While there are certainly some “good guys” employed as police officers in this state, when we only hear about the bad apples, it does nothing to improve police-community relations. Unfortunately, there’s another bad apple to add to the barrel—former East Washington Police Chief Donald Solomon, who was sentenced this week to more than 11 years in prison.
According to the Associated Press, the former Chief was convicted of extorting FBI agents posing as drug dealers. He offered them protection for their high-dollar cocaine deals and also agreed to purchased police-issued stun guns for them to supposedly use against those who owed drug debts.
Solomon pleaded guilty to the charges in January and was just sentenced after attending his son’s high school graduation, apologizing to the court and his family before being led off in handcuffs.
The Chief was offered $8,000 at the time to provide security for drug deals involving 30 pounds of cocaine. In other words, he would ensure the drug deal went down without the dealers getting robbed. The Tasers he offered to purchase for the agents posing as dealers are those that are only available for police.
The undercover FBI agents recorded the alleged cocaine deals and audio conversations between Solomon, an informant, and the agents. In addition, he allegedly made comments in the recordings that he had gotten away with other crimes for which he was never charged. It was the crimes he was convicted of and this brazen admission of others that caused the federal judge to sentence him to 135 months in prison.
“If you want to help the drug dealers, you’re going to do serious time,” said U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti. “And that’s what you believed you were doing here.”
Obviously, Solomon shoulders the blame here but the War on Drugs is also partly responsible. By funneling huge sums of money into suppressing the drug trade, we have created a cash cow for all of those involved in that underworld. Without the Drug War, Solomon would have never been able to “make” $8,000 providing security on a drug deal.
Sure, Solomon went further and some of his actions—including discussing the desire to make an old girlfriend “disappear”—cannot be blamed on anything but himself. Still, we cannot continue to deny the War on Drugs isn’t affecting the lure of criminality in regards to police.
Not all cops are dirty. As a matter of fact, they are the exception to the rule. But, it’s cases like this that wear at the trust we have towards the badge.
But extortion is a serious crime, one for which police are not immune or above the law.