Charges were filed last week against Racine Police Officer Brinelle Nabors, nearly 2 ½ years after an alleged incident involving brutality at Park High School.
During that time, Nabors was on paid administrative leave and, according to city data obtained through open-records requests, he was paid at least $160,985.88.
The records detail Nabors’ pay from Dec. 16, 2015, to May 3, 2018, a period which also includes a raise in June 2016 from $31.76 per hour to $32.12.
That is a lot of money for someone who is not working.
When there are serious allegations of misconduct by a police officer, those allegations should be taken seriously. In some cases that will mean an officer needs to be on paid administrative leave.
But that shouldn’t be 2 ½ years. A decision should be able to happen quicker.
For example, last week Sammie Miller was on trial. He was accused of killing Audrey Scott last summer and leaving her body in a wooded area in Yorkville. A jury on Wednesday found him guilty of first-degree intentional homicide.
The homicide occurred in July 2017, and the case has already made its way through the court system.
This issue of extended administrative leave came up as one of multiple issues in the Racine Police Department morale study in March.
It’s understandable that officers would be upset when one of their peers is on paid leave for more than two years. When an officer is on paid leave, it means one fewer person is on the street protecting residents. One fewer person is able to prevent crime and catch criminals.
The lengthy time on leave is frustrating. It is important to look at how and why it happened.
Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley received the case Feb. 20, 2017. Before the case was referred to Graveley’s office, it had been reviewed by then-Racine County District Attorney Rich Chiapete in early 2016. It was then passed on to District Attorney Patricia Hanson in early 2017 after she was elected. She then requested assistance from the Kenosha District Attorney’s Office to avoid a conflict of interest.
Graveley said it took more than a year to file charges because his office had to obtain information from the civil litigation.
At the same time, Racine Police Chief Art Howell said he was waiting on the district attorney’s ruling before making a decision on Nabors’ employment.
He also said police officers who commented on the extended leave in the recent police survey were misinformed and that things were beyond his control.
If that was the case, Howell should have been calling the DA delay weekly to check on the status, ensuring the case was resolved swiftly.
If this was a Kenosha case handed over to Racine, we would imagine Kenosha would want an expedited decision.
Now, following the information that came out in the police survey — some of which is unflattering to the officers themselves — Racine Mayor Cory Mason has ordered a review of the city’s Police Department to study its “cultural climate.”
Mason has directed the city’s attorney, human resources manager and affirmative action officer to investigate those concerns and complete the review within 30 days.
As part of that, the city also should review policies on paid administrative leave to determine if anything can be done to expedite cases in the future.