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When Stealing is not really Stealing

April 6, 2007 Crime 23 Comments

By now you’ve heard that 15 of St. Louis’ finest were involved in using World Series tickets last fall — tickets that were evidence in cases against persons arrested for scalping them.  It seems that of the 15 it was 8 that were directly involved.  None, however, will be fired.

Mayor Slay, a member of the police board, affirmed Chief Mokwa’s recommendation:

These eight officers should be suspended from duty for a while – and when they return from their suspensions, they should be reduced in rank to the department’s lowest level: that of probationary officers. At that rank, there are no second chances for a police officer: one problem, and they are out, without an appeal.

This punishment gives eight officers one final chance to prove that they deserve their community’s trust – and a thousand opportunities a day, as they do their jobs on the streets, to make amends for their serious mistake. 

To others I spoken with, including city employees, these officers tampered with and stole evidence but are being treated differently.  Sure, they put the used tickets into evidence after the games but I don’t think that counts.  Granted, had they not used the tickets they would have been wasted which is different than taking say a person’s watch out of evidence.   Would city employees or even private citizens in private companies be given such a break?  Doubtful.

Two police organizations are taking opposite views.  One pressured Mokwa not to fire the officers involved while another says if all involved were black they would have been fired — that this is preferential treatment for white officers. I hope the difference is not race but it may well be.

So I pose the question to you: did these officers “steal” evidence and therefore should be fired and face criminal charges from Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce?  Or was this simple “poor judgement” on their part, no crime committed?




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