The Police Protect Their Own, Part Eleventy-Billion

The guy responsible for this little piece of… art… has been allowed to leave his post at the Vermont State Police with a face-saving resignation. And that doesn’t sit well with Nancy Sheahan, the longtime head of the State Police Advisory Commission, a body not known for taking a harsh line against the Beings in Blue.

The background: In early February it came to light that state troopers had used racist, ableist and misogynist language while playing a rap battle-inspired computer game. After an initial hiccup, VSP Chief Jennifer Morrison launched an internal investigation. A month and a half later two of the troopers — Nathan Greco and Nathan Jensen — resigned, which is lightning speed for a situation like this. The VSP described the resignations as “voluntary,” but added that the SPAC had agreed with Morrison that the troopers’ actions warranted discipline “up to and including termination.”

Now comes Sheahan, calling bullshit. The Commission issued a statement on Tuesday saying that the troopers should have been fired outright. VTDigger reports that Sheahan said “it was atypical for her and her colleagues to make such a public statement,” which, no shit, Sherlock. “But, she said, ‘We felt really strongly about this case, and we wanted it out there how we viewed it and what advice we offered.'”

In other words, Morrison let her two former employees off easy and tried to use the Commission as cover. Slick.

Morrison tried to paper over Sheahan’s dissent by saying the important thing was the troopers were gone, who cares about the details, on to Cincinnati*.

Sheahan sort of joined in the papering campaign, but let it be known the crack in the wall was still there. She said the Commission had confidence in the VSP investigation, whose staffers did “an excellent job of finding out everything they could about this situation.”

Got it? Sheahan praised the investigation, not what the VSP brass did with the situation.

Anyway, situation resolved, right? Well, I have questions.

First of all, what happened with the other two troopers who were playing the game along with Greco and Jensen? From previous accounts, we know that at least three participants used offensive language and adopted questionable-at-best screen names. We don’t know why the investigation focused on Greco and Jensen, and we probably never will.

My second point I’ve raised before:

To me, the real scandal isn’t how Morrison responded to a sketchy complaint. It’s how the hell do we have this caliber of people in our state police? How selective are we? Are applicants tested for biases that might impact their performance or the department’s reputation? Do they have to show they can write in complete sentences that make sense? (“Go get a anal beads”?) And what kind of locker-room mentality exists in the department that would make these guys think their behavior was acceptable?

…Do we have to change our recruitment strategy so we stop hiring meatheads to dispense justice?

Those are the kinds of questions the SPAC ought to be asking. Not to mention Chief Morrison or, lest we forget, Gov. Phil Scott. If the VSP is employing the likes of Greco and Jensen, it may have a serious culture problem on its hands. Will it press forward with these more fundamental issues? Or will it be happy to put this matter in the rear view as quickly as possible?

I think we know the answer to those two questions.

*Bill Belichick, notoriously prickly New England Patriots head coach, stonewalled a 2014 press conference after an embarrassing 2014 loss by responding to questions with “We’re on to Cincinnati,” where the next game would be played. Morrison has now joined him on the road to Ohio’s Queen City.

4 thoughts on “The Police Protect Their Own, Part Eleventy-Billion

  1. Deb

    The most disturbing part of this story is that there are people defending the 2 cops, saying that they should bring a lawsuit against the state for violating their right to “free speech”. The argument being that they should be able to say whatever despicable, disparaging things against any marginalized or minority group they want when they’re off duty in the privacy of their own home.

    Their defenders are being purposefully ignorant to not acknowledge that it’s impossible for the public to trust that these 2 cops wouldn’t be biased against certain people or groups based on their private “speech”. Biased cops often make bad decisions in policing. Time for these people to take their heads out of the sand—these 2 cops are the “bad apples” that they continually reference.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      They have every right to say brutally offensive things. They just don’t have the right to avoid professional repercussions when they hold positions of public trust. Or any position at all, for that matter. People get fired for saying stuff all the time.

  2. Vermont Duplicity

    Nancy Sheehan finds it convenient to promote herself while at the same time attempting to elevate her dubious character. Nancy is also a partner in CSC investigations of Burlington, and academic investigation and municipal investigating law firm which conducts so-called independent investigations for offending academic institutions such as are sadly and yet commonly found in Vermont. Both McNeil Leddy and Sheahan law firm and CSC investigations, are the law firms retained by kurn hattin homes for children to conduct their so-called independent investigation into alleged and documented child abuse that has allegedly occurred over decades and generations in Vermont in the town of Westminster and allowed by complicit bystanders, including as has been alleged, the Vermont State Police and the Windham county sheriff and the department for children and families in Vermont. No wonder Vermont is currently enduring among the highest rates of pathological social ills in the United States of America. Such things are well documented to have roots in childhood trauma. You question Nancy Sheahan’s motivation for making her recent declarations, her self-serving declarations public. Perhaps Vermont should be asking where is the public disclosure of the so-called independent kurn hattin investigation and which kurn hattin itself agreed to publicly release into decades of documented abuse in state public records that the state conveniently refuses to release. It took more than 2 years for those two law firms to complete the kurn hattin investigation. As predicted and as confirmed by an attorney, the investigation has been called a whitewash of the abuse that has been stated to have been perpetrated at the 130 year old residential school for children in Westminster Vermont. When will Vermont’s complicit silence end?

  3. Travis

    This article seems more like it’s intended to fuel the commissioned vs the SPAC than info on the actual investigation itself


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