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Dick Clarke: “No Mere Beat Patrol Deputy”

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on September 5, 2010

Someone who is a David Clarke supporter (although not enough of a supporter to actually put their name out there) has taken umbrage with the fact that I pointed out that Clarke has been sucking up to the conservatives, begging for support in the Democratic primary in a couple of weeks.

Clarke is probably feeling a little nervous given he can’t count on a Republican cross over with the Neumann/Walker race being so tight.

Anyway, said anonymous Clarke supporter and I have been have a little chat about Clarke’s failure as a law enforcement officer, specifically when he tried to help a drunk driver get back on the road.

Said Clarke supporter retorted with this line (emphasis mine):

Can you immediately tell when someone is at .08 just by looking at them? A guy stuck in a snowbank on a snowy day doesn’t immediately mean he’s drunk. Clarke called for a squad to deal with it, so what? He’s the sheriff, not a beat patrol deputy.

My, oh my. So he’s the sheriff! I guess that means he’s exempt from his primary job duty, which is enforcing the law.

How is he supposed to lead his deputies if he is incapable of doing the job himself?

Surprisingly, or maybe not, the elitism isn’t even the worst of it.

First there is the factual problems. I’d say it was pretty obvious the driver was looped, giving Dan Bice’s report:

It looked, at first glance, like a run-of-the-mill winter accident.

At least that’s the way Sheriff David Clarke Jr. treated it.

But he couldn’t have been more wrong.

Clarke, the first cop at the scene, instantly moved into helper mode. First, he tried to push and then pull Allen’s vehicle out of the snow bank. But even with the help of another motorist, Clarke couldn’t get Allen and his Ford Taurus back on the road.

That’s when the second officer arrived.

Deputy Sandra Santoro* did what any good cop should have done from the start.

Santoro ran a check on the driver and found that his license was suspended. She then sized up Allen, noticing his eyes were bloodshot and glassy and that he reeked of alcohol. Visible inside his car were two empty beer bottles, one empty beer can and an open beer can, still three-quarters full.

“I’m not gonna lie to you,” Allen told Santoro, according to her police report. “I was drinking. I had a few beers. I knew I was busted when you guys came.

“I almost got away with it.”

As it turned out, Allen’s blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit. The 43-year-old driver later pleaded no contest to drunken driving, agreeing to pay a $764 fine.

But the elitism and the incompetence still isn’t the worst part.

As any law enforcement officer could tell you, honesty is supposed to be the biggest thing. Everyone realizes hat police officers and deputies are human beings. That means that they are going to make mistakes and poor choices from time to time. That is just part of being human.

What matters most is how you deal with the problem once it’s there. A good cop or deputy could cope with the consequences of making a mistake, if they owned up to it and admitted where they erred.

Clarke didn’t even do that much. Besides neglecting his duty as first officer on the scene, he then tried to cover up what happened by bringing up trumped up charges against the arresting deputy. To make it even more obviously a cover up, it happened only when the paper starting looking into the incident which had occurred, and not the six months earlier when the incident actually happened.

I guess it all adds together though. If Clarke is too dishonest to even admit when he screwed up, how can we expect him to be honest about what party he belongs to?

*Deputy Santoro recently was a hero when she was part of rescuing a man who was threatening suicide by jumping off the Hoan Bridge. I wonder if Clarke will write her up for not taking the bridge in as evidence.


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