08 November 2010

Denver Goes Too Easy On Dishonest Cops Again

When Denver Parking Enforcement Officer Eric Madril got static from someone he had issued a parking ticket to, he conspirred to have Denver Parking Enforcement Officer John Culhane issue the person cited a fake $150 ticket and then to have it mailed late so that the fine would double to $300.

They were caught at a hearing before the parking magistrate, because the person cited fought the fake ticket, which was just nine minutes but many blocks away from the real one.

The Department of Public works did not discipline instigating officer Madril at all, and suspended Culhane, who made a false sworn statement on the ticket, for just two days.

The acts that they admittedly committed are crimes, indeed, they are both state law and federal law crimes. The system relies upon their absolute honesty. This is a case where the men should both men have lost their jobs on the spot, and should have been prosecuted criminally, or at least, punished with contempt of court sanctions by the parking magistrate, if the parking magistrate has that authority. Corruption and dishonestly by law enforcement related to their duties, even by law enforcement as humble parking enforcement officers, can't be tolerated. There are plenty of people without jobs in Denver who are qualified to do the work who don't have a record of engaging in outright fraud.

Mayor Hickenlooper's very first campaign for public office focused on taming out of control parking enforcement. And, the parking enforcement department has already been overhauled once in his administration when corruption was revealed there. There is a long history in Denver of undue leniency with bad cops extending to a major scandal during the election campaign that forced the resignation of a senior Denver law enforcement manager just a couple months ago. Fort Collins voters just ousted two judges who had acted unethically to secure a wrongful murder conviction while they were prosecutors last week. The lessons apparently weren't learned by Denver's senior government managers, because this undue leniency has spread to parking enforcement officers.

These men's fraudulent conduct should have been an opportunity to convey the message to every city employee that corruption will not be tolerated. Instead, it was used to send the message that you can get away with crimes while committing your job with negligible consequences.

In a few months, we will be having an election to replace Mayor Hickenlooper since he has been elected to be Governor of Colorado. Let's hope that whoever takes the office takes a tough stand against corruption by law enforcement officers.

Hat Tips to the Denver Post and 9News (including reporter Deborah Sherman of 9News) whose reporting revealed the problem. The Denver Post also did an editorial against the lenient punishment.

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