Friday, April 28, 2006

Galluccio and Paper Cuts

As tempting as it is to think political privilege in the absurd dismissal of the charges against Anthony Galluccio, we suspect the real basis is constabulary indolence. If the Boston Police who responded to the wreck on December 18th, 2005, were not so damned lazy, this clown would not be smirking today.

In case you didn't follow this, a would-be Massachusetts Senator and former Cambridge mayor, Anthony Galluccio, got a free ride on DUI charges from a December wreck he admitted causing. He plowed into multiple cars on a warm, dry night, and claimed "black ice." The victims and other witnesses, including EMTs said it was plain he was drunk.

The Boston cops couldn't be bothered to test him for alcohol. They would have done nothing criminally except for an initial and a follow-up piece by Channel 5. That made the police consider the many witnesses (but not their own incompetence). This week a clerk magistrate dismissed the case for lack of evidence.

Well, duh. The magistrate may or may not have had political motivation in dismissing this. Understandably much has been and will be made of the smarmy candidate getting off.

We see a different issue, on that affects far more people, far more frequently. The city cops have active and lazy members. Far too many are of the no-blood-no-ticket, and let-the-insurance-companies-handle-it variety. If they don't have to fill in investigative reports or go to court for a trial, their lives are easier, they don't risk unpaid duties, and then there are those nasty paper cuts.

Personal Relation

I just finished with my own version of police inertia. I'll have to blog the whole thing, but meanwhile:
  • A little over three years ago, I was headed to work in Burlington from JP just before 5 a.m. in the rain.
  • I was on Boylston Street by the hospitals headed for Storrow Drive.
  • About half a block from Jimmy Fund Way at Children's Hospital, I saw the light turn green. The truck in the left lane raced ahead and I was going about 20 mile an hour.
  • As I got to the intersection, a large delivery truck came down the hill, skidded around the corner and pulled directly in front of me, straddling the two lanes.
  • I braked, but could not avoid hitting the left wheel well with my car's right front bumper.
  • The driver got out. He looked high, like on speed. He laughed a few times, apologized and said that he just went on through the red light.
  • I called the police, who arrived in under 10 minutes.
  • My car was not drivable. The bumper cover was dangling and the quarter panel would have cut into the tire. It was clearly several thousand dollars damage -- above the requirement for investigation, although there wasn't even a visible scratch on the truck.
  • He altered his story slightly for the cops, saying that he had slowed and made sure the way was clear.
  • The cops were already saying it was an insurance matter, an accident only.
  • I pointed out that he had run a red light, appeared high, and admitted that he had caused the wreck.
  • A man the driver knew came out of the hospital for a cigarette, saw him and called him over. When the driver returned, his story was suddenly that he had stopped for the red light and only proceeded when the way was clear. I suppose that meant that my car materialized by magic.
  • One cop said that since I had run into the back of the truck...blah, blah. Then he looked at the damage to my car and where it had to hit the truck, and then admitted it would only have happened that way if the truck has pulled out in front of me.
  • The short of it is that the cops hopped back in their car, told us to fill out accident reports and drove off, leaving me in the rain to arrange my own towing.
  • Then we have the Galluccio moment, a few days short of three years after the wreck, I got a summons for a law suit. The driver was claiming that I had run a red light and slammed so hard into his vehicle that he was permanently disabled.
  • After months of filling out responses and wasting everyone's time and money, I found that the insurance company lawyer had responded well. A judge dismissed the case with prejudice.
There is the scat left when lazy cops, who care little for public safety, are on duty. If they can't be bothered to fill in the paperwork and be willing to go to a trial for negligent drivers, we all can suffer from insurance fraud, and the additional drain transferred to the innocent.

Don't tell me that two BPD officers at 5 a.m. are too busy chasing gun-toting thugs. They were not. Don't tell me that it not their duty to take bad drivers off the road. It is.

Back to Tony

I don't believe those cops that night were giving a politician a pass. I think they couldn't be bothered to risk paper cuts or having to think. They couldn't be bothered to do their jobs. They taint good cops.

Oddly enough, I live on a block with that other kind of cop. He does his duty. He and his wife also run the kid's athletic programs here. He was the first city bicycle cop. On and on, and believe it or not, he even signals turns when he drives a cruiser.

I have no question that if he had arrived in the rain at 5 a.m., my outcome would have been quite different, as would Galluccio's.

The cops union and their management, particular Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole, can change this attitude. It won't happen in a flash or even a few months. But if the police know that pretending that they are all Dick Tracy after murderers is not enough, we'd be safer. If they'd do a little investigation and paperwork, they'd save the public thousands of hours, great anguish and millions of dollars.

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