Reno jackpot:

Police officer settles civil rights suit against city
Putnam Pit editor
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. [May 3, 1998] -- Police Officer Reno Martin Saturday confirmed that he had received a $37,500 settlement in his two-year-old federal civil rights case against the City of Cookeville.

"I'm going to live it up," Martin told The Putnam Pit. "I'm going to pay off my bills."

The suit arose from allegations that former Police Captain Wayne Bandy on several occasions held a loaded gun to Martin's head while the two men were on duty in the police station, and that Bandy made sexually harassing comments and made physical contact with him.

In one of his first acts as city manager, Jim Shipley transferred Bandy from the department to another patronage position, asserting that he had known Bandy for years and couldn't believe the former captain meant any harm by terrorizing a subordinate with a loaded weapon in front of his co-workers. Anyway, Shipley's statement said, the city now has a policy against such horseplay.

Meanwhile, does this treatment of Bandy leave the city open to future employment rights suits by any other employee who is fired for holding a gun to another worker's head? The Bandy precedent adds a delightful twist for municipal employees who may want to hold a gun to Shipley's head and say, "Take this job and shove it." They will have meant no harm, of course.

And, of course, there is the small problem of non-city employees holding guns to other citizens' heads.

Can the city forgive Bandy yet apply the law to managers in banks, for example, or in restaurants, who hold loaded guns to employee's heads? Will police arrest them? Or does this forgiveness for terrorizing another person with a gun to the head apply only to people Shipley has known for a long time?

We're not whining about a double standard but it wasn't too long ago that the city sent four police cars to O'Charley's because of a complaint that an issue of The Putnam Pit reporting that employees of the restaurant had poor hygiene was being distributed there. Meanwhile, if the restaurant manager holds a gun to the head of a waiter he can quote the city manager as not meaning any harm and apparently no police will respond. If they do, the city could face yet another civil rights suit for arbitrary application of the law.

Another question: If a police officer can hold a gun to another man's head without it being a crime, what about the police officers who falsely sign their time cards claiming they've been working when their shift was spent on the golf course?

That certainly is not worse than holding a gun to someone's head. Perhaps it was just club house horseplay. They didn't mean any harm.

And then there's that horseplay of fraudulent overtime claims by certain hourly police department employees. They'll have to be forgiven, too, won't they?

Wow. That motor pool is going to be crowded.

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