Editorials

Police chief, prosecutor kept a secret

Two local public servants in their last days in office share a cloud of shame:





Only now, after Halstead made comments to a Star-Telegram reporter complaining about the DA’s office, has a Shannon assistant become so upset that he told the whole truth.

This Editorial Board has largely stood up for both Halstead and Shannon on past issues. There is no room for misplaced confidence this time around. The behavior of both has been shameful.

Caught in the middle are nine police officers who were fired or resigned in 2010 after being accused of falsifying government records to collect overtime under a federal/state Selective Traffic Enforcement Program grant.

Eight of them could face federal charges.

But they also were indicted, between May 2011 and May 2012, on state charges.

In May 2013, defense attorneys Mike Ware and Terri Moore moved to dismiss charges against one of the officers, alleging that the Police Department had a quota that required officers working under the STEP grant to issue a set number of tickets.

In January 2014, the DA’s office dropped the state charges. Assistant District Attorney David Lobingier said in a news release that the dismissal was due to “unavailability of witnesses, lack of memory by certain witnesses of the events underlying this offense, and new evidence.”

That was not the whole truth.

Halstead announced Nov. 11 that he will retire in January to start a consulting business. Shannon did not run for re-election and will also leave office in January.

In an interview with Star-Telegram reporter Deanna Boyd about his announcement, Halstead discussed the traffic ticket cases and blamed prosecutors’ 3 1/2-year delay for the dismissal.

That was not the whole truth.

The blame game angered Lobingier.

In an interview, he disclosed that the cases were dropped because the city’s STEP contract with the state set “target numbers” by which officers were expected to increase arrests and citations.

Lobingier said that’s a quota and is illegal under state law. He said his chain of command at the DA’s office agreed to dismiss the cases for that reason, and Halstead was so informed at the time.

Why didn’t he say so in his January news release?

Lobingier says Halstead asked him to not make the city look bad.

For the sake of appearances, prosecutor and police chief conspired to keep a secret. Lobingier then omitted the whole truth from his news release.

As all of this left the reputations of nine police officers to continue twisting in the wind.

That’s shameful.

  Comments