To protect and serve themselves
The handling of the case involving former Worcester Police Officer Neil Shea and his ensnarement in a sting operation targeting sex predators might have some wondering whether the priority of law enforcement is to protect and serve the community, or to protect and serve itself.
That is understandable.
How can you explain the abrupt termination of the online conversation in which Mr. Shea appeared to have been deeply engrossed in a highly improper chat-room encounter with an undercover officer, whom he believed to be a 14-year-old girl?
We are told Mr. Shea did not commit any crime, but that it was determined by Police Chief Gary Gemme that Mr. Shea committed several violations, including incompetence, neglect of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Mr. Shea resigned before the investigation, in which all allegations were sustained, was completed. He is free to receive all retirement benefits.
Good for him, but one has to ask whether the community was served by this process.
According to the disciplinary files on the case, we know that the sting operation was mounted by the Worcester district attorney’s office and other state and local police departments and agencies, including Worcester police.
We know that at some point during Mr. Shea’s online conversation with the undercover officer, law enforcement officials discovered the Worcester police officer’s identity. This discovery was based partly on tracing the cellphone number Mr. Shea provided online to the undercover officer.
We know that once his identity was discovered, someone from the command post alerted the Worcester Police Department Detective Bureau, which confirmed that Mr. Shea was indeed a member of the department.
We know that once this confirmation was made someone decided to terminate the conversation with Mr. Shea.
We know that the termination was suggested by the Worcester Detective Bureau on the grounds that if Officer Shea had not at that point made “any offers, or broken any law, and that he had not crossed the line, then we should just move on to other more promising subjects.”
To its credit the Detective Bureau did suggest the transcript of Mr. Shea’s conversation be preserved for possible disciplinary action.
Still, you judge whether Officer Shea was a promising subject. Here are snippets from the chat. He is Latenightcop171.
Latenightcop171 — So you want to learn things
Undercover — What can you teach me
Latenightcop171 — Lot of things
Latenightcop171 — We’d have sex
Undercover — Of course silly, but anything special or weird.
We also learned that later, after the undercover officer went offline, law enforcement officials later went back to check the transcript of the chat room conversation and found that “Latenightcop171” had made additional contact, including leaving a friend request.
Tim Connolly, spokesman for the DA’s office, said neither the “DA nor any of his representatives” made the call to terminate the online conversation between Mr. Shea and the undercover officer.
Mr. Connolly said he couldn’t say whether the DA’s office, which was involved in all aspect of the operation, was privy to the decision to terminate the conversation.
According to Chief Gemme, the “on scene MSP (Massachusetts State Police) supervisor made a decision that there was insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal complaint.”
Regardless, all of this leads me to believe that the issue wasn’t whether Mr. Shea had committed any crime, but that local law enforcement officials didn’t want to know if he would, thus leaving the community in jeopardy.
Submitted by anonymous to CopBlock.org