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This Is What We Do

“I’ve talked to them and to many others in the department about this thing and it doesn’t add up at all. How can you break a rule that wasn’t rule at the time?”

Former City Councilor Mike Germain in 2010 explaining why it didn’t make sense for seven WPD officers to be accused of fraud.

Colby Turner, a Worcester police officer, was arrested for allegedly pocketing reimbursements for fictitious off-duty assignments.

I did a double take on seeing the headline to this T&G story.

This story can’t be right, I thought. Leopards don’t change their spots, and the Worcester police department don’t chase accountability.

But then I saw Officer Turner’s photo and realized the story wasn’t about accountability but a brother forgetting his place in the department.

A  brother can be a WPD officer, but he doesn’t get to wear the privilege badge. He doesn’t get a pass for allegedly raiding the public treasury. He doesn’t get to go home on paid leave while his criminal charges are pending, nor is he allowed to retire with his pension intact instead of being charged.

The Worcester police arrested Mr. Turner at the station. The potential collateral damage to his fellow white officers was perhaps the only reason they didn’t use the SWAT team against him.

I can’t speak to the legitimacy of the charges against Mr. Turner, but I can give him some good advice. Bro, just say, “This is what we (WPD) do.” That’s your best defense.

The record is quite clear. The WPD has never won a merit badge for protecting taxpayers.

Some years ago, when it became evident that the WPD honor system for keeping accurate financial records wasn’t working, the department ran a PR campaign in which they touted the automation of their records and bookkeeping functions.

The department claimed the automated system helped uncover significant abuse of court overtime payments to police officers in 2008.

But we never got to the bottom of that abuse because although the alleged fraud potentially went back decades, the department conducted just a six-month audit, which uncovered about $100.000 in misappropriated taxpayers’ money.

The automated bookkeeping system subsequently found other illegal practices, including a double-dipping scam, in which officers were getting paid for two jobs within the same shift.

The department fingered seven of its officers in the alleged court overtime fraud scheme. The accused, however, were spared indictments after the state attorney general’s office chalked-up their alleged misconduct to “lapses in police policies and procedures.”

We are to believe now, according to a WPD statement, that Officer Turner’s case is an “isolated” incident and that a review of policies and an “internal and external audit of the system, “will be conducted forthwith.

Come on, WPD. Who are you kidding?

Man up and drop the charges against Officer Turner because if you were honest, you would say of his alleged transgressions: “This is what we do.”

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