Gary officer transferred to police garage after rap video surfaces
by Lori Caldwell email@example.com | 648-3258 November 5, 2012 5:24PM
Updated: November 5, 2012 9:53PM
GARY — Laron Leslie, David Finley, Marla Guye and now Patrolman Jason Johnson.
All four Gary police officers hired in July 2009. All tied to drugs.
The latest incident involves Johnson and his take-home squad car, featured in a home video dated Friday and posted on YouTube this past weekend.
Filmed on a Tarrytown street, the video focuses on a rap artist making his own recording with Johnson’s squad car as a prop in the background.
The squad is parked at an angle, its lights flashing while the singer moves back and forth in front of it. In one shot, he leans against the front fender.
And while the singer prances and gestures, a crowd mills around in the nearby yard. Participants take turns flashing gang signs, displaying weapons and issuing greetings to the man behind the camera.
“We’re smoking weed with the police outside,” says one man.
Another shows his “Get your Smokey On” T-shirt.
Just 42 seconds into the 4-minute video, viewers get a glimpse of Johnson in his uniform, watching the rap artist.
Chief Wade Ingram met with Johnson Monday morning. He terminated the officer’s take-home car privileges and transferred him to the garage.
Indiana law prohibits the city from firing or suspending without pay a sworn officer until the jurisdiction’s police commission conducts a hearing.
“When matters like this arise, our approach continues to be proactive. We are policing ourselves as well as the citizens. We will do everything in our power to ensure that any illegal behavior by Gary police officers will not be tolerated,” Ingram wrote in an e-mail sent by city spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington.
He said mandatory ethics classes are set for next week, to be provided by Indiana University Northwest at no cost to the city.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said, “This goes beyond ethics. This has to do with character. It is our intent to take aggressive measures to confirm what we already know — that the overwhelming majority of the members of the Gary Police Department are hard working and law abiding.”
Leslie was fired after testing positive for marijuana when he crashed his take-home squad; Finley resigned after he was charged in federal court with dealing cocaine and marijuana; Guye was arrested Oct. 23 in Oklahoma when police found 48 pounds of marijuana in the car she rented with her boyfriend.
All four were hired by Chief Reginald Harris in the second wave of all-Gary recruits, the result of former Mayor Rudy Clay’s push to change the city ordinance governing hiring procedures.
Previously, the chief selected new officers based on where they scored on a battery of tests. The ordinance eliminated that requirement. Johnson could not be reached for comment.