In February, rookie Cincinnati Police Officer Elizabeth Phillips responded to a pair of car crashes but didn’t ticket anyone. That omission annoyed her boss, so Phillips wrote a pair of tickets. The drivers were long gone, however, so she decided to forge their signatures on the ticket and throw away their copies.
This made it appear that both drivers had signed a promise to appear in court when in fact they didn’t even know they’d been cited for traffic violations. When neither one showed up on the assigned court date, the judge issued warrants for their arrest.
To the credit of the Cincinnati police, when one of the drivers complained, the department investigated and figured out what happened. Phillips was arrested for the forgery and fired from the police department.
All may not be as it seems, however. Although Phillips was arrested, the grand jury refused to indict her. That’s amazing, considering that grand juries are usually accused of being so under the prosecutor’s thumb that they’ll indict a ham sandwich. But apparently not a lying cop. Almost makes you wonder how hard the prosecutor was trying.
Phillips had another good piece of “luck.” Even though she was arrested in May, her disciplinary hearing wasn’t until September, and she wasn’t fired until October. Conveniently for her, that was 2 weeks after her probationary period ended, which means she was covered by the police union contract. The union has brought the matter to arbitration.
I suppose it’s possible Phillips the rookie cop didn’t realize the consequences of her act. Like any bureacracy, the police department probably has a lot of red tape, and maybe she thought this was just another case of fudging some useless bit of paperwork.
Then again, given how the department seems to be covering for her after the fact, maybe Cincinnati cops do this sort of thing all the time, and she just made the mistake of doing it to someone in a position to make a fuss about it.
While we’re trying to figure that out, consider this astounding quote from the Cincinnati Enquirer story:
“I can’t think of anybody who was fired for (non-criminal) reasons whose job we haven’t gotten back,” said Kathy Harrell, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 69, the Cincinnati police union.
Do you think Harrell realizes what she just said? Apparently, once you’re a Cincinnati police officer, the only way your job performance could be bad enough to get you fired is if you are convicted of a crime. If you just suck at being a cop, you have nothing to worry about.