Corrupt police: beat it

By Joe Holden
April 5, 2001

Life is all about making mistakes. Learning from mistakes teaches us about accomplishment.

Philadelphia Police Captain James Brady made a huge mistake when he crashed his unmarked police cruiser into another car while intoxicated.

Even more dumb was his mistake to allow a subordinate to cover up the scene. Instead of it being a case of drunk driving, it was now about Brady losing control of his car and side swiping a SEPTA El support beam.

Brady had drank beyond his limit at Finnigan’s Wake. He left his briefcase with his loaded gun behind.

He got into his mid- `80s Dodge and proceeded to allegedly wet his pants and hit a parked car. Brady’s collision caused his airbag to inflate. He continued to drive with the airbag deployed until he was stopped some ten blocks later by a patrolman.

The patrolman summoned then Lieutenant Joseph DiLacqua for assistance. DiLacqua orchestrated a cover up of the accident scene. The outcome placed Brady in a fender bender.

This incident happened 3 years ago.

The Philadelphia Inquirer broke the story of the coverup one week ago Sunday.

Since that time, the district attorney has launched a full-scale investigation and the police department is again labeled corrupt amidst the Brady scandal.

Brady made a mistake.

Other department officials became involved and more mistakes were made.

Brady and DiLacqua were both suspended for 20 days. Both commanders sacrificed extra vacation time to cushion the light sentence.

This was reportedly Brady’s first offense on record with the department. Brady was one of the most visible officers on the force. He often appeared on the news. He would speak about his homicide department’s progress in piecing together a murder.

On the other hand, DiLacqua had been disciplined nine previous times for various offensess, including abuse of power as an officer.

An employee of any company should be allowed to make a mistake ONCE. This was Brady’s one-time mistake. Now the learning must begin.

Mayor John Street cowed under pressure and ordered Police Commissioner John Timoney to remove the two officers from their posts and place them on nightwork, often a cooler for errant officers.

Timoney has run his department based on the make-a-mistake once and don’t backtrack theory. He used this theory intially with Brady and DiLacqua by giving them light sentences.

The pressure from Street and other politicians has affected Timoney and his ability to run an organized and fair department.

But what about DiLacqua? This was his tenth abuse of power and he remains a high-ranking officer who only received a slap on the wrist. For having goofed up ten times, DiLacqua should have been transferred to the dog pound and put in charge of controlling the pet population.

Society can ill afford to allow corrupt officials to remain in power.

A wise man once said “You cannot simultaneously prepare for and prevent war.” Public officials cannot be allowed to simultaneously prevent and commit crimes.

The Philadelphia Police Department has seen its share of corruption in the past 10 years. Timoney was right to have suspended Brady for 20 days, but DiLacqua should have been done away with.

Making mistakes reinforces the learning process and keeps us alert and in check with what we are doing.

Think about it through the eyes of Brady’s family and friends: Give him another chance.

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Joe Holden

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