Friday, November 24, 2006

IPD Police Chief On Irsay's Payroll

The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy tells us today that IPD Police Chief Mike Spears has a second job providing security for Jim Irsay's Colts football team. Everyone except Mayor Peterson and Spears sees the problem with this relationship. O'Shaughnessy writes:

Police experts said moonlighting is common for officers but rare for a police chief because it could put the person who most represents public safety in a city in a compromising position.

If, for example, a player were to get into trouble with the law, it could appear as if the team was paying the chief to win special treatment, experts said.

Spears said he doesn't think his outside employment, which is done on his own time, poses a conflict of interest, and he rejected any notion that it could lead to preferential treatment for a Colts player.

He said he has worked at Colts games since 2000, though he does not expect to continue doing so after he becomes chief of the merged city and county department next year.

"My first responsibility is to the Indianapolis Police Department and always has been and always will be," said Spears, a 25-year veteran. "Should anybody conduct themselves in a way that is illegal, nothing will be swept under the carpet. I pride myself on my integrity."

Mayor Bart Peterson and Public Safety Director Earl Morgan said they didn't see any problem with Spears or other top officers following guidelines for outside employment.

Peterson said he has confidence in Spears' judgment and integrity.

"It's the same opportunity available to every other officer," Peterson said. "The key point is that he does it on his own time."

Abdul Hakim-Shabazz was discussing this very topic this morning on his WXNT radio show when a person called in who identified himself as a local law enforcement officer. The caller recounted a physicial altercation a very prominent Colts player had recently with a law enforcement officer following a traffic accident. The caller said that the Colts player had contacted Spears directly on his cell phone a short time after the altercation complaining about the police officer's conduct. How many people do you know who have a direct line to the police chief?

It seems to me that the concern for potential conflicts, such as those arising when players get into trouble with the law, extends to the team's owner as well. Some of you may recall the WTHR investigation from several years ago which uncovered years of prescription drug abuse by Colts owner Jim Irsay. While Roger Harvey's report back at the time reported that both federal and local law enforcement officials were investigating Irsay, the matter was quietly dropped without any charges against Irsay. Irsay has made very large campaign contributions to area politicians of both political parties over the years, including Mayor Bart Peterson.


Anonymous said...

It's been done by police chiefs or top brass since the Colts came to town. Doesn't make it right, but...

I don't have a huge problem with it, as long as the police official discloses what he makes doing it. And recuses himself from any activity that involves at Colts or Pacers official or player. And takes vacation or personal time when performing the task.

Put it all on the table.

And the player who made that phone call should be outed. Big time. Now. I heard the call on Abdul's show, too. I'm wondering if Abdul was used.

Throwing a random charge like this out there, without solid follow-up questions: who was the player? When? Was the charge reduced or dismissed, which the officer would flat-out know. Abdul has been "had" before because he either doesn't ask the rigiht follow-up, or, more often, he's not been here long enough to know the landscape and ask the right question. He's still the best reporter in town, bar none.

Sorry, that last line was just for me. (giggle)

Regardless, this activity is ridiculous if not properly reported and disclosed. The City-County Council (when can we ever stop calling it City-County?) can adopt rules on this if it desires.

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon, The caller did identify the player. I have not read anything reported about the incident so I did not repeat the player's name. It was a serious allegation. If what the caller said was true, I can assure you that if it had happened to either one of us, we would have been arrested on the spot. I think it is particularly troublesome that Spears is going out of town with the team on weekend's for this work. The police chief shouldn't be leaving town unless he's on vacation, attending to a family or personal matter or attending to official business.

Anonymous said...

Peterson and Irsay are not the good God loving Christians they would like you to believe. My deepest gut feeling tells me that each of them loves money and power more than their fellow man (or taxpayer).

My Mayor should not think it is fine for his Chief of Police to run security for the Colts (not unless he has something to personally gain by it or is giving Irsay yet another owed favor).

And it seems that Irsay is not above paying for protection for his God loving, Colts.

I read comments on another Indiana blog that named the player. I smell corrupt politics and hope those with the right connections get to the bottom of it and let "We, the Taxpayers" know the facts as they come to light.

I knew there was a reason why I had such a strong negative reaction to Jim Irsay's in-home interview on WISH-TV. Irsay seemed insincere in his regard to love of God and his personal faith. My gut told me that interview was nothing more than a PR piece for the Colts and Irsay.

Somebody is in bed with our money. My bet is on Irsay and Peterson and I'd like to know what is going on behind closed doors.

Anonymous said...

Once again "conflict of interest" is distorted. A conflict of interest exists or does not. It is no defense to say "I would never do the wrong thing." That does not remove the conflict; nor does it remove the suspicion of occasion for wrong doing.

The police chief, like all police officers, is a sworn officer and never off duty. I believe that makes it impossible for him, or any other officer, ever to be in a position to take employment where his employer could come in conflict with the officer's duty. Moreover justice should not only be done, but be seen to be done. How many residents of Indianapolis will believe, mistakenly or not, that the chief could wonder if he might lose his moonlighting position if he took the citizen's side against a Colt in a dispute (even when he is "on duty"), and might be tempted to short change their rights to perserve it?

It goes both ways: Jim Irsay might wonder if a moonlighting police officer might bend over backward to appear impartial, injuring the interests of the team. Might the officer charge an erring player more severly that an ordinary citizen to be able to say "See, no favoritism"?

That is why conflicts of interest are to be avoided. You do not have to do anything wrong, there is nothing you can do to satisfy everyone that your actions are not colored by one interest (the job with the Colts) against your duty to the other(the police chief's duty to the public) without leaving an impression among some people that you have instead improperly favored the other side.

Anonymous said...

I listened to most of the caller on Abdul's radio show today, and I must've missed the football player's name. I heard the LEO say twice the Colt was a linebacker so, knowing some of them, I hazarded a guess.

Twice, Abdul baited the caller, but I didn't hear a name. If you did, please post it.

Abdul joked that whatever size the speeder was, a taser would work on him. The caller didn't bite.

That, and other reasons, make me believe the caller was not truthful.

I don't care, mind you--but it sounded like a setup to me. If this speeder got away with it, most of the police officers I've read on IndyUndercover and other blogs, and heard on radio call-ins, would rush to tell the final outcome of the case. They whine at the drop of a hat. After all, if the ticket did get dismissed, it adds credibility to the "officer's" complaint, doesn't it?

I still think the chief should disclose the moeny earned outside his job, and recuse himself from any difficult situations which arise with the team.

But I doubt the city could legally force him to give up the gig.

Whether he should want to is another thing altogether...

Anonymous said...

The Indianapolis Police Department report of the incident, which by the way is a Public-record document, is filed under Case # IP03123256. The case is almost 3 years old, although after the Star opened (FINALLY) the smelly relationship between Chief Spears and the Colts, well...I wouldnt be at all surprised if the report "disappeared" just like the VHS tape mentioned in the report.

Interestingly, I gave a hard copy of the report to 2 local news reporters. Although THEY salivated at the idea of a corruption investigation, they told me their bosses/editors had killed the story. Maybe now, with some blood in the water ie the relationship between your Chief of Police and the Colts, perhaps SOME editor will show some courage and integrity and root this story involving MARVIN HARRISON #88 and Patrol Officer Greg Burge..and the subsequent removal of the evidence tape out of the property room by (then) Assistant Chief of Police Mike Spears, OUT for EVERYONE to see, and decide upon.

Anonymous said...

This is why I no longer care about this country, state, or city. Every human who acts like they want to help and lead are really out for themselves. Unless things change drastically over the next decade or so, this country will not last. We have lawmakers giving themselves lifetime healthcare. We have national sports organizations paying players on the low end of $250K, while building their playgrounds on the backs of taxpayers. We have political hacks that now claim that we should pay our lawmakers more, even though some already make well over $100K in public sector jobs such as teaching and running colleges/universities. This is sickening. I work for a very political organization. This is why I do NOT have any care for my supervisors. If a few of our executive admin died tommorow, I would not attend the funeral unless I got paid. I only go to their retirement parties for the free food, and usually do not say word to them. I have seen just how corrupt government can be.

There is no way we can continue to allow these people to rape the citizens over and over again. A head law enforcement official needs to be in town and available. He should get a set amount of vacation when his 2nd in command should be required to be in town and in charge. Working off-duty in another state...are you kidding me!! If he doesn't get paid enough, then maybe he should ask for that map to Columbus, OH and quit. Folks wonder why the cops continue to want more money. It is because they see a select elite group of political hacks who are pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars and making pacts with millionaire elites so they can have a nice cush retirement gig somewhere.

The only way to save this country is:

#1: Term limits for ALL political offices all over the country. Kill the good 'ol boy network.

#2: Mandate smaller government. Have open meetings and have intenet access to issues and other things.

There are many others, but term limits would help a lot to save this country.

Anonymous said...

The officer did provide a name and I did some follow later that day. There was some kind of incident between Marvin Harrison and some members of IPD, but it wasn't this season. Aparently, Harrison's cousin was driving Harrison's vehicle when he reportedly got into an accident in`a parking garage. The usual mass confusion begins, Harrison comes to scene, and you know the rest.

As much as I like a good story, I have a responsibility to the audience and the community to not be reckless with charges and counter charges. It's a fine line at times, but one I have to walk everyday.

In a perfect world we would pay officers enough so they wouldn't need a part-time job. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world.


Gary R. Welsh said...

Abdul, Thanks for sharing that. If you were able to gather these facts, why wasn't the Star. It seems there would have been a lot more to the story had they included the Marvin Harrison account.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused, now, AI...who was the player that the officer caught for speeding, which was mentioned on Abdul's show?