BY DAN VALENTI
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MARCH 31, 2011) — “Thank God for The Planet.”
So began an almost weepily grateful note we received this morning in connection with Conor Berry’s story in the Boring Broadsheet today headlined, “Police seek attack reports.” We shall keep the flowery content of the note’s remainder unto ourselves.
In the story, Barry writes that the Pittsfield Police Department is looking for “additional witnesses” of a stabbing wherein Officer Mike McHugh was knifed in the leg and sent him to BMC for treatment.
As a refresher, we remind you of this part of The Planet’s post from two days ago:
“Over the weekend, an off-duty officer [THE PLANET HAS REDACTED THE NAME, WHICH THE SOURCES MENTION] was involved in a fight with a guy and was stabbed in the leg. They arrested the other guy, even though it looked like OFFICER REDACTED was under the influence and instigated it. Again, it was all hush-hush and brushed under the carpet. Happened on Mohawk Street.” The sources say an investigation is under way and predicts: “Again, they’ll whitewash it, and it won’t make the light of day.”
MEMO TO THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE: LOOK INTO THIS ONE. IF YOU NEED HELP, CONTACT THE PLANET.
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* Credits Berry for the smarts to jump on this story. We did not request privately that he do this, contrary to one report we heard this a.m. Berry took it and ran. Good piece of reportage.
* Wonders why he didn’t credit this website for the tip.
* Offers this as evidence that our information coming from the PPD is reliable. We are not, as some recalcitrants have suggested, “making stuff up just to create numbers [of hit to The Planet].” We are offering, as best as we can ferret it out, hard information. We do so with no other motive than to practice our calling on behalf of We The People. As our motto says, we are “The Voice of the Little Guy.”
Gee, is the BB Showing Some Spine?
The name we redacted was officer McHugh. We handed the BB the story on a silver platter. We’ve done this before with “beats” other than crime and, for whatever reason, they didn’t take up the offer. The Planet thinks Berry is a reporter cut out of the mold that we respect: intrepid, entrepreneurial, and willing to fight for a story. We suspect he had to fight some to convince his “eeek, a ghost!” fraidy-cat management to let him loose. The Planet might have had something to do with that, of course! Tim Farkas, we’re glad to pitch in!
As Berry’s story points out, McHugh seems to have a penchant to attracting what the cops call “incidents.” In December 2009, he got clocked in front of a local watering hole. Now this. For readers who want more details about the stabbing of officer McHugh, we direct you to the Boring Broadsheet. Online will save you a waste of 50 cents.
The Sexy Case of The Third Shift Officer
Now that we have confirmed that The Planet is wired into sources within the PPD, we share this tidbit. Again, we invite Conor Berry, Tammy McDaniels of iBerkshires.com, Larry Kratka and Lenny Bean from radio news, the Channel 9 people, Joseph Pulitzer, Ambrose Bierce, or anyone else who wants to play reporter to look into this one. They can also leave it alone, as they see fit.
The Planet confirmed this information, and we personally don’t care what people do in their private lives. We do, however, care on behalf of We The People and taxpayers when public servants, while supposedly on the job, are NOT on the job.
All things being equal, this incident also confirms a pattern of situations that would convince a reasonable person to believe that the Pittfield Police Department is rudderless and without good leadership. This saddens us, because we know of the many fine men and women who exemplify the best represented by men and women who “carry a badge.” We are with them. They are with us.
We present “The Sexy Case of the Third Shift Officer.” Too fantastic to be true? You decide.
An officer assigned to the third shift was the subject of a long internal investigation. The reason? — Allegations by a female that he forced her to have sex with him. The kicker is that, according to “she said,” the officer did this while on duty. The Planet doesn’t think the phrase “pounding the beat” is meant to cover the alleged copulatory actions of Third Shift Officer (TSO). Command placed TSO on desk duty.
The internal probe was launched. PPD sources say TSO is not back on “full duty.” The same officer, according to PPD sources, had a restraining order taken out on him by a separate woman (not the one in the “forced me to have sex with him while he was on duty” case). The second woman dropped her complaint soon after.
Another source confirmed the information. When The Planet ran the information by that other source, he/she responded: “That one is true. I think the woman was his girlfriend. She gave two versions of the story. You know how women get about these things. First, it’s ‘I hate that $%^&*#,’ then it’s, ‘well, he didn’t do anything.’”
Good Guy + Good Cop Don’t Necessarily = Good Chief
The Planet agrees that Chief Mike Wynn is a good guy. He is a good cop. We have had to now a good relationship based on mutual respect. Wynn is not, however, chief material. He may be command worthy, but to run the entire shebang?
Several PPD sources have been critical of Chief Wynn’s performance. To an extent, there’s a certain amount on Monday Morning Quarterbacking involved when you talk to the players that don’t like the way the team is run. However, it’s clear Wynn made a big mistake by not calling a press conference and at least making a statement. That’s when he lost control of the situation.
“Here’s what I would have done,” says a PPD source who, naturally, spoke on condition of anonymity. “I would have called a press conference. I would have shared the facts, including naming the federal agencies involved. I would have said, ‘We have evidence of steroids by one of our officers. We take this matter seriously. Steroids are illegal substances that cause great bodily and psychological harm. We investigated. We have determined that investigator David Kirchner engaged in criminal activity, based on our probe, and also acted in a way unbecoming for an officer.
‘He was given a five-day suspension without pay and placed back in uniform. I would like to comment more, but because of the pending investigations, that’s all I can say. I do want to tell the citizens of Pittsfield that we will take the steroids issue seriously and this department will tolerate no use.’”
On Vacation? You Kidding?
What irked sources the most was a report on Channel 9 news this morning where the reporter says when he or she attempted to reach the chief, they he was “on vacation.”
“If I was the chief, and I was on vacation,” one source said, “I would make it back to Pittsfield immediately and confront this head on. I’ve seen no indication that there’s been a coverup at all [regarding steroid use by PPD personnel, but it's been poorly handled. The chief has run away from this, and that starts rumors, when you don't tackle it head-on. It taints every good officer [in this building]. I had to go to Albany for two days of training on how to deal with the press. It was different before facebook, twitter, and [the rest of the social media]. When I started, we didn’t tell the press shit. Today, you got to confront these stories and be more open with the information.”
New Media Makes for a Brand New Ball Game
As The Planet has said, in terms of media, it’s a brand new ball game. Public officials need to realize this. Privacy (sadly) is a thing of the past, but the welcome adjunct of this is that bureaucratic and procedural secrecy is, as well. That’s a welcome development.
MORE TO COME FROM THE NAKED CITY. FOR NOW, LOVE TO ALL.