WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF "COP-OUT": A failure to fulfill a commitment or responsibility
After purportedly ignoring complaints (properly prepared by 2 officers) about the stealing of drugs by 2 officers in the Santa Maria Police Deartment and not referring them to Internal Affairs (see Chief Macagni Cops Out), Police Chief Danny Magani is once again in hot water -- his actions this time possibly resulting in the death of a 4-year veteran of the Santa Maria Police Department.
Chief Magani approved what appears to be an ill-conceived ambush on a a law enforcement officer on his own force, whose behavior had been stellar up to that point. At the end of this poorly-planned action, the result was the death of that officer.
Officer Albert Covarrubias, Jr., was fatally shot by a colleague (his best friend and best man at his wedding) about 1:30 am Saturday, January 28th, 2012, while on duty at a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) checkpoint here in Santa Maria.
It had been reported that Officer Covarrabias had been having an illegal sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl, for which he was to be arrested.
The arrest of an officer, on duty or off, is serious business -- certainly an action that should be taken with care for the dignity of the officer, an awareness of the shock and shame the officer would experience, and extremely careful planning as to the where, when and how of the arresting moment, for the safety of everyone involved, particularly the public.
Yet Police Chief Danny Macagni sent 2 of Officer Covarrubias' own colleagues (one of them Covarrubias' cousin) to arrest him -- wile on duty in a public place.
Officer Corrubias' father lamented in an Associated Press article, "What happened to procedure? Why did they go to arrest him in the field? If it was so urgent, why didn't they just say there was a family emergency and he had to come to the station?"
Toru Miyoshi, former Santa Maria city council member and Santa Barbara County supervisor, stated in the same article, "They could have waited for a more controlled situation. A DUI checkpoint does not just put the accused at risk, but it puts the public at risk as well."
Preserving this man's dignity (and well-trained planning in how to accomplish such a sensitive arrest) would have been a responsible step in preventing the furious, frightened, knee-jerk, reaching-for-his-own-gun behavior that caused Officer Covarrubias' own death.
Why didn't Police Chief Danny Macagni protect Officer Covarrubias? Why did he send the man's own friends, colleagues and relatives (!) out to arrest him, in effect ambushing him in plain sight of the public? Why didn't he think of protecting one of his own men and the public?
Adding insult to injury (death is quite an injury), Officer Covarrubias and his family will not be given the special memorial service traditionally awarded to law enforcement personnel.
Officer Covarrubias desered better. And community policing, practiced by law enforcement to gain the trust of the communities they serve, has just taken a huge step backward in Santa Maria.
Former Police Chief John Sterling must be turning over in his grave.