Critics of the U.S. criminal justice system often refer to its two tiers of justice — one for the wealthy and well-connected and another for everyone else. That dynamic often plays out within law enforcement groups. Rookie beat cops are routinely suspended for misconduct while high-ranking officers who commit the same or similar violations are given the option of early retirement.
Last month, we broke a story about now-former Fort Worth Deputy Police Chief Michael Shedd, who was recently under investigation for sexual harassment (“Closed Records,” June 16). The investigation, conducted by Fort Worth police department’s Office of Internal Affairs, did not result in disciplinary action, according to a document that the city Secretary’s Office filed with the State Attorney General’s Office to hide information about that investigation from one of our reporters. A confidential source who spoke to us at the time said Shedd was given the option of retirement in lieu of being terminated.
In an email, a police department spokesperson confirmed that Shedd officially retired on July 1. When asked if Shedd retired with full taxpayer-funded benefits, the spokesperson said that question would need to be forwarded to the department’s human resources department and that there was no guarantee that the information we sought would be disclosed.
The entire incident would have been swept under the rug had it not been for the efforts of a whistleblower. Even with those details, the city’s legal team is seeking to block the release of documents related to the sexual harassment investigation. New day, same Fort Worth.