AMSTERDAM, Ohio – In the days after they ousted their police chief, the leaders of this town realized that the real mess he’d made wasn’t the jumble of trash and misplaced evidence that cluttered his office. It was what was buried underneath.
There they found forms featuring the mayor’s apparently forged signature that David Cimperman used to add more than 30 officers to the town’s police roster – one for every 16 residents. Many never did any paid police work for the town, logging hours instead for a private security business that state investigators say Cimperman ran on the side. He tried to outfit them with high-end radios. The riot gear and other surplus military equipment he bought with taxpayer money are missing.
What they know is that they could have prevented it all with a single phone call. They hired a chief without knowing he’d been fired for perjury, quit a job as his bosses started investigating missing police equipment and was charged with a felony for tampering with police radios to make untraceable phone calls.
Misconduct that might disqualify someone from being hired as a rookie cop hasn’t stopped officers from taking the top jobs at law enforcement agencies throughout the USA.
Many ended up running small forces in places without the inclination to do basic background checks or without the wherewithal to penetrate the secretive and haphazard systems that can hide police misconduct even from the police.
“Whether it’s entirely fair or not, a police chief or sheriff is really considered a role model for the community,” says Arizona State University criminology and criminal justice professor Michael Scott, a former police chief. “If it’s understood the chief has violated the law ... it more or less is a signal to the officers or deputies that you don’t have to be any better.”
In North Dakota, officials picked as their sheriff a man who’d led his co-workers on a 100 mph chase after drinking. A dispatcher summoned him to assist in his own pursuit. In Georgia, an officer fired from the state police after investigators found he’d carried out numerous on-duty affairs and lied about it landed a job as a small-town chief. A Washington trooper who was convicted of rendering criminal assistance in a case involving his son found work leading a small department in that state.
COMMENTS: Golly! Some of this sounds familiar, doesn't it? So dust off your resume, claim anything you like, 'cause they're not going to check. Your own little Mayberry awaits.
The story goes on and on and is well worth the read.