Thursday, January 31, 2008

Coupla Quickies

First, via, a story about a New York City police officer... who pimped out a 13-year-old runaway.
A 13-year-old runaway returned home with a horrific account of being forced into prostitution by the kind of person who should have instead come to her aid: a city detective.

A police officer pimping out a kid. This is truly disgusting.
The teenager thought she was being offered a job dancing at parties, according to prosecutors. She soon found herself a captive of Wayne Taylor and a woman who forced the teen to prostitute herself at parties, with the detective threatening to make her sell herself on the streets if she tried to escape, prosecutors said.

Not surprisingly, the cop and his female associate have pleaded not guilty. Assuming for the sake of argument that they are convicted, these two should be locked away from decent people forever.

Cops do not always get the best press, and, quite often, the coverage they get is ruchly deserved. Unlike a lot of bloggers, I do not immediately assume all cops are evil bastards, but I also realize that there will always be some cops who are corrupt, criminal losers. And if a single police department has over 30,000 sworn officers, as New York City does, there will certainly be a good number of thugs with badges.

* * * * *

Second, and on a much more pleasant note, this piece from Firehouse Magazine, about an off-duty volunteer firefighter who saved a man from a burning car. The story started off great, got ugly, and worked out properly... but only after a lawsuit.
Keith Leuci - formerly of Hamilton Township and now living in Tennessee - was driving home with his family Aug. 20, 2004, when he saw a burning car stopped on the Black Horse Pike. Leuci told his wife to pull over, raced to the car, pried the door open and pulled James Barnes, then 26 and of Pleasantville, to safety. Barnes' cousin was killed in the accident.

This is where it gets disgusting. Here's a man who risked his own life to save another. Bear in mind, he ran up to a burning car, and pulled the victim out before he burned to death. In saving the driver's life, he himself was seriously injured.
Leuci, then a member of the Cologne Fire Company, was injured in the rescue, and Hamilton Township denied his claim for workers'-compensation benefits. He then applied through the Cologne Volunteer Fire Company. The fire company also denied his claim, saying he was not on duty, and Egg Harbor Township did not request mutual aid from Hamilton Township, meaning he was not officially on duty at the site of the accident.

Give me a break. "He was not on duty"? Since when are cops, firefighters, or EMS personnel not on duty?
Leuci received a valor award from the Atlantic County Firefighters Association and a medal from the Carnegie Hero Fund for his role in the rescue. But his injuries forced him to give up his remodeling business, and his family moved to Tennessee because they could no longer afford to live in New Jersey.

Okay, it seems most people agree Leuci was, is, and will remain a hero. A bona fide hero.
The Cologne Fire Company and its insurer "took the position that instead of rescuing the person who was in the car, he should have gotten approval from the chief or somebody," said [Leuci's attorney Christopher] Day, who also represents The Press of Atlantic City. "There was about a 30- to 60-second window to save the individual, so his choice was to rescue the person or let him die." [Emphasis added]

"Should have gotten approval"?!? Oh. My. God.
"It's totally amazing we need a court to tell them the right thing to do," Day said. "I hope their family is never trapped in a vehicle when they need help."

Amen, brother.

Fortunately, New Jersey worker's compensation Judge Cosmo Giovinazzi III ruled in Leuci's favor.

Day said an appeal is unlikely to succeed, as Giovinazzi is one of the most respected judges in the state.

"To the best of my knowledge, he's never been overturned," Day said. "So I feel pretty confident his decision will stand."

One thing to remember is that Leuci was a volunteer firefighter; he did not get paid for his efforts. In fact, he probably had to pay out of his own pocket for the privilege of being a fire fighter. Most volunteer companies have annual dues, plus the troops generally have to pay for much of their own training (which is usually attended on their own unpaid time); some departments even make members pay for their turn-out gear.

Towns try this kind of sleazy cop-out, and then they wonder why they have such a hard time attracting and retaining volunteers. Of course, political sleaze is not the only reason volunteerism is down; many people cannot afford to donate unpaid time to their communities when they're trying desperately to keep a roof over their family's heads.

Meanwhile, Day said Leuci's move out of state was New Jersey's loss and Tennessee's gain.

"We have one less person who would do (a rescue like) this in New Jersey," Day said.

Day is right. If you're going to wind up trapped in a burning car, pray you're in Tennessee, and that Keith Leuci is driving by.

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