Tuesday, August 26, 2008

BCDO Politicizing the Police

With all of the news about the Democratic convention, it might have been easy to miss this story in the Record today. For those that hadn't heard about what's going on in Paramus, the town is being sued by a retired police office who alleges retaliatory action was taken against him for not selling fundraising tickets for Papa Joe Ferriero's BCDO candidates.

At the center of a deposition handed over to the Record, town clerk Ian Shore points to BCDO attorney Dennis Oury being part of the process from the beginning:
During the deposition, which was taken Aug. 14, Borough Clerk Ian Shore told lawyers that the discussion occurred in a closed council session and that Dennis Oury, the former borough attorney, brought up the idea.

When asked if any borough official or employee discussed taking steps to "hurt, harm, damage or inflict any type of suffering" on former Sgt. John Ward, Shore responded, "Yes."


During his deposition, Shore described two instances of being approached by Democrats to sell fund-raiser tickets. He testified that he decided to sell tickets for former Councilman Michael DeMarse because he wanted to keep his job.

"I thought it would take some of the pressure off me," he said. "He used to bust my chops, like he wanted me out of here."

This is flat out wrong. The pressure on civil servants is already intense, however being coerced into fundraising for one political party or the other is beyond the pale. Knowing that the politicians seek retaliatory action for not playing ball against police officers should be a crime (I'm not sure it's not). These are people's careers, not political appointments.

Politicization of the police department, on any level, is a dangerous path to walk. People who are called to be police officers (I do believe it's a calling) cannot be placed in a position where their career is impacted by external political power brokers. Sure, they have inner-office politics like the rest of us, but external politicians have no place behind the police desk.

Simply said, if partisan politics is placed behind the police desk, it could lead to selective enforcement of the law. Folks noticed when I went to court for the lawn sign placement in Paramus that no Democrat was listed as receiving a ticket, even though their signs were next to mine. I shrugged it off, because I thought maybe they had a different appearance date. Now I'd be curious to know if they were actually ticketed.

While I doubt there's anything there, these are the sorts of questions that can be raised when the process is corrupted. How many other towns has mega-town attorney Oury turned into a wrongfully politicized environment?

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