Last week, Lawrence, Massachusetts honored several of its police officers for heroism. Last winter, a car went into a freezing river in the middle of the night. The officers cited had pulled the occupants to safety, rescuing them from death from drowning and/or hypothermia.
And then, two days later, they stripped one of them of his gun and badge, and put him on desk duty, as he faces criminal charges in Salem, NH.
Officer Kevin Sledge is no stranger to departmental discipline. This is his third brush with the rules. In 1999, he was suspended after being arrested and charged with raping an ex-girlfriend — a charge he was later acquitted of. And in 2004, he was involved in a complicated scheme that I don’t quite grasp, but involved getting a Massachusetts drivers’ license while living in New Hampshire (listing the Lawrence Police Department as his “home address”), selling cars in New Hampshire, and registering cars in New Hampshire after bullying Department of Motor Vehicles employees. In the end, he pleaded guilty to tampering with official records and paid a $500 fine.
Now Officer Sledge is accused of domestic violence, after a dispute with a girlfriend in his home. (It might be worth noting that Sledge is 43, and the lady in question is 23.)
Officer Sledge is certainly to be commended and praised for his heroism last February. There is no denying that he helped save several lives. But with his prior conviction, I have serious doubts whether he ought to remain on the force.
But then again, this is Lawrence — “the armpit of the Commonwealth” — we’re talking about here. Maybe that’s why he’s fit in so well all this time.