Sarah Palin: TrooperGate & Abusive Cops

Sarah & Todd Palin

Sarah & Todd Palin

Let’s be clear.  I’m not a huge fan of Sarah Palin.  But, I am very concerned that the “blue wall” of protection surrounding her abusive former brother-in-law and Alaska state trooper Mike Wooten was a major factor in Gov. Palin’s decision to resign.  If a state governor can’t effectively protect her sister from an abusive cop, where do the rest of us go for protection when the cops are corrupt?

The press refers to it as TrooperGate.  The story has been spun to the point that most folks have been totally distracted from the chilling underlying facts.

The press minimizes TrooperGate as a “bitter family feud” or a “messy divorce” or a “vendetta.”  Anchorage Superior Court Judge John Suddock, who presided over the divorce of Molly McCann (Palin’s sister) and Wooten, was puzzled why Gov. Palin and her family wanted to get Wooten fired because it would “diminish his earning capacity.”

Let’s see.  Maybe it was because he used a Taser on his 10-year-old stepson.  Threatened to kill his father-in-law Chuck Heath.  Drove a patrol vehicle while drinking.  If you watch CNN’s exclusive interview with Wooten, you’ll see a man who clearly holds himself to be above the law.

We hear a lot about the TrooperGate ethics complaint against Gov. Palin that cost the state of Alaska $187,797 according to the Anchorage Daily News.  But, we don’t hear ~ except for The Washington Post ~ about the investigation into Wooten’s rogue behavior that Sarah Palin brought to the attention of Col. Julia Grimes, the head of Alaska’s state police, in an August 10, 2005 e-mail message which was quoted in chilling detail:

Wooten’s words were, “I will kill [Chuck Heath].  He’ll eat a [expletive] lead bullet.  I’ll shoot him,” if our father got the attorney to help Molly. . .Wooten spoke with his Trooper gun on his hip in an extremely intimidating fashion, leaving no doubt he is serious about taking someone’s life who disagrees with him. . .

My concern is that the public’s faith in the Troopers will continue to diminish as more residents express concerns regarding the apparent lack of action towards a Trooper whom is described by many as “a ticking time bomb” and a “loose cannon”. . .

Wooten. . .told Molly she’d better “put a leash on your sister” or he’d “bring Sarah Palin down”. . .

Is it acceptable for an Alaska State Trooper to use his badge and power in these aforementioned ways?

In 2006, Wooten was suspended for five days by Col. Grimes, the head of Alaska’s state police.  The Washington Post quoted the reason:

The record clearly indicates a serious and concentrated pattern of unacceptable and at times, illegal activity occuring over a lengthy period, which establishes a course of conduct totally at odds with the ethics of our profession.

The state troopers union went after Gov. Palin.  Defending herself cost her over $600,00 in personal legal bills.   Gov. Palin cited this as one of the reasons she had chosen to resign as governor of Alaska.

After Crystal Judson Brame was murdered by her estranged husband David, Tacoma, Washington’s chief of police, I heard the public outrage.  It was followed by intense public hearings.  Nevertheless, the “blue wall” kept the status quo firmly in place.

Vernetta Cockerham successfully sued the Jonesville, NC police department for failing to enforce her order of protection.  It took seven years for her to get a measure of justice.  She didn’t get an apology, but she did get $430,000.  It won’t bring her daughter back, but I’m willing to bet that the next time a woman calls for help that she’ll get it.

Police departments all over the country receive federal funds.  Some of them come from the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women office with strings attached.  If the police department in your community is harboring abusive cops, I suggest you report them to the VAW office and go after their funding.

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