The recent article about the city having to pay for the successful defense of Officer Brinelle Nabors raises two troubling issues. First, why is a member of the Racine Police and Fire Commission, which is responsible for supervision of the Police and Fire departments, acting as attorney for a member of the department?
Attorney Cafferty is to be congratulated for his defense of Nabors, but there was a clear conflict of interest for Cafferty. How can Cafferty be objective in his duties as a commissioner if he is taking on cases for the officers he is supposed to be supervising? In short, he cannot. Cafferty must refrain from engaging in cases that are in conflict with his public obligations. His billing of the city for his defense of Nabors also raises troubling ethical issues. Did he have city approval to take on Nabors as a client?
Second, why was a member of the Police Department engaging in part-time work that created a liability for the city? The city has an obligation to regulate its employees to minimize the risk of litigation that puts the taxpayer on the hook for the actions of city employees while privately employed. He was not in the line of duty as a city police officer, and therefore not entitled under Wisconsin statute to reimbursement of legal fees.
What would the cost to taxpayers have been had Nabors not been exonerated of the felony charges?