Testimony gives insight into culture of police

Testimony gives insight into culture of police

August 31st, 2009 by Chloé Morrison in News

LaFAYETTE, Ga. -- Over the two weeks of testimony in Sam Parker's murder trial at least a dozen law officers have spoken, giving the public rare insight into Walker County's police culture.

Mr. Parker, a former LaFayette police sergeant, is charged will killing his wife, Walker County 911 operator Theresa Parker, who was last seen March 21, 2007. No body has been found, and Mr. Parker pleaded not guilty.

LaFayette city officers and Walker County deputies told the jury about their experiences with Mr. Parker and talked about the unique, often unspoken, bond that develops between lawmen.


Testimony in Sam Parker's murder trial ended Friday. Lawyers will make closing arguments today and the case will be given to the jury.

"We depend on each other more than friends do," LaFayette Sgt. Benji Clift said during his testimony.

Several in law enforcement said Mr. Parker seemed to resent being investigated by his fellow officers.

"They took my unused dental floss," Mr. Parker said in a television interview. "It's not like living in America. I don't understand it -- not as an officer, not as a person."

During their testimony, many officers also spoke about the unusual -- sometimes offensive and irreverent -- sense of humor that officers use to relieve stress.

District Attorney Leigh Patterson often brought up comments Mr. Parker made about knowing how to kill and to hide a body where it could never be found. Some said Mr. Parker's humor wasn't always funny, and others told Mr. Parker's public defender, David Dunn, that the comments could be explained as jokes, not as intent to murder.

Some officers testified there were generational barriers between younger and older officers under late LaFayette Police Chief Charles "Dino" Richardson.

Some younger officers said they felt left out of Chief Richardson's clique, which was made of up officers who had more than 20 years of experience. They also said their chief overlooked bad behavior from those in his favored group.

Former LaFayette City Councilman Max Morrison also said Chief Richardson ignored Mr. Parker's abuse of his ex-wife Keila Beard.

"I loved Chief Richardson, but we had some clashes dealing with the repercussions and disciplining of his officers," Mr. Morrison said. "There was poor supervision and a lack of discipline (under the chief's leadership)."

Mr. Dunn often asked witnesses if Chief Richardson was a "legend in law enforcement" and a "policeman's policeman." Many said he was.

"He was a very good lawman," said Johnny Bass, investigator for Walker County's district attorney.