Blue Byline

A cop's perspective of the news and South Sound matters

Cops who violate our trust should be held to higher standard

Post by Brian O'Neill on July 2, 2012 at 10:03 am with 8 Comments »
July 2, 2012 10:16 am

Remorse: Moral anguish arising from repentance for past misdeeds.

With every crime there is always the chance of getting caught. Even the least imaginative individual is capable of understanding the potential fallout of arrest, including a trial and incarceration. Police officers know better than anyone what is in store for someone tapped by the long arm of the law.

Skeeter Manos, ex-Lakewood cop and newly convicted felon, would have known exactly what awaited him if his embezzlement were uncovered. Given his lavish lifestyle, including big ticket purchases, gambling and vacations, Manos should have assumed his arrest would be a “when, not if” situation.

Last Friday, Manos was given an opportunity to speak prior to being sentenced on one federal count of wire fraud. As reported in the Trib, (6/29), the former Lakewood police guild treasurer eloquently expressed his sense of remorse, correctly framing his actions as a betrayal of his former colleagues, his family and his profession.

The judge was unimpressed. Manos received the high end sentence – 33 months – for stealing money earmarked for family members of the four slain Lakewood officers, as well funds from the police guild.

Why the rough treatment? I can think of a couple reasons.

With the exception of sociopaths (who are unburdened by superfluous notions such as empathy), our response to shame is a simple matter of emotional circuitry. When faced with an opportunity of sufficient temptation, coupled with enough greed to overcome our moral objections, we are all capable of finding ourselves in a tight spot. Getting caught is, unfortunately, what kicks in our remorse.

From that perspective, Manos’ remorse was a knee jerk response. Despite his deep shame, his expression of bitter regret suggested that he really had not given sufficient thought to the possible repurcussions.

I also believe that Manos’ profession was a factor in his sentencing. As a police officer, Manos’ integrity was a currency that was deemed acceptable on the street and in the courtroom. The powers and authority granted to a cop are formidable, and the trust placed in each and every one is what makes our entire system credible.

On Friday, Skeeter Manos faced the federal judge as a private citizen and as a a former police officer. He spoke as a human, filled with remorse for having stolen from those who trusted him. Then he was sentenced by a criminal justice system that gave him a power and authority over others. The backlash was harsh, for Manos and his family, but the court’s message was clear:

As a police officer, you were extended credit on your integrity – now it’s time to pay up, with interest.


Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. BlaineCGarver says:
  2. olympicmtn says:

    And anyone who steals should be prosecuted… or is that unless you steal from cops.

  3. DavidAnderson says:

    I realize this crime concerns Manos but what are the chances we could get an update on Brian Wurts?

    Three reasons:

    First of all there is a “significant amount” of money missing from the dues the guild receives – about $70 a month, $76,600 a year – from the more than 90 police officers, detectives, investigators and sergeants that make up the guild. Eric Bell, new guild president who replaced Wurts who resigned early this year, says both treasurer Skeeter Manos and Wurts “thwarted” repeated requests for review of the guild’s accounts (TNT, 2/14/12).

    Second, Wurts resigned from his position as President of the Lakewood Police Independent Guild and was placed on leave of absence pending FBI investigation as to whether he also was involved.

    And third, the statement released from the LPD stated their attempt to rebuild public trust would include “the utmost integrity.”

    Integrity, as defined by Stephen L. Carter, Yale Law Professor, means a thorough investigation of the facts such that Carter declares “I am persuaded that nothing but an all-out effort to demand integrity of our leaders will preserve democracy.”

    If the LPD does in fact mean what Carter means that integrity means then a no-stone-unturned revelation to the public – from whom they want trust – should be forthcoming.


  4. Sroldguy says:

    Was it passed to the feds so he would get more time or less?

  5. Brian O'Neill says:

    Olympic- Not sure what you are insinuating with your comment. Skeeter Manos was a police officer who stole from other officers, and he will be losing almost three years of liberty for that crime. I don’t see the “unless” issue to which you are referring.

  6. Brian O'Neill says:

    Sroldguy- The federal government usually intervenes when there is a crime that touches on their statutes, regardless of whether it is a state crime or not. In reality, federal crimes carry the same or longer sentences, with very little time shaved off for any good behavior. In Manos’ case, the wire fraud crime was probably the most significant and severe crime for which he could have been charged.

    These are educated guesses, but one can certainly conclude that Manos’ prosecution was so harsh because of 1) his position as a police officer; 2) his choice of victims.

  7. reality476 says:

    I hope an investigation is completed into the Union Guild President, Brian Wurts, responsibility regarding the incident. I have difficulty believing such a large amount of funds could have been embezzled without the knowledge of those in leadership of the Guild.

    As Union President, Wurts, is accountable for maintaining financial accountability and accuracy. Why has no additional information been published regarding, Brian Wurts, insistence that ‘fund accounts’ not be routinely audited? This alone implies knowledge. Is this issue going away now that Manos pled guilty?

    Wurts actions either indicate knowledge of the thefts, cohesion or apathy. Either way, it undermines confidence in the leadership of the Lakewood Police Department and requires further investigation.

  8. And equal justice before the law.
    Are we falling into the Superman trap again?

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