Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How The Police Got To This Point

There's a simple distillation of the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes that says “If you do things the right way, you do the right things.” Hobbesian choices are not about complying with arbitrary social mores but about making sure that the seemingly small choices we make are correct and ethically consistent. The old aphorism that “the end justifies the means” is just wordplay in the moral universe of Hobbes. The means themselves create the end.

So apart from not wanting to let that humanities degree go to waste, why the heck would I be writing about philosophy from the Scottish Enlightenment?

Simple, it's a continuation of what has gone wrong in the North Bay Village Police Department in the last year. Monday I wrote about the police chief using public money to hire a private investigator. The investigation is focused on officers whom the current dominant union does not particularly care for and has the appearance of being designed to intimidate officers and citizens rather than unearth facts.

Yesterday, I covered the isolation and lack of public accountability that characterize the NBV police department.

That we are worse off than before with the new chief does not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with how he was hired and the contract he holds. That process of recruiting and hiring Chief Daniels was filled with unethical and possibly illegal steps in which he willingly participated.

Let's review. Robert Daniels was brought in through the back door. After the commission voted lockstep, Vogel, Kane and Trujillo, to not hire an interim chief following Roland Pandolfi's resignation, announcing that they felt it was better to wait until a new commission was elected to recruit the chief, interim city manager Robert Pushkin began a recruitment campaign with few applicants. Daniels was already picked.

When George Kane and Rey Trujillo, joined by Dr. Vogel, forced the hire on the city without public comment and virtually no discussion from the dais, things were done wrong.

When the contract which gives the chief “sole discretion in management of the Police force” was written in spite of its clear illegality as it directly contradicts our charter and approved in collusion with Daniel Abbott of Weiss Serota, the chief, the city manager and the three commissioners knew and should have known that this was a dirty deal. Yet they all gladly went along.

When the severance package for dismissal for anything, anything, other than criminal conviction gives six months' notice and three months' severance, you know that the conspirators are aware of how illegal and unethical their behavior is and this severance package was designed to do two things – reassure the chief that even though his contract is illegal, he will be taken care of and put the cash strapped city in a bind where we continue to employ the chief regardless of his actions or inaction because we cannot afford to let him go.

So it's no surprise that Chief Daniels feels no obligation to the public, the commission or the mayor and spends his time protecting his position and supporting his patrons. It's sad for him and a bad deal for North Bay Village.

But given his willing participation in an unethical hiring process, his extraordinary contract, it's entirely predictable. Besides, ask yourself. If you were the Chief and you came in this way, would you want to be seen in public? Would you feel comfortable under scrutiny? Better to stay in the shadow, preemptively ferreting out enemies and not engaging with the public who were cheated.

Kevin Vericker
December 8, 2010

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