It’s been almost 8 years in the making.
It was 2006. The Cardinals had made a surprise run to the World Series, finding their mojo after an uneven and, at times, challenging 83-78 season.
Technology advances rapidly, and between 2004 and 2006 tickets went pretty much 100% to the bar-code scan system for entry in most major stadiums across the US. Busch Stadium was no exception.
For the event hosts, it was a way to protect customers from fraud while managing inventory. For patrons, it was those things… plus the ability to have a memento not torn up.
Some members of the STL Police Department thought they saw an opportunity to exploit that last point. When they busted ticket scalpers and confiscated their passes, they were submitted to evidence.
But if a family member or friend of an officer could use them… well, they’d look the same if they were just ‘borrowed’ for a few hours, right?
It was bad idea. Made worse by the fact that the whole scheme was busted up by loose lips and eagle-eyed observers of the people that lost the tickets to the officers in the first place. All in all 8 officers were suspended then demoted, but never fired. Seven others faced unspecified discipline.
It could (and should) have probably ended there. A story about some cops with a bad idea who got caught up in Cardinals fever and made mistakes.
Obviously, they needed to be punished. And they were.
But when the ALCU and other media organizations, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, did their natural follow-up work and started to request documents via the Freedom of Information Act, the STLPD pushed back.
And they haven’t stopped for 7 years.
Now, after 2 judges have ordered the release of records, we’re starting to see what the STLPD was fighting so hard to keep out of the public domain.
The Post-Dispatch has been reporting on this case the entire time, so for all the details CLICK HERE and you can read the entire piece.
- Police Sgt. Anthony Boone, now in the Third District, kept $7,000 in a locked safe in his office for nearly six months, even though department policy required that it be sent to the Asset Forfeiture Division within 48 hours of being seized. An additional $4,700 was kept in the safe for three months.
- The interviews show that the tickets used by officers in the scalper cases in October 2006 were not available to Internal Affairs investigators for weeks after they began investigating that December. The commanders could not explain why.
- Lt. Scott Gardner, now the Internal Affairs commander, caused a stir with testimony that the department would never release records of disciplinary investigations — even if it could help exonerate a criminal defendant.
After reading the entire article, it’s hard not to surmise that the STLPD probably should have spent the past 7 years working on making their evidence procedures rock solid instead of spending money and effort trying to tamp down interest in this case.
Now that the information is released, let’s hope the STLPD takes serious steps towards improving how evidence is handled. All citizens should have the right to be proven guilty before being punished. And if the evidence isn’t being taken care of in a fair way, it’s hard to see how that happens.
Photo: St. Louis Post Dispatch