What we’re reading: A dysfunctional police department; workers toil in radiation; a soldier admits murdering Afghan villagers

March 24, 2011 by Andrew Clevenger

Time for a fresh batch of stories that we appreciated this week:

After a 10-month investigation of the New Orleans Police Department, federal authorities released a report last week that detailed what the New York Times called “a department that is severely dysfunctional on every level: one that regularly uses excessive force on civilians, frequently fails to investigate serious crimes and has a deeply inadequate, in many cases nonexistent, system of accountability.” And this does not include a series of shootings by officers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which the investigators avoided as they are the subject of federal criminal probes.

As authorities in Japan struggle to reduce the radiation coming from nuclear plants damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, a “legion of grunts” is shouldering much of the burden, the Wall Street Journal reported. Many plant workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex have been performing manual labor that exposes them to radiation while working for their regular wages. The companies say they haven’t considered higher pay or extending extra health benefits for these workers because they are too busy dealing with the crisis, according to the article.

U.S. Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock pleaded guilty Wednesday to murdering three unarmed Afghan villagers while serving as a member of the 5th Brigade (Stryker), 2nd Infantry Division, which is based in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Seattle Times reported. As part of his plea deal, Morlock is expected to testify against four other members of his platoon alleged to have been involved in the killings, which were then staged to look like legitimate combat fatalities. Murlock — who also admitted that he conspired to commit the murders, regularly used drugs and assaulted another soldier who threatened to expose his drug use — said he lost his moral compass, and admitted that there was a concerted plan to kill people during his unit’s tour in southern Afghanistan, which lasted from the summer of 2009 to the summer of 2010.

5 Responses to “What we’re reading: A dysfunctional police department; workers toil in radiation; a soldier admits murdering Afghan villagers”

  1. John says:

    And you and Gary Harki think the West Virginia State Police is bad! Every police agency has its bad apples, as does every proffession. But the Gazette, specifically Gary Harki, and you to soem extent harp on the bad apples and condemn the whole agency, which has mostly good officers. I honestly belive that reporters like Mr. Harki are creating heightened public mistrust in the police, more disrespect towards authority which has indirectly led to the recent onset of atacks against police officers. I once emailed Mr. Harki to do a story on some good the police were doing. I never received a response. Im sure if had I emailed some story about police misconduct he would have immediately stopped what he was doing and accomodated me. You see the media only wants to do stories about bad police, I cant think of one story the Gazette has done in the past few years highlighting any good any police officer has done. You reporters who only report the bad are just as bad as bad police officers.

  2. Brian says:

    Horse hockey John! Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There is no greater power than that badge and gun. Because of that, police should expect and receive greater scrutiny. It isn’t just “a few bad apples” but the whole darned orchard! If police want the trust and support of the public, then they should earn it. This isn’t just a New Orleans issue it is endemic across the nation. It stems from the abysmal pay they get and the allure of corruption.

  3. John says:

    So Brian, according to you every Police Oficer is corrupt, you my friend are paranoid and have fallen into what exactly my point is about the media only reporting about the bad cops, you have been brain washed. Authority doesnt corrupt everyone! Yes the pay is terrible and in most cases you get what you pay for, but to condemn all is ridiculous!!!!

  4. John says:

    and by the way, police do NOT have absolute power this isnt Russia. There are checks and balances like internal affairs, gand juries, judges, magistrates, prosecutors. If police had absolute power they could do anything they wanted to and get away with it, which is not the case, otherwise we wouldnt be reading about the bad apples getting caught. Its not a perfect system, none is, but get real man.

  5. Andrew Clevenger says:

    John,
    Do you not consider busting up a heroin ring and seizing 400 grams of heroin something good that a police officer has done? Because I wrote a story just last week about MDENT detectives doing just that.

    http://wvgazette.com/News/201103221186

    As for including a link to the article about the New Orleans Police Department’s culture of corruption, I thought it was something our readers would find interesting, as I certainly did. I wasn’t drawing a connection to any local department, simply passing along information, which we regularly do in the What We’re Reading feature. As a reporter who covers courts and sometimes, by extension, police, I am naturally drawn to compelling stories about law enforcement.

    I don’t think any of the above qualifies as “condemning the whole agency.”

    Thanks for reading, and thanks for your comments!

    Andrew Clevenger

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