also exposes the NYPD to a lawsuit, which would be paid out with taxpayer money. It also erodes confidence in the NYPD, which has had less than a stellar week as one officer pleaded guilty to illegally accessing the feds' terrorist watch list to help a friend in Canada with a child custody dispute, and a NYPD lieutenant stabbed and shot his wife to death (in front of his own daughter) before turning the gun on himself (the gun was his service revolver). What is unfortunate about police officers getting caught doing horrible things is the fact that it erodes the public's confidence in the police force as a whole. There are some good officers out there who care for others, but there are also people like this, and you cannot tell just by looking at a cop whether he's good or bad. Though impossible to implement in this economy, the best things to weed scumbags out of the NYPD would be to increase training, salary, and the requirements to be a police officer (make it more competetive). Being a cop is an important job and one that is needed in America, but there's got to be a better way to do this so we don't have as many issues as this.
In summation, Anderson and Tavarez should go to prison, just like they tried to get the four bystanders in prison. We give police officers a lot of power and expect them to use it correctly and justly. All the NYPD cars say "Courtesty, Professionalism, Respect" on the back of them, and it's clear that neither Anderson nor Tavarez embodied that slogan. How Tavarez was able to rise to detective in the NYPD is beyond me and hopefully his superior officers are doing some self-evaluation trying to figure out the same question. If Anderson and Tavarez don't see the inside of a prison, they won't learn their lesson and will join other people of power who get away with murder (literally and figuratively). Peace.
Photos - Jose and Maximo Colon (l. to r.) (New York Post), Screenshots from the video that exonerated the Colons and their friends (New York Post)