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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Texas Cops Admit Questionable Practices

Garland police officer admits to questionable practice with informants
The Dallas Morning News by Tanya Eiserer - March 26, 2010

Garland drug officer's cases re-examined after credibility questioned
"You could [infer] all kinds of different things," Morrow testified.

Garland police Officer Dennis Morrow admitted during a hearing Thursday that he sometimes had informants sign pay sheets without immediately filling in the amount he paid them – a practice deemed questionable by law enforcement experts – but he denied ever stealing any money. Under questioning by Dallas County prosecutor Tim Gallagher, Morrow testified that he did realize that having informants sign blank pay sheets could create an appearance problem for him. Morrow's testimony came during the continuation of a pretrial hearing in which two colleagues have already testified that he misrepresented what happened during a July drug bust. Morrow has denied any wrongdoing in that raid, and a Garland police internal investigation cleared him. Two Garland officers, Daniel Colasanto and Cliff Wise, have previously testified that Morrow inaccurately wrote in a July police report that Tramane Hooks lunged for drugs in a refrigerator, resulting in his arrest on drug delivery charges. The officers testified that the inaccuracies were part of a pattern by Morrow and that they doubted his credibility. The hearing, which began earlier this month and was postponed until Thursday, is an attempt by defense attorney Bill Wirskye to get drug charges against his client, Patrick Woodard, dismissed. Morrow was the arresting officer when Woodard was arrested in April. Woodard's case is unrelated to Hooks'. As a result of the testimony of Colasanto and Wise, prosecutors have launched a wide-ranging review of all of Morrow's felony drug cases, which number in the hundreds. Morrow, Wise and Colasanto were among a group of Garland officers transferred out of the narcotics unit last year after the Hooks arrest. Although Morrow contends he did nothing wrong with the pay sheets, the lead investigator in the Dallas fake-drug scandal said in an interview after the hearing that the officer's actions could prove to be problematic. David Eldridge, a retired narcotics supervisor with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said that such a practice is "fraught with danger. Both he and his department that's permitting him to do this are headed for problems." During Morrow's testimony Thursday, he said that there were rare occasions when a witness wasn't present when he gave money to a confidential informant, but that he always notified a supervisor when he did so. He also said he sometimes would go to a motel office with an informant and give the manager the money the informants had earned from helping with drug busts. "If they owed the motel guy $180 for the week, then we'd give it to them and they would give them what was left over," Morrow testified. Both practices, Eldridge said, are troubling. "That's what gets these guys in trouble is not properly documenting how the money is spent," he said. Also Thursday, Judge Pat McDowell granted the city of Garland's motion to place documents subpoenaed by Wirskye under a protective order, preventing their release to any third parties, including the media. In seeking the protective order, Garland Assistant City Attorney Michael Betz cited a provision of state law that makes certain police internal affairs records confidential. The hearing in the Woodard case is slated to resume next Thursday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately for the good officers in Garland- their Chief has taken the position to support the quota at all costs policy and defend a dishonest cop who got caught cheating in order to make quota- not unusual for Garland brass to be dishonest as they have done before in covering up murders w/o any regrets for public opinion