Smith pleads guilty to drug buy

     A month after Skowronek’s death, Smith, who had been placed on administrative leave with pay after the incident, was charged with illegally purchasing steroids and confined in the Pinellas County Jail.

     On February 21, 1997, he was charged with buying 50 tablets of Pronabol, a controlled substance, for roughly $100. In November 1997, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years of probation.

     Smith had been fired from the force in 1995 after it came to light that he had lied during an investigation of alleged sexual overtures to a female crime victim. In December 1995, with an upcoming hearing on Smith’s part in the incident, the victim was found hanging in her bathroom, an apparent suicide. Nine months later, Smith was back on active duty in the department.

Easy arrests

     Wieslaw Skowronek’s death brought into question the conduct of senior police officials in the treatment of citizens, particularly minorities. As Freedom has reported, an unwritten policy pushed by top brass calls for easy arrests and “numbers,” with minority citizens considered the best “targets.” (See “Bias Against Minorities Plagues Clearwater PD,” Freedom, Issue 11.)

     Skowronek was likely a victim of an unwritten policy by the department’s leadership that puts easy arrests above citizen safety. High-volume arrests and summonses for petty offenses result in tourists ticketed for minor infractions while burglary, theft, arrest of drug dealers and community safety remain neglected.

     These raw numbers translate into budget dollars – and eventually mean promotions or other benefits for officers and, more importantly, their superiors. After all, it is statistics that make the department’s top management look good. Conversely, officers who view their purpose as creating a crime-free community and who insist on the importance of solving burglaries or other crimes might eventually find themselves in the uncomfortable position of being under an Internal Affairs microscope.END

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