Every time I read about the case of Tyler Kinney, the Colchester officer who faces federal drug and gun charges, the same thing keeps coming to mind.
How in the blue hell did this go on so long?
Here’s a guy who was on the force for twelve years, and occupied one of its most sensitive positions — keeper of the evidence locker — for two and a half years. He was stealing stuff out of the locker, he had a “heroin addiction for an extended period of time,” and he was sharing his swag with a career criminal with a rap sheet as long as your arm and two felony convictions.
On top of all that, Kinney’s addiction and malfeasance came to light accidentally, after an unrelated search of the career criminal’s home. Absent that coincidence, Kinney might have gone on stealing stuff and destroying God knows how many prosecutions that depended on secure evidence storage.
News coverage of the case, so far, has focused on Kinney himself. But what of the institutional framework around him?
The overarching question breaks down into two parts.
1. What kind of internal oversight does the Colchester police have on its evidence locker and the sole keeper thereof?
2. What is the department’s drug testing policy for its officers? Does it have any? How often does it conduct tests? What drugs does it test for?
And how are the tests conducted? Is the officer monitored while, ahem, providing a sample? Or is there opportunity to game the test via the Whizzinator route?
The Colchester Police Department should answer these questions in detail. Necessary reforms must be enacted. If internal policies were not followed, those responsible should answer for their inactions.
Lest we lay all of this at the feet of Colchester Police Chief Jennifer Morrison, allow me to note that she’s only been there for a little over a year. The previous Chief, Charles Kirker, who had been chief for the previous 34 years, needs to give some answers too. Especially in light of this sentence from a softball Burlington Free Press interview on the occasion of his retirement:
My philosophy has always been to delegate to subordinates because you allow them to grow.
Yeah, nothing could possibly go wrong with that.
Beyond Colchester, the same questions should be put to the Department of Public Safety. What are the standards for the State Police? Are there standards that local police agencies must meet?
If not, why not?
If a drug-addicted officer can occupy a critical position of trust for two and a half years, only to be caught by accident, then either there was a complete breakdown in the Colchester police, or there are systemic shortcomings that must be addressed.
That’s all. I’ll hand this over to the watchdogs of the media.