28 JUN 09: Beat (With Words) Cops
Can you believe we're approaching one year since Columbus voters approved the "streets and safety" sales tax? I'm starting to see a difference around town. In fact, I used that new sidewalk up Tenth Street from Bay to Front Avenue Saturday night - and it certainly beats jogging on the street.
Several people have sent us e-mails in recent days about the Columbus Police. We planned to address them even before Saturday night's news focused on the "Call to Talk" meeting with the police chief and sheriff. Amazingly, Muscogee County Sheriff John Darr talked about a deadly shooting four years before Ralph Johnson would have.
Police Chief Ricky Boren faced questions at Fourth Street Baptist Church about an incident you might consider old news: the speeding ticket for officer J.D. Hawk, and his phone call to the home of the state trooper who pulled him over [8 May 08]. Civil rights leaders want Hawk punished for that phone call - which tells you he's not like that Chicago hockey team. You know, the "Black Hawks...."
Ricky Boren told the forum he was NOT the only one to determine J.D. Hawk's phone call was NOT intimidation. He said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reached the same conclusion, as did the F.B.I. The state trooper's only remaining option may be to appeal to The Hague, and somehow declare that phone call a war crime.
The Georgia NAACP called in March for the Georgia Attorney General's office to investigate J.D. Hawk's phone call [22 Mar]. Aw, c'mon - Thurbert Baker never had time to review the Kenneth Walker case, and that left a man dead.
(But hmmm - would Thurbert Baker take the Georgia NAACP up on that request, since he's now running for governor? If enough Caucasian police officers are punished, African-American voters might forget what Roy Barnes did with the state flag.)
If state trooper J.D. Perry really wants to punish J.D. Hawk for that phone call, it seems the only way to do it is through a civil suit. But Perry asks for trouble if he does that. First of all, he might lose. Second of all, Hawk might actually reveal that embarrassing information about Perry he mentioned over the phone.
All this brings us to the police e-mail. Our first message continues a topic which really began last Sunday. A reader vented here about the Columbus police chief. Then another reader demanded more details on Monday. Today comes the response:
I will admit I hate Chief Ricky Boren because he is a two faced liar politician. The only way he will do anything as Chief is if he is embarrassed into doing it. When I complained about how we had NO PLAN for a school shooting incident, he got off his b**t and did something about it....15 years after Columbine. Its just one more example of how he just doesn't care. He is riding out his time until he retires and could care less about what happens at the Columbus Police Department. I have been saying it for almost 5 years now and I will say it again...the Columbus Police Department is hiring less than qualified people in an effort to fill the uniforms. Chief Borens plan to "fill the uniforms" wasn't supposed to be a problem until after he retired. Well apparently its biting him in the b**t now, sooner than he thought. I won't list any names just yet, but here are some examples of what the city is hiring:
1. A group of Officers in uniform got drunk at a restaurant and skipped out on the bill.
2. An Officer was hired after being arrested for a family violence offense and now has done enough during his probationary period to be fired and arrested for various city ordinance violations, but that isn't going to happen due to who he is related to.
3. An Officer is currently working at the department after being arrested for DUI, but others have been fired for the same offense.
4. An Officer is currently working at the department after his ex-girlfriend called the Police on him on more than one occasion for several family violence offenses that would have landed the average citizen in jail with a STEEP bond and a restraining order. He was never charged after a female Lieutenant made a "command decision."
5. An Officer is currently working at the department who committed a FELONY by giving out information obtained from NCIC/GBIC. Other Officers in the state of Georgia have been arrested and are serving time for this offense.
6. An Officer is currently working at the department after being arrested for shoplifting.
The list goes on and on.
To provide full disclosure, we should add this writer probably also dislikes the police chief because the chief fired him last year. Misery loves company, you know - even on the unemployment line.
This e-mail almost implies Chief Ricky Boren didn't want the one-percent sales tax approved last July. As I recall, he supported Mayor Jim Wetherington in getting it passed. Boren could have pulled a Bob Poydasheff, and hidden in an office saying "no comment."
Several of the cases listed here are mysterious and new to us, but one already has made the news. At last report, Corporal Roderick Winston was on administrative leave - and the charges go beyond drunk driving to speeding. But what if he's found not guilty? How crowded do we want the NAACP news conferences to be?
(We must note Roderick Winston is the widower of Shirley Winston - the officer who died on duty in 1990, and now has a city park named after her. We don't know if that explains how his case is being handled. But at least that should stop any rumors that "big tobacco" is involved.)
By the way, before you write us -- yes, we know it's only been ten years since the Columbine High School killings. If this e-mailer can't get a big historical detail correct, maybe some of the offenses on this "rap sheet" were settled five years ago.
Now for Columbus Police in training to do the right thing - but what kind of right thing?
I know this is shameless but I simply couldn't resist....
It's good to know after all the recent news that the Columbus Police department's cracking down!
Yes, a group of local law officers attended a workshop Friday on "Litter Enforcement Training." Who knows how many discarded cans of energy drinks could lead to high-speed chases?
To be fair, not only Columbus Police officers attended Friday's litter workshop. Members of the Marshal's office were there as well. You may see some of them out along Interstate 185 today -- scouting out a mile to adopt, so the Junior Marshals can pick up trash twice a year.
But the workshop leaders who came to Columbus from Keep Georgia Beautiful make a valid point. Why are so many people uncaring, and toss things like cigarette stubs out their car windows? It's almost as if they want state prison crews to work extra-hard.
Here's one last e-mail involving police, which came from outside Columbus:
I came across your blog from 11/30/07 today and it prompted me to write you and see if you might be able to give me an update on some old Columbus news..
It's pure nosiness on my part, but I used to be very good friends with one of James Burns' daughters in Florida when her dad was murdered in 1992. It was a very difficult time for the family as you can imagine and we would follow the story in the newspaper as best we could. At the time, I recall that the GBI was very closed mouth on information given to the family amid questions that Mrs. Burns (the widow) might even be the prime suspect (a ridiculous notion, if you knew her). I read references to the police "bungling" the investigation, but never see anything further for clarification..
Just my curiosity, but I am wondering whatever became of the case, etc..
Thanks for any light you might be able to shed..
Lt. Lynn Joiner with Columbus Police told me there's a "cold case investigator" assigned to matters such as the killing of Superintendent Burns. We hope to talk to that investigator this coming week to learn more details -- such as whether the case has been offered to that CBS police show.
. Lynn Joiner noted there's no statute of limitations in Georgia on murder cases. That allowed for an arrest earlier this year in the Curry family killings from 1985. There's also no statute of limitations on appealing murder cases -- as Carlton Gary knows all too well.
Superintendent Burns was killed before I moved to Columbus. I've heard stories from time to time about police mishandling the case, but people making that claim never have explained to me what happened. Let's clear up one other rumor, though -- I do NOT think this case is connected to that other shooting of a "Mr.
Burns" which gained national attention.
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BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: Boo-hoo - we were wrong again about the Miss Georgia pageant. Kristina Higgins won the title at the RiverCenter Saturday night. She's "Miss Capital City," while our choice Kristen Little is "Miss Georgia State University." Well, at least both are in Atlanta....
Now a quick check of other weekend news:
+ Which man preached in a Columbus church that the late Michael Jackson "accepted Satan's ways"? And added Elvis Presley did the same thing? Someday I'll find that Bible verse which condemns shaking hips back and forth.
+ Organizers of the "Columbus Tea Party" held what they called an "emergency protest" outside the Government Center, over a bill in Congress concerning global warming. Apparently it was an emergency because the warming really is happening, and the high temperature Saturday was 96 degrees F.
(The protesters are especially upset over a "cap and trade" section of an energy bill. This seems curious to me -- since basketball and football teams make trades to stay under the salary cap all the time.)
+ WRBL reported the Columbus Civic Center has a new five-year food agreement with the "Boston Culinary Group." That's nice, I suppose - but I think Columbus residents would be more thrilled if we had a Boston Market restaurant.
(The new food agreement means the Civic Center will have its first full-time chef. Maybe a nicer pre-game meal for the Columbus Cottonmouths will mean fewer brawls during games.)
+ Fort Benning held an Independence Day party and fireworks show - one week before Independence Day. It's not quite like opening Halloween costume shops in August, but they're heading in that direction....
+ The Columbus Lions confirmed they're playoff-ready by flattening Fayetteville 44-25. Schedules printed at the start of the season indicated the Lions would be in Charlotte this weekend - but apparently the version showing the Carolina Speed came out too speedily.
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