I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth…

How do four men trying to circumvent justice, not constitute some type of conspiracy? The line between a “small” lie about running a red light and the culmination of lies committed in furthering an untruth deserves further scrutiny.

First police officer Jason “The Rookie” lies about a person from another community running a red light. Next he looks at a tape of this incident and decides, again, lying is in order. His shift commander Sgt. Fortin (not a rookie) sees the tape then chooses to commit a lie. Shelburne’s Police Chief Jim Warden sees this same tape and thinks lying is in order. Even Shelburne’s (ex-) police commissioner, Paul Bohne, looks at the tape and decides to lie, claiming “Police Innocent of Lying” in an article printed in Shelburne News. An impartial judge listens to The Rookie’s testimony, views his tape, and surprise…
This officer and his chain of superiors need a lot more then remedial ethical training…

If it was “one bad cop,” this would be a miniscule issue. But with so many individuals involved, such a “mockery of justice” deserves a more in-depth examination than acceptance of a mere $25K fine. Behavior so unsuitable, especially when committed by officers of the law, should at least be considered grounds for dismissal. Perjury would seem grounds for severe sanctions…

That one of Vermont’s judges puts up with such an abuse by an officer of the law is equally disheartening. That this form of “closing ranks” is still business as usual should be a red flag for the government’s civil rights commission. Deny and delay, while a marvelous soccer tactic, is both insulting and diminutive in today’s society.

Shelburne’s system of police oversight rests in the hands of our (fortunately new) town manager, while other communities have a civilian citizen committee for their community’s law enforcement oversight. Elected ethics committees are also quite fashionable in other Vermont communities. These are two policies we should thoughtfully consider.

At the very least these four individuals should be extremely ashamed of their actions and possess that small shred of human decency and common courtesy to individually pen letters of public apology for their mistreatment of justice, determent to our communities reputation, and cost of fines, litigation, and time. In addition, the Rookie should also publicly apologize to those officers of our court for his perjury and to his fellow officers for bringing such despicable shame on the institution.

Kudos to the Board for negotiating such a lenient settlement. However, will these same good people go an extra step and require official apologies from all concerned? …

Kraig Richard, Shelburne

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