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September 9, 2002

The Cops and Their Endorsement

Lee Marshall

The Fraternal Order of Police is trying its luck again in being a mover and shaker in the county. We already know it can undermine a good police force and discredit a couple of good chiefs. They get no noogies for that. We understand it has about 120 members but now less than 10 voted to give the union’s endorsement to a State’s Attorney candidate who apparently is a political newcomer.

Dino Flores, that candidate, seems to be a nice guy, a competent prosecuting attorney and appears to have the motivation to be an effective State’s Attorney for Frederick. Besides, he’ll make a lot more moolah as the boss than he did as just one of the prosecutors. No one seems to know where he works now, but he once worked for Scott Rolle in the State’s Attorney’s office.

It certainly appears to have been a put-up deal, much like the endorsements the FOP chapters have given to Gubernatorial Candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. The executive boards of these chapters believe they have the power – and they exercised it, too – to claim the membership would rather have the stressed out Our Katy than Rep. Robert Ehrlich of tiny Arbutus.

The cops are squawking in Baltimore and other locales in Maryland because their union failed to consult them. It seems a majority of the cops want nothing to do with Our Katy, whose efforts have done more to foster crime than stop it.

It appears to be more of the same shuck and jive we’ve seen from the insiders of the Democratic Party in Maryland. The FOP says it didn’t have the money to waste on a ballot to mail to its members to see which of the gubernatorial candidates they prefer. So they just decided themselves in caucus.

The Democrats also got with the Brady Bunch of gun controllers and tried to spread lies that Mr. Ehrlich was an uncontrolled gun maniac. Where does it ever end?

We have talked with lots of cops in recent years and without fail they agree that gun control just keeps law-abiding citizens from purchasing lawful guns for lawful uses. They know that criminals can get guns any time they wish and they don’t buy them at gun shows or other legal gun dealers.

Guns are readily available to the criminals. And they don’t use "Saturday Night Specials" anymore. Criminals use Glock automatics like the cops, a variety of magnum revolvers, but add special jacketed ammunition that will penetrate body armor. They also use assault weapons, obtained on the street. They don’t ask permission or fill out forms to buy the weapons, they just put out the word and within a couple hours they have their weapon of choice.

Apparently, Mr. Rolle, who has headed the investigations and prosecutions of several major crimes in the city and county the past four years, doesn’t go along with the two-faced tactics of the FOP, which claims to have the welfare of the police officers at the top of their agenda. What the FOP really wants is POWER.

In addition, Mr. Rolle probably upset the Democrats of the FOP when he was an eyelash away from being named U.S. Attorney for the State of Maryland in the spring of 2001. What a sin it is to be well thought of by the President of the United States in a state run by corrupt Democrats.

We don’t have anything against Mr. Flores, in fact, we applaud his zeal to seek public office. Few voters know about him and perhaps we’ll hear more about his credentials, other not "seeking higher office." May the best barrister win.

However, political sleight of hand doesn’t sit well here and that is exactly what the endorsement sounds like. One wonders how many cops really object to Mr. Rolle’s efforts to negotiate routine drug cases to ease the burdens on his office and the court time that would be required by the investigating officers?

Mr. Rolle still achieves convictions on the hundreds of cases that would tie up the courts and law enforcement officers for months. Mr. Rolle’s targets are the big-time drug dealers and he prosecutes these felons without fail. He has also nailed a few murderers and rapists.

The FOP mouthpiece says its members are disappointed that they do all the investigations and then find out they are "settled out of court," or even nol prossed (not prosecuted). That is no failing by Mr. Rolle, considering that many of the cases are first-time offenses, and may include teenagers who need the reality of a night in jail to right their lives.

I really don’t believe the endorsement of Mr. Flores will have any significant affect on Mr. Rolle’s campaign, his positive public image is secure. He is constantly in the news reporting on the results of criminal investigations. That is the best advertising an incumbent can get.

So far the Fraternal Order of Police continues to be just "another union" which is lost in the never-never land where organized labor proves useless to the American worker. Like the baseball players, perhaps we should encourage them to go on strike, then we can get some scabs in here to take care of crime without the worry of union pressure on the rank and file.

It’s time for someone to suggest a "right to work" law for cops, who don’t want to have anything more to do with the FOP. Police officers have a tough enough job without the jerks running a union that is more bother than it is worth.

Regarding the contest for State’s Attorney, Scott Rolle has earned the right to continue in his job, but we remember that as the underdog Mr. Rolle unseated long-time State’s Attorney Tommy Dorsey. Mr. Rolle should remember, too, that politics is a game requiring patience, cunning and a thick skin.

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