Friday, August 29, 2008

Maybe we were better off when he was asleep

A report in this morning's Trentonian outlines yet another incident involving Trenton Police Captain Paul "Captain Sleepy" Messina.

Messina reportedly "went off" on Sgt. Steve Wilson for arriving late to a training session. It didn't seem to matter to Capt. Messina that Wilson had worked until 3:30 in the morning and had notified his immediate supervisor of his expected tardiness.

And we're sure that this incident had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Sgt. Wilson earlier this week filed a complaint against another officer for failure to act during the chase and apprehension of suspect. That other officer, Sgt. Raul Virella, just happens to be part of former Police Director Santiago's "inner circle" along with Messina.

We can make all the wisecracks we want about this, but the fact is it has ceased to be funny.

The Police Department is charged with protecting and serving the public. While the majority of the men and women on the job are willing and able to do just that, the leadership of former Director Santiago has obviously made it extremely difficult for them.

Further, the mismanagement of the department under Santiago, Messina and their "circle of friends" has obviously placed the public as well as members of the department at risk. This has to stop now before someone, cop or civilian, gets seriously hurt.

We cannot tolerate the type of behaviors exhibited recently by the likes of Captain Messina and Sgt. Raul Virella.

In the case of the former, we have twice this month been treated to examples of his verbal abuse of other officers, his lack of professionalism and self-control (not good traits for someone authorized to carry a weapon). Captain Messina needs to be relieved of his weapon, his command of the academy, sent for a mental evaluation and given a substantial and meaningful suspension that includes the 30 days held in abeyance from a previous infraction.

As for Sgt. Virella, he obviously failed to uphold his sworn duties in refusing to assist in the apprehension of a fleeing suspect. A suspect, by the way, who had already assaulted and injured fellow officers!

Sgt. Virella should also be relieved of his position as the head of "professional standards" for the TPD and be suspended without pay (if you refuse to act as an officer, than you should not be paid as an officer).

The people of Trenton will not condone this kind of behavior from any police officer. Nor should the other members of the TPD have to worry about working with individuals who obviously are not suited for the job.

It's not a matter of politics or preference. It is a matter of public (and police) safety.

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