06 January 2009

No One Is Immune...
No matter if the shirt you wear is blue with a shield or not, sooner or later you WILL have what a former supervisor of mine back in Columbus used to refer to as...a BRAIN FART.
Everybody has them as sure as they have a pound or so of grey matter rattling around in their primate skulls. There's just NO getting around it.
Hopefully, the brain fart YOU will have will not result in injury or death, will not cost you a ton of foldin' money, or will wind up with you behind bars.
Most of our brain farts are but mere lapses in memory, or trains of thought. Some will manifest themselves in lapses of JUDGMENT or protocol. And others will provide hours of amusement to ourselves (again, hopefully) as well as our friends, colleagues, and even strangers.
Some of the more humorous ones are the times when a woman leaves a restroom, only to find she has grown a tail of toilet tissue trailing her from beneath her skirt (yes, some women still DO wear skirts). Or how about the person that leaves a gas station with the PUMP STILL ATTACHED to the filler tube? I like where a person leaves a drink on top of the car, drives off and makes it home with the drink curiously missing, all the time wondering WHERE that container of double latte went to.
You have to admit that brain farts are nothing more than nature's way of saying "Hey, take life just a tad SLOWER, and pay some attention to what you're doing".
Nevertheless, there will be times when having a brain fart turns into a form of cranial diarrhea.
Then we have a problem.
Case in point: The situation concerning former Sgt. Jon Bonar, a distinguished veteran of the FWPD.
Jon has been instrumental in ticketing and/or arresting drunk (or otherwise impaired) drivers here in Fort Wayne for years.
But Jon had a serious brain fart.
Like I said, it happens to us ALL.
This one was kinda large.
Seems (then) Sgt. Bonar had a DUI suspect in custody at a local hospital. That suspect escaped (but was later recaptured the same day). His supervisory capacity (and subsequent negligence, as Chief York put it) was called into question (Bonar had another officer with him at the time). In another instance, the securing of a fatal crash scene is being looked into by none other than the prosecutor's office.
Nice one, Karen...you pursue DRUG DEALERS with such verve?
In both cases, there WERE lapses in protocol, and while I think busting Sgt. Bonar back to patrolman is a bit on the severe side (I would have him cough up a stripe to corporal), someone's got to take the fall, and who better than the person that had the brain fart?
The person replacing Bonar in his position is Lt. Tony Maze. I met Tony Maze on a repo call a few years back, when he was a Sgt., and he's good people. And he's as tall as I am, so we've a kinship there...(in other words, never let someone's STATURE fool you, kapeesh?)
He was the supervisor on scene along with officers Ryan Moore and Bernie Ebetino, and I can say that Tony handled the situation expeditiously, and should be just as good, if not better in his new role.
Still, busting Bonar back to patrolman seems harsh.
I know for a fact that there are many officers that draw reprimands that are totally UN-deserved, especially on the SOUTH side of this city.
There are people (down here) who WILL SUE the department for the least trivial item, even when they KNOW they themselves did wrong.
That's just the nature of this beast on the SOUTH side.
And I also know of "advocates" that are intermediaries between these "citizens" (read law-breakers) and the department who lobby for disciplinary action against officers whose only fault is doing DAMN good police work. Unfortunately, it's racially-based in nature.
Police were called to a person's home yesterday, and one officer added a caveat to the second officer saying that "this woman has sued the department twice in the last year...be advised".
That's what the police have to deal with around here in my part of town...DAILY. Should I therefore think that Jon Bonar deserves NO reprimand?
Not hardly.
But the severity of such discipline when making "the punishment fit the crime" needs to be called to attention.
What Bonar did was wrong. I'll give you that.
And he should be disciplined...in as much as the severity of the lapse of protocol and professional negligence would call for...FAIRLY!
Every officer will make mistakes...EVERY SINGLE ONE.
And each officer has to live with the results of that mistake, whether it's shooting a person that was believed to have a weapon, but had none, not being able to arrive before someone else was killed, or even having a prisoner/suspect escape from custody.
A few officers don't even get that luxury, as their "mistake" (as in hesitating one second too long) results in THEM being shot or killed in the line of duty. And that is the ultimate lapse of judgment, albeit for the want to not necessarily invoke deadly force.
In a better world, the CRIMINALS would get as severe reprimands as has Jon Bonar.
Then again, in a better world, we'd have a lot more people making FEWER brain farts, taking personal responsibility for THEIR actions, holding THEMSELVES accountable by making much better choices, thereby allowing the policing of the citizenry to become a MUCH easier task.
Yeah...a better world...we CAN still dream, can't we?


AWB said...

Maybe Bonar was targeted because he make Soooooo much money?

Bob G. said...

I thought about that, Dan....but he did a LOT of GOOD police work too.
(which all that O/T did was keep him away from home)

Maybe someone got "jealous"???

Many times, those in authority will resort to trumping up crap to divert attention from THEMSELVES in some fashion...


Thanks for your thoughts, Buddy!

Phil Marx said...

Police officers who make mistakes should be reprimanded, and citing the stress of the job or "I'm only human and we all make mistakes" is not enough to excuse this. However, the punishment should fit the crime and from the little I've heard it does sound that the punishment against Officer Bonar was overly harsh in this case. And I think you made a great point when you stated "In a better world, the CRIMINALS would get as severe reprimands as has Jon Bonar." This obviously is not the case.

Now, regarding Karen Richards: Just after my home was fire-bombed a couple years ago, a FWPD officer laughed at me about the situation and told me to quit causing problems with the drug dealers here. Because that officer was a member of the Command Staff, this implied to me that FWPD had no concern for my personal safety.

That was the circumstances under which I filed a formal complaint against that officer. Because of the high rank of this officer, I feared that my actions might draw retribution from the department as a whole. That is why I sent a copy of my complaint to Karen Richards also. Her reply was that her office had no business investigating the internal affairs of FWPD.

So, why is Richrds not willing to just let the police handle things themselves this time? I'd bet money it's something political.

Bob G. said...

NO bet taken here...I only like to bet on things I have a CHANCE of winning.

The entire judicial system in this city needs a serious overhaul...from the top on down.

But that's just *my* opinion.

Thanks for your thoughts, Phil.