Story of a Police Whistleblower
The following story was found on Reddit. It is an excellent example of one person’s experience with whistleblowing, and the potential pitfalls of not having a system in place to report issues anonymously. In this case, an ethics reporting system that was vetted by the local Mayor’s Office (and was a benefit to the taxpayers of the county) would have been an excellent resource.
“I worked for a small Sheriff’s Office in Oklahoma. Obviously can’t blurt it out because I still live here, and they could make my life more hell if they so choose. However, I know reddit will require proof, so in lieu of blurting it out, I submit evidence of the dismissal, and evidence of a court finding that the Captain was now considered a Brady and Giglio Officer. Okay, story time.
It was a cool Saturday night in March, and I was on regular patrol, out looking for a DUI (my favorite thing to do,) around a local casino (casino’s are a hot bed for criminals.) I had just checked on a stranded motorist on a bridge, seeing if they needed any help. Immediately after clearing the car, I received a phone call from my Captain who said he needed me for a special assignment. I drove back to the Sheriff’s Office, with several two other full-time Deputies, and two Reserve Deputies. It was explained to us by our Captain that he had made a traffic stop earlier, which yielded a small amount of meth, and he had gotten the driver to flip his dealer. He showed our Captain where he had bought the meth from, and provided a name of the dealer. Our Captain had explained to us that we were going to do a knock and talk with the dealer, and try to develop probable cause to enter the residence for a search. He came up with our game plan, which also called for us to detain friends of the dealer that lived next door to him (illegal detention,) due to them maybe tipping off the dealer, or having contraband on them as well. This is when I started feeling uneasy, but seeing as this is a small department, and I have two kids I have to feed, I went with it. We then left and headed to the location of the dealer.
While enroute, we stopped a few miles short to designate who would detain the neighbors, and it was decided that one full-time Deputy and two Reserves would, and I would accompany the Captain to the door while another full-time Deputy watched out back. I then took this time to ask the Captain if we needed a search warrant. I explained to him that when I was a Deputy in the Houston area, we would call the judge and get a “verbal” warrant to enter while someone went and picked up the original and a copy from the Judges office for the homeowner. He said he had spoken to the Assistant District Attorney and she told him that he needed no warrant for a knock and talk, which should have been common knowledge to him. I then took his word that the A.D.A. knew what he/she was talking about and we were to do a knock and talk.
As we approached the house, we were ordered to go lights out, which was odd to me. I then got out of my car and followed the Captain up to the house. A female subject met us at the door, and asked what we needed. That is when my Captain asked if the suspect was home, and she stated he wasn’t. Captain then moved the girl to the side and started to walk into the residence. The female then protested, saying “Hey, you can’t go in there!” to which my Captain replied, “Yes we can.” I made the decision to follow my Captain in, in case he got into a shoot out, because if I refused to follow and he got hurt, I would have been fired. Also because I didn’t want to have to explain why I let a fellow Deputy get killed in the line of duty with no action taken by me.
I was ordered by the Captain to stand with the girl in the kitchen, while he and the outside Deputy (very good friends with one another,) searched the house. After the search, Captain came back and showed the female that he had found some weed on a dresser in a room that no one was in. He had also found an infant child and another juvenile in the house, on the other side of the bedroom where the weed was found. My Captain explained to the female that he would charge her with child endangerment for having the children in the same house as the weed if she did not call the suspect and have him return home, to which she complied. He then had me stand outside of the house with the female which he kept the scene secure. He also ordered the juvenile with watching the infant baby inside of the house. About an hour had passed, then the suspect had shown up and was detained at gun point and sat in a car. By then, I had sat the female in my car because she was complaining of being cold. The Captain then questioned the handcuffed suspect in his car for probably two hours before the suspect signed a consent to search form to search the residence for the drugs and contraband he had found. After the retrieved it, he then released the female and took the suspect to jail.
June of the same year, I received a subpoena from the court for the case. I then went and printed out the report, because I wasn’t asked to do a supplement, so I could review it. I then noticed several lies, saying that the female had given the Captain consent to search the house, and the suspect detained offered to sign the consent to search form before the house was searched. I immediately got a sickening feeling in my stomach, because I knew I was supposed to corroborate this in court, which I could not do. I then went and told everything to a Deputy whom I trusted and who had FTO’ed me into my transition from a Deputy in a big department in Houston, to here. He gave his advice, and said that I was in a tough spot, being if I told on the Captain, my life would be hell. I decided to contact the A.D.A. that Captain had spoken with myself, and found that he/she told him he certainly needed a search warrant to get into the house. I explained to her what truly happened, and told her I could not testify for Captain’s case. She relayed this to the D.A. and the case was dismissed.
All the Deputies that were on the scene that night were ordered to write affidavits, and it’s then when I was told that the two Reserve Deputies had came forward around the same time I did, questioning the legality of it all. Then the D.A. had hearings, which I showed earlier, which decided he was a Brady (liar) Officer.
During June of 2012 until I quit in May 2013, the Captain was allowed to stay Captain, and my supervisor, and I had found out that he had been given access to the affidavits we had written. He was allowed to stay my supervisor, and review my report and such. In between this time, he did all he could to make my life hell. Calling me out for everything little thing I did (in my county, we do not work accidents. Dispatch had advised of an accident close to me, which I then turned on my lights and siren to get to, since I was trained in first aid and thought that serving the public is what I swore an oath to do, he called me out publicly over the radio. He did the same when I was running hot to a gas and go that was in progress.) This may seem trivial, and it might be, but it is embarrassing to have it done publicly. January of 2013, at the beginning of the month, I had gotten into a pursuit and arrested a suspect. I then filed my report, and my Sgt. and Lt. were the first to review it. They called me into the office and laughed at me because I had written fishing tailed instead of fishtailed, I fixed the mistake and laughed at how stupid it sounded with them. They were good guys, and had also helped mentor me. I then placed the report in my Sgt.’s box (open boxes on a wall, unsecured.) At the end of the month, I had gotten hurt (tore labrum in my shoulder,) on duty. While I was out, I had gotten a call from my Lt. stating that the Captain was saying I never turned in my arrest report. I told him I had in fact turned it in, because they made fun of me and saw me turn it in the night it happened. He remembered this. My Captain then went to the Undersheriff, in an attempt to say that I had refused to turn the report in, and tried getting me fired. My Captain then produced the report to the Undersheriff saying he had just found it in my box. In my state, refusing to turn an arrest report into the D.A. is a felony, which is what he did.
About a month later, I was still off for my shoulder, and I got a call from my Undersheriff ordering me to talk to a private investigator about the incident with the drug dealer. The Sheriff had contacted an outside investigator, whom he had ties to, and wasn’t a law enforcement investigator to “look into” the incident. It was then I found out that the Captain was really good friends with the Sheriff as well. I spoke with the investigator about everything. He asked me a few questions about the incident, but mostly about my personal life, in which I’m assuming was to try to find a reason to discredit me, but could have been done with the best intentions, you decide on that. In May, I was contacted by the Undersheriff, stating that I was being demoted from Patrol Deputy to the jail because of my arm injury. In my mind, it was because of the Captain’s incident, and my willingness to cross the blue code and bring to light what had happened. I refused the demotion and quit. I got a lawyer and recently found out that I cannot sue as a peace officer, because most whistleblower lawsuits are tied in with the first amendment of free speech, my whistle blowing was not considered free speech because I had a duty to report the incident, so I could not sue. And as far as wrongful termination, well, I quit. And here I am today, on Reddit, trying to defend good cop’s by saying a vast majority of us are nothing like this Captain. AMA from the incident, or general police questions!
Edit: Well in the last 2 hours, four sheriff’s cars have slowly driven by my home. I think I might have rustled some jimmies. I know they are reading this and looking for a way to discredit me. They tried the same thing when someone tried to run against the Sheriff in last years election. Made throw away topix and Facebook accounts and talked trash. I hope to see you here Captain, explain your side to them.