Professional Courtesy: Are Some Cops Getting a 'Get-Out-of-Jail-Free' Card?
Within the police, a special privilege exists to keep the long arm of the law away from one of their own — professional courtesy.
It allows a police officer’s badge to help them get out of trouble when busted by another cop, and an Inside Edition investigation has found the practice is alive and well.
In January 2014, police officers from the Robbinsville Police Department pulled over Sgt. Vincent Corso of the Jersey City Police Department on suspicion of DUI.
When one of the responding officers from another jurisdiction called cops in Jersey City, they vouched for Corso. Officers did not place him under arrest, although the police report noted that he was "highly intoxicated.” Instead, the officers arranged for him to get home.
When Inside Edition producer Charlie McLravy asked Corso whether he found it fair that he "got a break when other citizens would go to jail for what happened," Corso did not respond.
A spokesperson for the Robbinsville Police Department said: "Ultimately, discipline for the officer should have been left in the hands of the Jersey City PD. There was no criminal wrongdoing or misconduct on the part of our officers."
A spokesperson for the Jersey City Police said Corso would be "appropriately disciplined” but did not provide further details.
When former NYPD Sergeant Joe Giacalone watched the footage of the stop, he told Inside Edition: "This should never happen."
"Someone could be killed drunk driving," he continued. "This is something that really upsets me. Police chiefs need to wake up and smell the coffee here so to speak."
In November 2015, a driver found passed out behind the wheel of his car in Minnesota turned out to be a cop.
When the officer, William Monberg of the Columbia Heights Police Department, was woken up, he was so drunk that he could barely follow basic commands. He was unable to walk in a straight line and his blood-alcohol content was reportedly twice the legal limit.
Dash cam footage shows arresting officers examining his wallet before finding his badge. “Oh crap,” one officer is heard saying.
Instead of arresting him, they offered a professional courtesy and helped him get a ride home.
Inside Edition’s Lisa Guerrero asked Chris Olson, the Blaine, Minnesota, police chief whose department offered officer Monberg the professional courtesy, if a badge was a "get-out-of-jail-free card."
"No," he responded. "We expect professionalism and hold people accountable.”
In a statement, he added that "the mistake was not acceptable" and they are "fully committed to fair and impartial policing."
A month after the incident, Officer Monberg was charged and pleaded guilty to DWI. He was suspended for 30 days.