Monday, August 30, 2010

Cell Phone Records Don't Lie

Russ McQuaid is still on the game-changing development in the Bisard fatal DUI crash, and the ramifications for the Ballard administration could not be more profound. I'm talking about McQuaid's exclusive report this past weekend detailing how Public Safety Director Frank Straub and IMPD Chief Paul Ciesielski were too consumed with salvaging Straub's deteriorating public image to pay any attention to the seriousness of David Bisard crashing his police cruiser into a pair of motorcyclists, killing one and leaving two others seriously injured. Cell phone records obtained by McQuaid confirm Assistant Chief Darryl Pierce had numerous cell phone conversations with Ciesielski while he and Deputy Chief Ron Hicks were at the crash scene. Pierce called Ciesielski a total of 8 times before the Chief summoned him and Hicks to leave the crash scene and come to IMPD headquarters to discuss a planned press conference to boost Straub's public image. Ciesielski acknowledged to McQuaid he had spoken to Pierce several times and understood it was a very serious matter.

Ciesielski and Straub were in a meeting discussing how to convey to the public there was no rift between IMPD's leadership and Straub when the two learned of the crash from Pierce. After summoning Pierce and Hicks to return to IMPD headquarters for a 1:00 meeting, the two were asked to stand behind Ciesielski at a 3:00 press conference as a show of unity and support for Straub, although both men declined to speak in support of Straub. Later, Straub and Ciesielski announced the demotion of the two men, along with Commander John Conley, who was also at the accident, for failing to communicate the seriousness of the Bisard situation to him and Straub, and for failing to take charge of the investigation at the accident scene. Straub and Ciesielski also removed Lt. George Crooks as head of the Fatal Alcohol Crash Team even though he was told not to go the accident scene. Investigators botched the collection of vital blood alcohol evidence which led the prosecutor's office to announce it was dismissing alcohol-related charges against Bisard even though those test results showed he was intoxicated by more than double the legal limit.

Pierce and Hicks have hired an attorney, Robert Turner, who is a former Public Safety Director under Mayor Bart Peterson, to challenge their demotions. Turner told McQuaid he's going to press Mayor Greg Ballard to review the two men's demotions. Ballard already told McQuaid over the weekend he was surprised to learn his two top public safety leaders were focused on Straub's public images problems rather than the Bisard investigation. It's not clear if Ballard is ready to throw the two men under the bus just yet, but politically, he may have no choice as this botched investigation threatens to single-handedly bring down his administration. He said Public Safety is Job One when he ran for mayor. He asked for and got control of the police department. Now he must step forward and show some leadership. The IPSE blog has a good analysis of the situation with which he is now confronted and what it means for his political future.


Marycatherine Barton said...

That is one thing neither of his two predecessors, Mayors Goldsmith and Peterson, wanted control of, namely our police department. Go for it, Ballard, and good luck.

Advance Indiana said...

Yeah, The downtown police brawl in 1996 helped sink Mayor Goldsmith's gubernatorial bid. He wound up losing Marion County to Frank O'Bannon that year by a significant margin.

Indy Student said...

Could you shed some light on what the 1996 brawl was and what caused it? I was only 10 at the time and wasn't exactly paying a lot of attention to local politics.

Advance Indiana said...

As I recall, a number of police officers had been given free tickets to an Indians game courtesy of the mayor. They drank at the game and then went downtown after the game and had some more to drink. At some point, they encountered people on the sidewalk to whom they were very obnoxious. A fight broke out. Racial slurs were spewed. And some people got roughed up pretty bad by the cops. That's the short version.

Cato said...

Here's a joke from those days:

Why did the cops leave the Indians game early?

To beat the crowd.

Ah, back in the day. Reminds me of when crap like the Smashing Pumpkins, Collective Soul and the Spin Doctors were current.

Craig said...

How come Russ McQuaid can get IPD cell phone records but the FBI can't get Brizzi and Durham bank and/or cell records??? HELLO???

Paul K. Ogden said...

Ah, Cato, you took the joke. I to this day still remember it.

Indy4U2C said...

I believe our Mayor is a good leader. I also believe he screwed up big time by bringing in a New York Liberal!

Straub's most noticable trait is CONTROL. TOTAL CONTROL. He doesn't realize that the public safety director is not the Fire Chief or Police Chief.

Straub also is an ego-maniac, as demonstrated by AI's outstanding report! Does anyone in Indianapolis remember the name of any prior public safety director? -they don't? Maybe that is because, like the Mayor's Chief of Staff, it is NOT a position of interest to the general public.

This public safety director blacks out the media and totally controls the police (as reported by AI). He is the face of police, even though he is not a policeman. He wants his name and face in the media exclusively.

Psychologists can tell us more about this behavior.

It is an affront to the city that Straub was detaining our Police Chief from attending to his duties and ordering the police chief to make Straub look better to the media.

The bottom line is: Straub is an extreme embarrassment to the best mayor we've had in many years. I hope the Mayor shows Straub the map to New York.

Frank Straub, you're not in New York.

Marycatherine Barton said...

An engine search, of "1996 police brawl in Indianapolis", will clue you in, Student and elders.

nss7038 said...

WPCNR POLICE GAZETTE. Special to WPCNR. November 12, 2009 UPDATED NOVEMBER 14, 2009 in italic type: Commissioner of Public Safety Dr. Frank Straub resigned from his position Friday by submitting a letter of resignation to the law department according to The Journal News, which reports Straub is leaving effective today. A call to city hall by WPCNR inquiring of the status of the Commissioner was not returned. However the Journal News report failed to indicate who was commanding the department.

Mayor Joseph Delfino told WPCNR Thursday evening that the resignation was effective next Tuesday. It is unclear now whether the Common Council will terminate him as they had intended to do Monday evening. The council could not fire him Monday evening anyway because unanimous consent is needed to consider an ordinance, and that was not likely forthcoming since Mayor Joseph Delfino and Councilman Glen Hockley are supporters of Straub.

Council President Benjamin Boykin told WPCNR Friday morning he would have no public comment on the Straub matter. Hum...seems he didn't fair too well there either. Trouble is he was announced as our NEW director on Dec. 16, 2009. Just a little more than one month from the time he was gonna be fired from NY. Who did the background on this guy?