Jail Is Sort Of Like The Police Academy, Except For The 10000% Difference
A big item in the local news this week has involved the decision of the Mashpee Police Department to hire a new police officer who has served jail time in his past.
Ryan Nardone took the unusual route to a policeman's job.... the Academy, a cop job in New Hampshire, a savage attack on a man at a tavern, some time in the gaol, a cushy police job on Cape Cod... wait, what?
Nardone was a cop in Manchester, NH until he broke someone's jaw/eye socket in a bar fight. To be fair, there were allegations made of some physical contact between the victim (who was never charged with anything, TMK) and Nardone's girl. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail for it (he served 6 days of his sentence), which must have been very fun for a young cop. He was put on desk duty before he resigned his job with the Manchester force.
Now, he's armed and running unchecked through the streets of Mashpee. Don't worry, though... he's a cop. Citing Ryan's excellent test scores, some fine recommendations from his former boss, and a need for experienced officers, Mashpee Police Chief Rodney Collins hired Nardone for a patrolman job.
When a man does some crime, he serves some time. When he's done, he does deserve a chance to rebuild his life. I personally have had several students who went to jail, smartened the *uck up, and came out determined to make good. It's the Horatio Alger myth brought to life, with a bit of the Prodigal Son and even Pale Rider thrown in for good measure.
I also want it in the article somewhere early that I believe in a certain Code Of Honor which, to my knowledge, predates the entire USA. A chief part of this code is that, when a man takes out a woman (and especially when he engages to marry her), he enters into an unspoken agreement with the girl's parents that he will see to her well-being at all costs. If that means getting your ass kicked, changing her flat tire in the rain, or even doing a bit of time in the House of Pain... so be it. Officer Nardone passes this test of honor, and I honestly do believe it is very important.
However... and I don't live in Mashpee... but if I did, would I be happy with a job search that ended with an ex-con cop? When do we get the pyromaniac firefighter? Susan Smith as a babysitter? Charlie Sheen as Drug Czar?
I never seriously pondered Police Officer as a career. I'm not that tough, I lack the requisite patience, I hate confrontation, I smoke an ounce of marijuana a month, and I look rotten in polyester. I'm not sure exactly what qualifications are required of a police department applicant. I always just sort of assumed that a stint in jail disqualified you from police work.
It's fairly sound logic. I wouldn't hire a babysitter who had served time for assault, even if the assault was merited. A stint in jail is a sure sign that the person in question has the capability for a serious lapse in judgement. That's not the sort of person you want with the kids, and it certainly isn't the sort of person you want to strap a gun on and empower to mete out justice.
I also don't know how police jobs are advertised. I do know (or think I know) that there were over 80 applicants for the job, and that 19 of them were seriously considered. At least one applicant was offered the job before Nardone, but said applicant turned down the position. The position was then offered to Nardone, who signed on to Protect And Serve.
I'm amazed that the job could attract no better applicant than one from the wrong side of the bars. I'd love to get my hands on the list of applicants who were turned down. There must have been a wonderful mix of ill-it-urates, Reine brothers, girls who submit nude pictures of themselves, guys here illegally from Suriname, etc...
As for the tests... maybe it should be sort of like the opposite of what they say about getting 300 SAT points for writing your name. I'd say, that if the police test were scored like the SATs are, checking off the "served time in jail for an attack" box should be like Minus 500.
I'd hate to be an honest city cop who tries to get a Mayberry job, only to lose it to a guy fresh out of the joint for snuffing someone at a bar. It would make me wonder what sort of Blue Magic went on. Maybe Chief Collins owes someone a favor, or maybe he went to the Academy with Nardone's old boss back in the day. I mean that both negatively and positively, with the positive being that maybe Nardone's old boss knows more about this case than I do and wants a good kid to get a second chance.
I would rather have my town protected by Rorschach than have violent ex-cons policing it. I'd gamble on 23 cops being able to protect a town before hiring some nut as #24. It's potentially dangerous for the town. The Chief can laugh at all critical media and light his cigar with this article if he likes, but it won't be so funny if Nardone loses control again and beats down some mouthy kid in front of someone with a cell phone camera.
I have nothing personal against Nardone, and wish him all the best in his new job. I can't fault him for making the most of this opportunity. I do find a LOT of fault with Chief Collins, who may have conducted the world's worst applicant screening. If we need an ex-con cop in town, I'd prefer someone colorful like Suge Knight.
We already have a disgraced Wareham cop just one heartbeat away from being the Sheriff of Barnstable County. Now, we are emptying New Hampshire's jails to get our police force filled up. How low do you have to sink to be a cop on this Cape, anyhow?