From the mailbox:
Twenty-two years ago I was a cop in Loudoun County, Virginia. I testified that the Commonwealth’s Attorney and a Sheriff’s Office captain had withheld exculpatory evidence that led to the conviction of a man for attempted murder. An almost twelve year career with a spotless record, commendations, Criminal Investigator of the Year in 1986, all meant nothing. My reputation, character and integrity was attacked by corrupt officials including the sheriff. It was a living hell for a year. Thank God that I had an honest judge who after hearing my testimony believed me over the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Sheriff’s Captain and released the man from jail and ordered a new trial (which he was later found not guilty.) My point is the system, then and today, does nothing to protect honest cops who speak out against misconduct and corruption. I lost my career because all I did was tell the truth. If it was not for the local and national news media my story would have been lost in the pages of another sad statistic of someone who did the right thing and paid for it.
About ten years ago I was lecturing at a police ethics class on what happened to me. All the officers agreed that I did the right thing. What was sad was that most of them told me if they were confronted with the same incident they probably would not have pushed the issue. That, my friends, is very sad. When I wore a badge it was a symbol of public trust. I lived by that standard all my professional career and years since. I still pay the price for doing what is right.
More background here.
Two points worth repeating:
(1) The judge in the case listened to Mr. Poppa, the prosecutor’s denial, and then concluded that Mr. Poppa’s account was credible.
(2) The sheriff said Mr. Poppa’s reassignment and discipline were not related to his testimony. Hmm.