Submitted by Fred Feller
Recently the Lakewood Police have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. The City and the Police have been sued for two wrongful deaths. A verdict was recently returned by U.S. District Court jury for over 15 million dollars with a portion of that designated as punitive damages for a wrongful death in 2013.
The City and the police were sued for 15 million dollars for another wrongful death in 2015. Especially concerning are the personal punitive damages against the police chief, Mike Zaro, in the 2013 incident. Recently the City Council voted to pay these damages. While that may be generous and supportive of the police on a personal level, these civil damage cases are a huge drain on City coffers. These two cases are not the first against the Lakewood Police.
They raise questions about the culture in the organization and the leadership of the organization. We know about the tragic deaths of four officers several years ago but I am wondering if the good will to our first responders is being taxed by subsequent misconduct and breach of trust.
I am not sure where this needs to go, but some additional coverage about the impact on the City budget might be in order.