In the unfolding drama of political corruption in Cuyahoga County, where do the local forces of law enforcement fit into the picture?
The scandals we are learning about in 2009 have been going on for years and years.
Newspaper reports tell of FBI investigators cracking the case and federal prosecutors lining all the ducks in a row.
Without the FBI, would local law enforcement have ever brought the scandals to light? The scandals have been under the noses of local cops for a long, long time. Due to proximity to and familiarity with the prime suspects implicated in these scandals, local law enforcement officials should have pounced on the tell-tale warning signs a long time ago. What happened? Why isn’t this unfolding saga a tale of the heroism of local cops doing the right thing amidst a backdrop of graft? Were they looking the other way? Were key law enforcement officials complicit in covering things up? Are they, themselves, active participants in the scandalous behavior? Do they merely lack the tools to police these kinds of crimes?
Or, are local police organizations the unsung heroes of this purging of corruption? Are local police officers the ones who initiated the process that’s culminating in Federal prosecutions, but they aren’t getting any credit for it? Were they the ones who tipped off the FBI, realizing that the FBI could bring more resources to bear, and invited the FBI to widen a probe already begun by local police? In the ongoing FBI investigations, has the FBI continuously been furnished with crucial help from local police, without which, the FBI probe would have been doomed and gone nowhere? Have local police forces served as irreplaceable foot soldiers in this epic battle to beat back corruption? Has the FBI been absorbing the lion’s share of the credit for this crackdown when the local police are chiefly responsible for bringing the corruptocrats to justice?
Which, of these two competing pictures, is the true portrayal of the various police forces within Cuyahoga County?
Or is it messier than that? Is there a dichotomy of both heroic cops and dirty cops that, taken together, convey a murky picture of their overall role in breaking the case wide open?
How soon can we find out the answers to the questions I’m posing?
Why is it important to know the answers to the questions I’m posing? I can at least attempt to answer the immediately preceding question from looking at just one facet (though there are countless other facets to look at). Issue 3 will appear on Ohio’s election ballots this November, a proposal that would amend the Ohio Constitution to allow out-of-state entities to own and operate casinos in Cleveland, Toledo, Cincinnati, and Columbus. Ohio’s Fraternal Order of Police, a labor union for police officers, has gone on the public record urging passage of Issue 3. Police officers in those four cities constitute a huge chunk of the overall membership of Ohio’s FOP. Cops from Cleveland and its suburbs have an enormous amount of say in whatever endorsement decisions are made by Ohio’s FOP.
Considering the opacity of the casino industry, an opacity that makes casinos the preferred venue for money laundering, and considering the demonstrated proficiency that the gambling industry has for buying politicians, are local police forces up to the task of policing the casinos?
Can we trust the local police to enforce the transparency, accountability, and compliance with the laws that are needed to keep casinos honest and above-board?
UNLESS (that’s a big “unless”) the local cops are the true, unmitigated heroes in reining in the corruption of Cuyahoga County, I place no faith whatsoever in their endorsement of Issue 3.