Chief Scolds Cop For Trash Talk
by Thomas MacMillan | Sep 14, 2012 4:33 pm
Five months after he cursed out garbage collectors who were blocking the road with their truck, Detective Jeff Goodwin received a written reprimand from the chief.
The reprimand was the result of an internal affairs investigation into a heated March 22 encounter between a cop and two city Department of Public Works employees. The investigation found that Goodwin engaged in conduct unbecoming of an officer.
Click here to read the IA report and a letter from Police Chief Dean Esserman, released Friday in response to a Freedom of Information request by the Independent.
On the morning of March 22, Goodwin was on his way to an extra-duty job when he encountered a trash truck partially blocking Quinnipiac Avenue, according to the IA report. He ordered the truck to pull over, then had a expletive-laden exchange with three trash collectors.
Goodwin told an investigator that the DPW workers disobeyed his orders and disregarded his authority while creating a dangerous situation for drivers trying to get around their truck. The trash collectors said they were just doing their job the way they had for years, and that the cop was on a “power trip.”
After the incident, Goodwin applied for arrest warrants for two of the workers, Eric Salters and Eric Chambers-Jones (pictured). They were arrested and spent four hours in jail on April 9.
Michael Jefferson, Chambers-Jones’ lawyer, said the charges of interfering, reckless endangerment, and disorderly conduct were later reduced to an infraction for creating a public disturbance.
According to the IA report, public works supervisors heard Goodwin yelling profanity at Salters and Chamber-Jones after Salters “keyed the microphone on the garbage truck’s dispatch radio.”
Public works supervisor Richard Christensen told IA investigator Detective William Cruz that he heard someone yelling, “Get the fuck to the side of the road.”
John Savino, another DPW supervisor, told Cruz that he heard someone yelling, “Get the fuck out of the truck right now, I’ll fucking arrest you!”
Alwyne Smith, the third trash collector working with Salters and Chambers-Jones, also reported that Goodwin used profanity, according to a transcript of an interview by Cruz. Salters confirmed the cursing in a written statement to Cruz.
According to Smith, when the trash collectors didn’t pull the truck over, Goodwin said “You see this badge? I’m your boss. I’m your boss and I tell you what to do.”
According to a transcript of Cruz’s IA interview of Goodwin, the detective said the workers ignored him when he ordered them out of the street. “He just ignored me talking to the driver. They were kind of smirking, laughing to each other. I ordered them, I think a couple of times to get out and he just took his time and slowly strutted across to the front of the vehicle.”
In the transcript, Goodwin recounts how he later conferred with a colleague and a supervisor who advised him to arrest the workers. “I really wanted to arrest these guys because of their total ignorance of my authority and also how they put the public safety at risk.”
“In my hearing with Goodwin, Goodwin explained that his use of strong language, including cursing, was necessary given that the two Public Works employees failed to comply with his lawful orders,” Esserman wrote in his letter ordering the official reprimand of Goodwin. “Goodwin failed to acknowledge, in retrospect, that he might have handled the investigation differently if given the opportunity. ... The most prudent use of Investigative Services would have been to leave the complaint with the management of the Department of Public Works.
“For the way in which he conducted the Public Works investigation, Detective Jeffrey Goodwin is hereby given a written reprimand.”
Attorney Jefferson said he’s happy with the outcome of the IA probe. “I’m satisfied with the job the chief is doing thus far on reeling in this type of behavior among his officers.”
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“I really wanted to arrest these guys because of their total ignorance of my authority and also how they put the public safety at risk.”
first, respect his authority.
second, don’t put the public’s safety at risk.
well, at least he has his priorities straight.
posted by: streever on September 14, 2012 6:07pm
Power tripping bad attitude. Don’t put a bad name on all officers.
When you act unreasonable, people doubt your authority. If you are in a position of power and wield it responsibly and humanely, people respect you.
A simple lesson that this officer has apparently not learned.
Odd that the is no comment by the Police Union , sevens that a lack of leadership continues
For now on if you are on the job, on your way to a job, or on your way home from a job and see a violation or a safety concern-why should a cop stop? Why bother? Why protect public safety when you get warned for it. Let these garbage people kill someone. Keep driving. I love when they park in the middle of the street. Like these garbage people never heard a bad word in their lives? Like they did nothing to instigate? Didn’t see that side of the story. Cops- keep driving because in this world no one cares. Until THEY need you. Then it’s a different story. Whats this chiefs street experience???? Hummmmmm Never really heard of any.
If you read the written reprimand, it says nothing about any department policy being violated. The letter states that Detective Goodwin acknowledged he used cussing words, which is not a violation. It also states he failed to feel he could have have dealt with the situation differently, which is not a violation. That said, Chief Esserman created a written reprimand to appease the city workers, because he’s a politician, not a cop.
A judge signed Detective Goodwin’s warrant fort the arrest of the trash collectors, supporting a lawful act. Detective Goodwin chose not be politically correct by looking the other way. He most likely used profanity because the trash collectors weren’t responding to properly spoken words. The only reason the trash collectors are making a big deal about the profanity is because they were arrested, “man up guys”. I doubt this was the first time they heard cussing words.
The only message that Chief Esserman is sending, is for his cops to allow city employees to violate the laws at the public’s cost. So the next time you’re stuck in traffic behind a trash collector because their violating the law in order to get off of work early, thank Chief Esserman. Politically, he feels they have more rights than the general public. And if you get an urge to use profanity at the workers, please remember they may be sensitive.
@ Another Thought:
If using cuss words and getting a full-scale arrest warrant to deal with such a petty dispute aren’t in violation of departmental policy, they should be.
I’d love you to provide statistics on how many people garbage collectors have killed in the 350 year history of this city.
@ another thought
I think you are missing the point best stated by Streever and downtown dweller.
There are different ways to handle situations- man with gun- “get on the f’in ground”
Petty squabbles- “you really need to pull over so we can to discuss this” and then insist.
Treat others as you yourself expect to be treated. (i.e with respect)
BTW most Judges will take an officer’s word on a warrant- as they should- so its not like this went through a scrutinizing process. The system has hiccups.