Earlier this week, we learned that Leonel Marines, a police sergeant in Bradenton, Florida, got the bright idea to use a law enforcement database to score dates—and even had sex with some of his targets. Among them were a number of Latinas who couldn’t speak English very well, if at all.
Marines resigned in October rather than face certain termination, and is now the target of a federal criminal investigation. The potential charges are staggering. Violation of rights under color of law. Extortion—if he threatened to turn in any of his targets to ICE if they spoke up.
When I heard this, I immediately thought of a number of high-profile cases of cops behaving badly. In a lot of those cases, we later learned that the cop had no business whatsoever being on the force. Take Tim Loehmann, the cop who killed Tamir Rice. Before being hired in Cleveland, he resigned rather than face almost certain termination from the police department in nearby Independence after being deemed unfit for duty. He didn’t disclose that when he applied in Cleveland—which is officially listed as the reason for his firing. But he did disclose something that should have been a huge red flag at any competent police department. In the six months between being pushed out in Independence and applying in Cleveland, he revealed that he worked “under-the-table jobs.”
Or Antoinette Frank, the New Orleans cop who killed one of her fellow cops and two people working at a Vietnamese restaurant. According to THE book about her, “Killer with a Badge” by Chuck Hustmyre, Frank was hired on her second attempt. She failed the first time after being caught red-handed lying about her employment history and failing two standard psychiatric evaluations. The first found that she was “naively avoidant, denying and evasive,” while the second deemed her “shallow and superficial.” During her second attempt, Hustmyre found evidence that strongly suggested she forged a number of letters and documents.
It led me to wonder—are police departments so starved for warm bodies that they’re willing to hire people who simply aren’t fit to serve? You can’t blame affirmative action for this. Loehmann is white, remember.
According to public records, Marines was racked up for underage drinking in 2001. Not enough in and of itself to be a deal breaker for any competent department. It may be awhile before we learn if there were any other skeletons in his closet, since the results of the internal affairs investigation have been sealed pending the FBI’s deep dive. But you can bet that between now and then, people are going to take a very hard look at his cases and arrests.
There are certain questions that we should not have to ask. And one of those questions is whether the men and women we hire for our police departments are truly fit to serve.