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A whole new meaning to law enforcement

TUESDAY, JAN. 11, 2011

Let me be first to say: “Welcome back to the SPD, Bradley Thoma!”

Granted, I don’t know if the former Spokane police sergeant – who was fired in the wake of a boozed-up, hit-and-run bumper bender – will accept this reported offer to rejoin the force as a detective.

But a change in Washington’s DUI law has apparently opened a wormhole for Thoma to crawl through.

Heck, who says our police officers have to be round-the-clock role models?

Just because they carry guns and take an oath to uphold our laws doesn’t mean some of them can’t go off the rails now and again.

Thoma, for example. His downfall occurred during some off-duty revelry back in September 2009.

In short, Thoma pounded a few too many. Then, in an incredible lapse of badge awareness, he slid behind the wheel of his Dodge Ram and, well, rammed into the back of a woman’s pickup.

Rather than stick around and perhaps make a new friend, Thoma compounded his disgrace by skedaddling.

Not that he skedaddled very far.

Thoma was pinched in the parking lot of a nearby grocery store. Tests showed that he was not merely drunk, but tanked-to-the-Thoma-tonsils drunk.

I won’t go into all the crafty legal maneuvering that followed. Suffice it to say that Thoma saw his hit-and-run charge dismissed and wound up with a deferred prosecution, which many thought was way less than a cop who should know better deserved.

Thoma said adios to his $91k paycheck when police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick balked at having a lawman around who couldn’t drive without having to blow-start his squad car.

The woman’s such an idealist.

Thoma, however, may have the last guffaw. Rather than enroll in bartender school, he hired a savvy lawyer and got a big-money, wrongful termination lawsuit going.

It’s the American Way!

But now a change in state law that has removed that pesky ignition lock restriction. And so the city has given an opportunity for the prodigal Thoma to come back. (Albeit to a lower-paying position.)

Well, why not.

It’s a New Year. I’m all for fresh beginnings.

I do, however, think that should Thoma return, he should at least have to carry a slightly altered legal preamble than the one that regular officers read when making an arrest.

You know, the Miranda Warning?

I give you the Thomanda Warning:

YOU have the right to remain silent.

(Of course, considering my history, it would be a lot less hypocritical if we just talked sports or politics for a while.)

ANYTHING you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

(Aw, don’t worry. I know from experience that you’ll be able to manipulate the system like a card shark with a marked deck.)

YOU have the right to speak to an attorney.

(You also have the right to speak to my AA sponsor, Bill. I’ve got his cell phone number somewhere in my wallet. Damn. Now where’d I put that thing?)

IF you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for you.

(Or for a small finder’s fee, I’ll give you the name of the slug that helped me skate outta trouble.)

DO you understand these rights as they have been read to you?

(Aw, who am I to judge? How about I just let you go and we’ll forget the whole thing.)

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at dougc@spokesman.com.


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