Can't You Just Give Me a Warning?

When you are asked for a break, you have only moments to discern if you are dealing with a good person who has made a mistake OR a dirtbag who will do and say whatever they need in order to escape your grasp.

Within a few minutes, my cell phone rang. It was my sergeant. It seems that my benevolence had earned me a citizen complaint for being rude.

No good deed goes unpunished. Harrrumphhh!


My friend Matt is reasonably new to police work. He works in a very large, crime-ridden city, where the department has been plagued with bad management and corruption. Going to work is a challenge, to say the least. But, Matt is following his heart.

Recently, he made a traffic stop. A juvenile was at the wheel. He was a kid with no license to drive.

By the book, Matt would have hooked the car and taken the kid to the juvenile detention center.

Matt took pity, listening to the pleas of this youthful offender. He gave the kid a lecture. He tried to set him on the right path. He offered to take the kid home and deliver him to his parents, in the hope that the parents of this offender could set him straight.

The parents gratefully accepted their wayward child, in lieu of an arrest. However, Matt's sense of accomplishment was short-lived.

The mother of said youth made a citizen complaint against Matt because Matt had casually, off-handedly referred to her son as a, "knucklehead." Likely, the young thug deserved a label that was much more severe, more graphic, and less professional. Truth be told, he deserved to be arrested.

No good deed goes unpunished. Harrrumphhh!


Samborski had four years on in the Oak Park, MI Department of Public Safety. Oak Park is a suburban community that shares its southern border with Detroit along Eight Mile Road. It is an old suburb with most of the crime problems associated with an aging community that is closely attached to a major crime center like Detroit.

Shortly after midnight on Sunday, December 28, 2008, Samborski stopped a dark colored Jeep in his city. The driver was sixteen year old Jonathan Belton, who did not have a license to drive.

As one might expect, Belton likely asked for a break. He claimed that he had adult family living in the nearby Rue Versailles apartments. The family would take responsibility for him, Belton assured Samborski.

At this point, details become uncertain. Equally, there is an ongoing investigation underway. I will only share that which has already been put in the public domain through official OPDPS announcements and the media in order to protect all parties.

Samborski decided that making an arrest was not his preferred action. Rather, he would deliver this youth to his family. Samborski did not notify dispatch of his decision, nor of his planned course of action.

What Samborski did not know: his young charge was not the innocent person that he otherwise may have appeared. Belton had been convicted two years previously of assault on a Police Officer - a School Resource Officer, to be specific. Samborski could not know because our system protected the juvenile at the cost of the life of a 28 year old cop, father, husband and son. Juvenile records are sealed so that not even the cops know when they face a threat to their own lives and wellbeing.

According to ear witnesses, they heard Samborski and Belton in the narrow, dark hallway of the apartment building. They heard a scuffle - a fight - erupt in the space right outside their doors.

Then, there was a single gunshot and the struggle stopped. The only thing heard was, "Please don't leave me... please don't leave me here."

A citizen dialed 911 and within moments cops from around the region swarmed the scene. As it should have been. A close friend of mine was the first officer to respond from another city. Words will never describe the scene. Profoundly horrific, gut-wrenching, overwhelming and others words are not adequate. We can all imagine the scene and hope that we will never see such a sight in person.

Samborski tried to give a break to a seemingly worthy individual.

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