Thursday, November 10, 2005

Law Enforcement Losing Credibility

Day by day and year by year, the indictments and allegations of corruption grow against law enforcement and justice officials in the Cocke County community. A third indictment was just handed down against one deputy, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel, this time for witness tampering.

Too many area residents -- along with 1st District Congressman Bill Jenkins who complained In June of this year that the Feds are wasting time investigating illegal activities - say this is all a waste of time and resources. I suppose since the local law enforcement agencies turn a blind eye, Jenkins approves and does the same.

There are staggering amounts of crimes, convictions and allegations against many who are charged with serving and protecting and they are noted in a vast timeline, again reported by the Knox News Sentinel. While this Timeline does indeed go back to the latte 1960s, anyone who reviews the numerous allegations reported just in the last four to five years should be astonished at the range of the charges, which include federal civil rights violations, illegal gambling, drug trafficking, falsifying records, money laundering, prostitution, witness tampering and on and on it goes. The Newport Civil Service Board says these "good men" need tax payer dollars and called for their reinstatements.

Residents of this mountainous community have reason to be deeply disturbed about such a long history of allegations of corruptions and crime. But too many local officials just want to sweep all this under the rug and let the environment of corruption grow. While many of these allegations are being investigated, other criminal cases will likely be dropped due to a "lack of credibility" from law enforcement:

These officers are innocent until proven guilty under the law, but obviously these charges will hurt their credibility in court," Schmutzer writes. "If the officer's testimony is not critical to conviction or can be independently corroborated, we will prosecute it. Otherwise, it will have to be dismissed." Schmutzer asks for written statements from each of the officers indicating "whether or not they will testify" in pending cases despite the possibility that they could be questioned by defense attorneys about the federal charges. Schmutzer writes: "For these reasons I must ask that, if you intend to keep working these officers, they not be assigned to law enforcement or investigative duties that might require their testimony in future cases until their federal cases are resolved." Schmutzer says as many as 21 criminal cases may have to be dismissed in Cocke County due to credibility issues about the officers’ testimony but adds that the majority of the cases are misdemeanors."

The Newport newspaper, The Plain Talk, reported Wednesday that an employee with the county's ambulance service has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of taking drugs out of ambulance supplies:

... is alleged to have taken the drugs meperidine theft of morphine and Demerol from Allied’s drug supplies, according to the indictment.
The defendant is also alleged to have filled the empty drug vials with saline solution and returned them to the drug storage area, grand jurors allege. That action led to th charge of reckless endangerment of potential patients of the ambulane service who may not have received the medications they needed ...

County residents need to consider the thought their safety may be at risk.


  1. Newport has always been a wild place to tame.

  2. Lots of bad thangs can happen when you have tons of weed grown and lots of meth made and cops paid poorly... seems to make for redneck mob stuff ey?

    But Let's not forget some great stuff that came from Newport - some wonderful progressive stuff, early ON!! WILMA DYKMAN and her husband, James Stokely they got death threats for their writings, esp 'Neither Black or White'. They are/ were some wonderful people, writers and advocates. I understand she is an ALC in Asheville that she pretty much says 'sucks'. Bless her heart. She's one of my literary heros.

  3. Hamblen --

    Here is a quote from the Newport Plain Talk newspaper which I linked to above regarding the individual indicted, who worked with the ambulance service:

    "....employed by Allied EMS—the company which currently holds Cocke County’s contract to provide ambulance and emergency medical services—from May through June of this year when he is alleged to have taken the drugs meperidine theft of morphine and Demerol from Allied’s drug supplies, according to the indictment."

    So, Hamblen -- if Cocke County has contracted with Allied - then they are providers of ambulance service for that county.

    The facts are clear. The full story, which I linked to, has all these details.

  4. Anonymous1:45 PM

    True, an ambulance service paramedic was charged as stated. However, lumping those particular charges in with the decades long corruption of Cocke County is not fair. The incident occurred and was discovered within the ROUTINE check of all narcotics. This is not widespread corruption. Rather, it is the failings of one man which was caught, by the way, in a timely manner, using standard procedures in place to guard against just such an incident. If a nurse or doctor at the "COCKE COUNTY" Baptist Hospital was charged with narcotics theft, would you consider that to be part of the "government" corruption you rebuke in your blog? I think not. NO LAW ENFORCEMENT TIME WAS WASTED, at any level, investigating the ambulance service problem. Again, it was discovered and reported through standard operating procedures by the management of the ambulance service. While this paramedic should NEVER practice again, his mistake shouldn't smear the dozens he worked with, nor should it be considered part of Cocke County's "Dark Side".

    By the way, I couldn't agree more that the "good 'ol boy" system is alive and well in Cocke County and THAT is indeed shameful!!

    As one may guess, I must remain anonymous.