There is a reason for the interview process when hiring someone. Forgiveness and allowing people to start with a clean slate has its place but it also has it limits. Because we have reported that Sheriff Patterson has a pattern of hiring troubled former Harris County, Liberty Dispatch thought it would be interesting to expose our readers to reading one of the worst results of that kind of hiring in law enforcement history. This part of history informs us about perhaps the most famous case indicating what is dangerous about helping troubled law enforcement officials wipe their slate clean and pin their badge back on and holster their gun to jump back into the profession they have already shown they have trouble doing without problems.
John Parker is the man who should have been sitting in front of the door leading to Abraham Lincoln as he watched the play at Ford’s theater on April 14, 1865. He wasn’t there. The pathway for John Wilkes Booth to murder the sixteenth President of the United States was unencumbered. Parker was drinking in the saloon next door waiting for the end of the play to escort Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln to their carriage to go back to the White House. Parker’s drinking next door and his prior behavior should have surprised no one who knew his track record.
Parker had a long record of mess ups in his years of service before the Lincoln assassinations. In fact he had a dismal record before he was put on trial for being drunk and disorderly at a house of prostitution. But just like his ability to overcome the testimony of witnesses saying the married father of three had spent five weeks living in that whorehouse, Parker was always able to use the reluctance of people to reprimand a hard working law enforcement officer over and over again to keep his record clean. He appeared before the police board again just two weeks later for sleeping on duty. And he appeared before them again just ninety days later for cursing at a private citizen – but nothing stuck.
Parker put his name in the pool to become one of the new people who looked out for President Lincoln and none of this was factored in when choosing the people who would protect a the most threatened President in American history. Even after he got the job when Parker continued to show up late for duty, the people in charge did nothing to him. He was several hours late to relieve the officer on duty before him on the day Lincoln was assassinated.
Why was he hired? Why wasn’t he fired rather than given one of the best jobs in law enforcement? I don’t know. Perhaps because John Parker was one of the first 150 policemen hired to serve in the new Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Force, his indiscretions were overlooked one at a time and no one knew the cumulative record of his incompetence. But even after his slothfulness and lack of sense of duty was on display for all to see, even when Lincoln no longer was alive to fulfill his duty, John Parker kept his job.
Liberty Dispatch has added our concerns to similar concerns set forth by people in this community. But our concerns have not slowed down Patterson nor have they kept certain individuals from running for office or serving in our local justice system. This community has made some great progress the last two elections, but the audacity of some among us leaves voters with important work ahead.
Stay tuned as we try to give the voters the same kind of information those who hired John Parker had and ignored.