Last week, The MetroWest Daily News reported this disturbing story about a Worcester police officer who was arrested and charged with home invasion, assault and battery, breaking and entering, trespassing and threatening to commit a crime:
According to a police report filed in Westborough District Court on Thursday, the veteran Worcester Police officer went to his ex-wife’s Shady Lane home on June 17 and began banging on the door, yelling to be let in while yelling profanities.
The report said his ex-wife would not let him in, so Stout forced a kitchen window screen open and climbed through.
"According to (the ex-wife) her ex-husband was in his full Worcester Police Department uniform at the time he forced his way into her house and he did have his gun, which was holstered in his belt/waist area," the report said.
Stout then went to a bedroom, where he attacked his ex-wife’s "companion" by "grabbing him by the neck and punching him several times, striking him in the face and neck area," the report said.
Throughout the attack, Stout yelled "I will kill you," repeatedly. When the assault was over, Stout told the man he would "murder" him if the man was ever around Stout’s family again, the report said.
Despite the serious charges Stout is facing, the police department is still paying him:
Stout, who has been with the Worcester Police Department for 16 years, is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal police investigation, Worcester Police spokesman Sgt. Kerry F. Hazelhurst said.
We see this sort of thing all the time. Police officers are accused of misconduct or criminal behavior and the department they work for puts them on administrative leave, but continues to pay them their lucrative salaries (police are some of the highest paid government employees in Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and other communities).
In recent memory, Massachusetts police have been given paid leave while facing allegations including everything from multiple assaults and rapes, to drunken hit-and-run accidents, to stealing military-grade explosives.
This paid time off can last for months, and sometimes even years. For instance, during 2012 and 2013, a West Springfield police captain was on paid leave for almost two years at a salary of about $104,000 while under investigation for several allegations of misconduct, including allegations that he abused several people in his custody.
There is no reason that police who are taken off the job due to allegations of misconduct or criminal behavior should be allowed to continue drawing a paycheck at taxpayer expense. In the case of guilty officers, the public is literally being forced to fund paid vacations for criminals. In the case of the innocent, the public is still being forced to pay people who aren't doing anything to benefit them.
Neither outcome is fair.