“Synopsis: An officer pulled a motorist over because she had a non-functioning taillight. When the motorist could not produce a driver’s license, the officer discovered that the motorist’s driver’s license had been suspended.
The officer informed the motorist that he would need to have the car towed and performed a cursory pat down search of the woman before allowing her to remove personal items from the car.
The motorist later complained to the Department that the officer had been officious, discourteous and that the pat down was intrusive and unnecessary.
Recommendation: The complaint investigation was conducted promptly and thoroughly. The Auditor reviewed the original officer’s citation, the investigator’s interviews and report, the investigator’s supervisor’s evaluation, and the MAV videotapes in this case.
We concluded that the officer maintained a professional demeanor during the incident. The pat down search, while not always employed in these circumstances, constituted a justifiable precaution to employ with a somewhat uncooperative motorist and was minimally intrusive.
(On or off camera Mr. Gennaco?)
We note that the PAPD does not have a policy that specifies that a pat down must or should be done by an officer of the same sex.
Resolution/Corrective Action: The complainant was notified of the results of the investigation by letter.”
PAFP notes: Gennaco makes no note or recommendation of any, any policy change period and REFUSES to re-investigate any sexual misconduct by the stopping / offending officer. * Italics added
Norristown officer a ‘ticking time bomb’
By Craig R. McCoy
Inquirer Staff Writer
The police chief of Norristown wanted to fire Claude Lacombe, an officer with a reputation for arrogance and aggression. “A ticking time bomb,” former Chief Thomas Stone says now. “There was a whole list of things that said to anyone with any grain of sense,
‘You’ve got to get rid of this person.’ ”
The town finally did fire Lacombe – after he forced a woman he stopped while on patrol to have oral sex. He ended up going to prison, and the borough was forced to pay $372,000 to his alleged victims. It settled the last of two lawsuits in 2004.
Lacombe had his admirers during his four years on the force in the 1990s. Once commended for bravery during a riot, Lacombe harassed drug dealers and piled up arrests. He also was known for being “aggressive… violent, even,” in the words of Lacombe’s former lawyer.
In his first three years, he crashed four patrol cars. Stone says he wanted to fire him, but was overruled by Lacombe’s supporters in the town hall. “All of the warning signs that I took to them, they tossed aside,” he said recently.
In a recent interview, former Norristown Mayor Jack Salamone praised Lacombe, saying: “He was energetic. He was pretty good with the public.” Salamone said he did not recall the effort to fire Lacombe. “At my age, it’s not that easy to remember,” said Salamone, 67.
In 1996, one Norristown woman later said, Lacombe turned sexual predator after he answered a domestic-abuse call. He flirted, commented on her breasts, and finally pulled her hand onto his crotch.
It left her feeling afraid and demeaned. “It was way past official police business,” she said during a court hearing.
For all of Lacombe’s troubles, Stone said, he never heard him described as a sexual abuser until after Feb. 2, 1997 – the night Lacombe went on an on-duty sexual hunt.
As recounted in a lawsuit, it began with a 16-year-old girl being caught riding in a stolen car. She said Lacombe touched her breast during a search. At 4:30 a.m., prosecutors allege, Lacombe picked up another 16-year-old, whose family he knew, offering a ride home. He pulled over on the way and suggested a “little play.” She refused; Lacombe took her home.
Almost a half-hour later, prosecutors said, he picked up a 42-year-old woman he spotted walking drunkenly by the side of the road. He drove to a dark alley and forced her to give him oral sex.
“I tried to hold my dress and my stockings together. I was screaming, ‘Stop! What are you doing?’ ” the woman later said. Lacombe was fired in 1997, then arrested on charges of indecent assault, corruption of a minor, and official oppression.
A jury cleared him of wrongdoing in connection with the 16-year-old girl from the family he knew, but convicted him in the attack on the woman. He was not charged in connection with the other teen, but Norristown paid $122,000 to settle her civil lawsuit.
After serving 71/2 years in prison, Lacombe, now 37, was paroled last year and lives in Philadelphia, according to the state’s Megan’s Law Web site. He did not respond to letters seeking comment.
Stone, who travels the country as a police consultant, says he keeps seeing other departments making the same mistakes, failing to deal with their problem employees. “It’s deliberate indifference,” he said. “Agencies are not focused on that, and the next thing you know, tragedy happens.”
**Luis Verbrea – Who was he?