He lied. He made stuff up about Claude Suggs, that he was selling pot out of his home, in order to get a search warrant. He was so careless, so cavalier about it, that he didn’t even give the minimum effort to make it look good, cutting and pasting from old warrants, leaving in the “cocaine” language even though this was for marijuana. Baltimore Sgt. Dennis Workley was a liar.
“It was like a SWAT team. They had the big shield and guns,” Mary Johnson said. “They had weapons drawn to animals, people, babies.”
[Reporter Jayne] Miller reported there were irregularities in the affidavit Workley signed to get the warrant. In one section, he said marijuana was sold from the house, Miller reported. In another section, he said the house was used to traffic cocaine.
Miller said the discrepancy suggested that Workley cut and pasted text from another case.
And some judge signed it, discrepancies and all, a detail that appears to have faded in the mist from all subsequent accounts. Workley wound up finding two $10 bags of pot, which did not make him happy, so they took a sledgehammer and destroyed the family’s Christmas presents. That will teach them to not be not drug dealers. Two under for the baggies, both dismissed. Hardly worth dragging out the bazookas.
Without explanation as to how exactly the lies made it onto someone’s radar, Sgt. Workley’s perjury brought him prosecution for misconduct, and he was convicted.
And he was sentenced.
Workley apologized, saying in court he got lazy and cut corners in writing the warrant.
He faced 10 years in jail, but a judge determined he couldn’t think of a jail safe enough to house Workley so he will serve a suspended sentence and supervised probation.
Is there a “jail safe enough”? Cops in prison face tough times, whether from the possibility of meeting face to face with somebody who didn’t care for the way they were treated when the officer was god, or just not happy with police in general. There are a few people like that in “jail.” Prison too.
Or is it that jails just aren’t safe places for much of anybody, but when it comes to people who never wore a shield, the judge just couldn’t work up enough empathy to concern himself with the risks he imposed. After all, do criminals deserve to be coddled in jails where their safety is assured? Prison too.
Other prisoners aren’t always treated with kindness and gentility. Child molesters are universally despised in jail. Rapists aren’t well received in jails. Effeminate prisoners, those with slight builds, those who are less than capable of defending themselves, often find jails to be an unforgiving place. Prisons too.
The idea is that jail, not to mention prisons, aren’t supposed to be death sentences for anyone. Defendants are sentenced to a term of years, not to rapes, beatings and murder. Among the many duties the state has, keeping those in its care safe from harm is one. One that isn’t always done very well. Is that the judge’s point, that the jails of Maryland are incapable of providing safety to its inmates? Prisons too?
The judge’s concern, while speculative, is understandable. What it is not is acceptable. Among the primary legitimate purposes of incarceration, general deterrence is big. Huge. And it’s especially huge for police, a group largely inclined to believe that no matter what they do, what laws they break, what people they harm, they will receive special treatment.
No matter how bad a cop may be, he will still get the special courtesy reserved for a cop. And only a cop.
The explanation often used by judges for sentencing a convict to a term of years in prison, usually a lengthy term that will leave infants fatherless for the duration of their formative years, families destitute, even employees without jobs when their employer goes down, is that they must send a message. They must. It is so critical that the message be sent that it justifies the suffering of innocents this time so that others are not harmed another time.
So too was a message sent by the judge, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge John Howard, that Dennis Workley, former sergeant of the Baltimore police, leader of the SWAT Team that smashed Christmas presents with a sledgehammer, liar, cannot be sent to jail because his safety might be compromised. Prison too.
The argument, likely made by Workley’s lawyer, is a sound one. Workley would likely be at grave risk of harm if he was sentenced to jail. Prison too. While it would be a similarly sound argument for many other defendants, it’s highly unlikely it would meet the same reception. Child molesters simply do not get nearly as much understanding from judges as dirty cops.
So Workley doesn’t go to jail for his crimes. Not even prison.