Monday, March 17, 2008

Guest Blog - Keri Rodrigues, "To Protect and Serve?"

Many months ago I asked radio talk show host, Keri Rodrigues, if she was interested in guest blogging here on A View From Battleship Cove. . Today she asked me if she could write a post about a subject that she wanted to share. What follows is Keri's words, Keri's opinion, and Keri's story. - Lefty

"To Protect and Serve?" by Keri Rodrigues

I’m often approached by people in the community for help with situations – when they feel they have no where else to turn. From people who are fighting with their neighbors – to people trying to fight city hall – I get a lot of requests from people for advice and assistance in a multitude of situations.


A lot of these things I don’t discuss on the air, because frankly, they’re boring. Sometimes only the individuals involved would care about what’s happening – or sometimes the situation is too personal to disclose. Either way – I always give it my best shot.


That being said, there are occasions where it’s necessary to share these situations with the general public. This is one of those situations.


A couple of weeks ago I was approached by a guy we’ll call “Rob”. Rob emailed me to tell me about a situation involving his wife and the Fall River Police Department. Apparently one Sunday afternoon, his wife was driving their car out of a parking lot in the city – when a police officer – driving at a high rate of speed – IN REVERSE – struck their car doing $2000 worth of damage.


Here’s the original email:


-----Original Message-----
From: Rob
Sent: Monday, March 03, 2008 11:32 AM
To: Keri Rodrigues
Subject:

Hi Kerri
You have no idea who I am. So let me start with my Name Rob ***** Fall
River native My wife Is Janet I'm 42 my wife Janet is 40 now that this
is out of the way . I need advice on a situation that took place
yesterday morning @ 10:30 It was a car accident involving a Fall River
police officer and my wife. my wife was sitting still in her vehicle and a cruiser backed
into her......at the time of the accident the officer exited his vehicle
looked at what he did said Oh sh.t , went back to his vehicle called his
acting seargent and he went to the site , by the time this seargent was
done , it was my wifes fault she hit him bla bla bla and of course the
police report reflects what the seargent cited her for.


Now I know most husbands would say my wife is honest regardless , Kerri
My wife and I are very honest people and would not lie about something
like this it would be senseless to lie about an accident with a cop .
Its the point of it. We dont friends in high places to fix this mess so
I'm asking for your advice on this one , they wont let me speak to the
chief I tried that this morning. Kerri I'm pretty much at a loss on
this. I have to give credit to my wife she just took the ticket and
continued on to work, See my wife is African American and she knows
better than I when and where to cause a scene and this was one of those
times she just went on her way .

Thanks for listening
Rob *****

I called Rob and got all the details of the story and suggested that Rob call the Chief – Jack Sousa – directly, in an effort to get someone to at least take a look at the police report and get their side of the story. Rob then wrote me back:

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob
Sent: Mon 3/3/2008 8:02 PM
To: Keri Rodrigues
Subject: RE:

Hi Kerri
My wife and I just came back from the police station , We talked to a
supervisor, nice guy but he didn’t help much, I was fed bad information
this morning by someone who claimed to be the assistant to the chief
...... Apparently Police officers cant talk about each other in cases
like this , our next step is internal affairs, Kerri its a false police
report it makes my wife look like she is at complete fault , it actually
has the cruiser traveling up the street which is bogus . If I didn't
know my wife and I looked at this report I would say guilty as sin. Its
funny I was raised to believe the police were honest, upstanding da da
da.....Never in a million years did I ever imagine this, Its disgusting
and totally unnecessary, its a minor accident, though its going to cost us
about $1700.00 to fix give or take a few . My wife hasn’t really gotten
mad as of yet. We really can’t afford to hire a lawyer, so we may end up
having to go about this on our own.

P.S. you sometimes say on your program to contact the chief if you have a
problem , you may want to update that...... they wont let you near him.
phone or in person +

THANKS AGAIN FOR LISTENING
Rob


After hearing back from Rob, I really started to get mad. After all – what does it take to have a conversation with citizens who are concerned about the way they’ve been treated. So I picked up the phone and called the Office of Professional Standards directly (a.k.a. Internal Affairs) – and talked with one of the top guys to explain the situation. They pulled the police report – and very quickly dismissed the idea that the police officer could be at fault. I asked that they fax me the report – and then asked them to call Rob and his wife directly to address the issue. I also told them I would be following this very closely – and explained that I really believed what these people were telling me to be true. They promised to follow up … and moments later, Rob got a call.


A meeting was set up for later in the week:


From: Rob
Sent: Friday, March 07, 2008 6:20 PM
To: Keri Rodrigues
Subject: RE:


Hi Kerri ,

Just a heads up, my wife and I had a meeting with internal affairs, they reconstructed the accident this afternoon. I'm not totally sure I like what took place as far as that was concerned ,but I will say both Moriarty and the other internal affairs officer looked at the damage and shook there heads with disbelief or so it seemed , I don’t really think we would have gotten as far as we did without your help. I will let you know the results.


Thanks again

Rob


I followed up with Rob a couple of days later – as he was told he’d get an answer in the mail.


He did.


From: Rob
Sent: Thursday, March 13, 2008 6:56 PM
To: Keri Rodrigues
Subject: RE:


We won, I cant believe it.....no questions we won , her ticket is going to be nullified. Kerri thank you so much you should be hearing from my wife as well.


Thanks again

Rob

This story has a happy ending … but how many other Fall River citizens have been the victims of police writing up false reports to cover their own asses? How many citizens have been forced to take it on the chin – because they didn’t know how – or didn’t have the juice to get someone to listen to the REAL story? What happens when you don’t have a Keri Rodrigues to butt in and make trouble?


Police officers who abuse their authority – and file false police report should face immediate disciplinary action – and should also face possible charges for abusing their positions. And the Fall River Police Department should be more receptive to complaints from citizens who are concerned about the actions of their officers – without the assistance of nosey talk show hosts.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! This blog has come at the perfect time. A friend of mine is having a problem with her abusive husband and the police officer who came to talk to her today did nothing but degrade her and make her feel stupid. It's not her fault that her scumbag husband is on the run and has a warrant out for his arrest so he won't know about the restraining order. It is her fault that she filled out the paperwork wrong, but come on--her husband has threatened her life about going to the police so a little bit of compassion is called for by the police officer in question. Am I wrong in expecting this for someone? Anyway, I now know where to go in case my friend wants to make a complaint about said officer.

And I do understand that it must get frustrating for officers dealing with the same garbage over and over again, but being rude and demeaning the person who is asking for your help is just wrong!

Thanks Keri and Lefty. I appreciate this blog today. :-)

Fall River Community said...

Nullifying the ticket is excellent, what about the $1,700 in damages?

A police officer and sergeant falsifying the police report is just sickening.

There are plenty of people that because they lack time, money, patience,connections, knowledge, etc. don't fight these kinds of injustices.

Fall River is lucky to have Keri Rodrigues with her compassion and tenacity.

Excellent job Keri!

Some guy with a pen said...

You guys don't even want to begin the stories that people come to her office to tell her. It's like a damn circus in there.
Besides, she's not that great, she can't cook too well.
She can order a mean pizza, though.

Lefty said...

This is a powerful story and one that I hope is the exception rather than the norm.

Perhaps there is another side to the story, if so I'd love to hear it.

I'm idealistic, I want to think that the people who comprise our police force do so to serve our community and ensure our safety. A story like this erodes the public trust.

Lots of credit to Keri for putting in the effort to help friends she didn't even know.

Dr. Momentum said...

A police force is more effective if the public can view them as above reproach, and trust from the public is a valuable resource which can be spent along the way in the job of making the community safer.

When individual officers betray that trust, they limit the effectiveness of their fellow officers and thereby erode the foundations of community security.

phayemuss said...

I come from a copy family..worked 12 years with the Long Beach (CA) Police Dept (non-sworn). I understand about their unique bond and the extent to which they will labor to protect one another. That is not to say most police officers are corrupt - on the contrary.

But it was Keri's clout as a media broadcast entity that rendered the result in this instance. Let's not kid ourselves.

As citizens, aren't we lucky to have to our first amendment rights?. Imagine that "thin blue line" without it.

Faye Musselman
Payson, AZ

Fear and Loathing in Fall River said...

Wow, if this is true, as decribed. Both those officers should be outright fired. In the very least they must have marks on their records, and we should find out who they are and see to it that they were at the least severely written up.

This is exactly they type of thing that people 'feel' is going on, and it is exactly why people don't trust cops. Shameful...

That being said. I'm an outsider looking in. I can't tell you what is realling going on over there. But I can tell you what my guess is. I've heard that our police department is very top heavy. There are a lot of high ranking officers, and very few detail cops. From what I have been told, there are about 12 police officers working in cars at any given time. This means there are 12 patrol cars to patrol a city of 92,000 people and a city of 31 square miles. That makes it impossible to police the city appropriately. The police station appears to be running using old policing methodologies, of responding to the big crimes only.

This bit of insight into our force shows something completely different, and very scary. From what I can tell, there is an atmosphere of coverups. It sounds like this police officer would have been more punished for causing an accident, than for admitting his mistake. This leads to an atmosphere of coverups, and will cause officers to cover their mistakes up, no matter how small, or large. This is a systemic problem, if it is in fact what is going on. You see these types of issues in China, and should not happen here.

I think this should be followed up on by the media, and we should see to it that this opens up a full investigation into the police department.

Anonymous said...

The need for follow up isn't over yet and the ending won't be a happy one until those two cops lose their jobs for what they did. This probably won't happen though, even if someone like the Chief actually has the guts to do something the union will probably file a grievance and defend their crooked buddies. I have to admit that I lost all respect for the Police Union when they said they were staying out of the Mayor's race then they turned around and backed Bob Correia. After reading a story like this it makes me think that maybe it makes sense that corruption backs corruption.

just jenn said...

Will the city be picking up the $1700 tab to fix the car?

adv said...

Hey wouldn't it be nice if there were, say, a newspaper that would cover these sort of things? You know, 'muckraking' and all that? Oh wouldn't that be great...

...What's that you say, we have The Herald News? The paper whose editors are more interested in being invited to parties and schmoozing with local big-wigs than doing a good job? I wish someone would come and put them down, like a wounded dog. Where have all the real journalists gone?

Lefty said...

Jenn, based on this I would say the city SHOULD be picking up that tab.

and adv, I admit I'm shocked the Herald hasn't picked this up by now.