SocraticGadfly: Bad cops I have known

July 29, 2020

Bad cops I have known

The worst? I just saw the tip of the iceberg.

Hobbs, NM police chief Tony Knott, a native son, was fired as chief just five years after getting the job. It was presumably over using city records against a court special master after the city was already facing legal troubles for alleged racial harassment after trouble at a Hobbs football game in 1996.

But, there's this.

And this.

And this, indirectly.

I had become editor of a weekly paper there shortly after Knott was named chief.

About three months later, at a civic event, he said "You checked out OK" or something similar.

Turns out he'd called the police chief in the town of my previous paper and done a chief-to-chief background check. Bad enough 20-plus years ago; disgusting and appalling in light of cops shooting at media today.

He had other bad cops on the force besides the ones mentioned a couple of times.

No. 2 would be a now-former Falls County, Texas, constable, Richard Aleman. He hired as a deputy constable a cop who not once, but twice, in neighboring counties shot people while on the job. No-billed in both cases due to DAs who cite qualified immunity to get a grand jury to no-bill, rather than indict, a ham sandwich.

And, he was Hispanic, which on paper should have made him more sensitive to such issues, but didn't. I don't know if this was why he was voted out of office, wholly or in part, but he needed to be gone.

I also knew many other bad cops in Falls County, Texas.

Current Lott chief Hamilton, who five years ago had the brilliant idea of getting a drug dog in a town of less than 1,000 (but with a 3-cop force) and doing rent-a-dog to other jurisdictions making drug-related traffic stops or holds. Less than a month later, SCOTUS said you can't be detained indefinitely on a traffic stop without probable cause. I have little doubt Chief Hamilton was hoping for a cut of asset seizure forfeiture money because of his dog doing the work.

Former Rosebud chief Quincy Lee, arrested for indecency with a child.

Late Marlin police chief Darrell Allen, killed while doing off-duty security work, also allegedly was "off duty" when on duty; I was told (albeit by the Hispanic constable above) that he had a key to a room at one of Marlin's hotels, kept reserved for him for any daytime "assignations." That said, other people besides said constable had heard of this claim.

A successor of his, Nathan Sodek, who committed suicide when faced with a sexual assault investigation. I knew him as a Rosebud cop.

A then-captain on Marlin PD, Hector Gonzalez, arrested for sexual assault for, like Sodek, extorting an arrestee.

Sodek was white. Gonzalez Hispanic. The other three were/are black.

Notice the abuse of power with all of them, outside of racial issues. Notice that, except Hamilton with his drug dog, it was sex-related abuse of power in all cases.

A lot of troubled small towns take who they can as a chief. Even if the chief isn't crap, he (or occasionally she, mayhaps) scrambles for who they can find on officers. (I haven't listed all the bad cops in Marlin, or from what I can remember, bad cop instances in Hobbs.)

Small counties can have politicized sheriff's elections. I had forgotten all about bad cop by election, Falls County Sheriff Ricky Scaman — who was a bad cop before that as a TABC agent. I was refreshed on remembering that by doing a blog search for old posts that included the odious Ty Clevenger.

Update, Sept. 27: Scaman was arrested last week on an UNshocking sexual assault charge. He's also been sued twice over sexual harassment. Showing the incestuousness of Falls County politics, both DA Jody Gilliam, loathsome in other ways herself, and 82nd District Court Judge Rusty Russ, recused themselves from the criminal case on conflicts of interest. Yeah, something like this is often a pro forma. But, sometimes, it's more than that.

I haven't even toughed school district police departments and chiefs, either. Many of them are a license for grifting by the chief, who may do other work while being a school district chief cop.

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