ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Just two days before they graduate and become officers in the city of Albuquerque, a group of 31 police cadets got a lesson in Jeffrey Dahmer, a lesson of honesty.
The Executive Director of the Civilian Police Oversight Agency (CPOA), Ed Harness, has given speeches to the last four graduating cadet classes.
“Our agency comes in and talks to them about civilian complaints and oversight so that they understand the fundamentals of it before they hit the streets,” Harness said.
But before his hour-long speech is up, Harness always ends with a lesson.
“I tell them the Jeffrey Dahmer story,” Harness said.
That may sound strange. But the same year police arrested Dahmer, Harness was in the academy for the Milwaukee Police Department.
“It’s the story regarding the two officers who possibly had a chance to arrest Jeffrey Dahmer two or three weeks earlier,” Harness said.
Harness begins his story by asking the cadets if they know about Jeffrey Dahmer. More than half do.
Then, he asks about, then Milwuakee Police Officers John Balcerzak and his partner Joseph Gabrish. Not one cadet raises their hands.
Harness explained that weeks before Dahmer’s arrest, he had a run in with officers Balcerzak and Gabrish after a 14-year-old boy managed to escape from Dahmer’s apartment. Investigators said Dahmer convinced the officers it was just a “lover’s spat,” so they let it go.
The boy was murdered and the officers were fired.
“Those officers didn’t run a check, if they had run a check, they would have known that this youth had been a run away,” he said. “If they had run a check, they would have discovered that he was not an adult.”
The officers eventually appealed the decision in district court.
“They were reinstated into their positions and one of the reasons that was cited by the judge was because they were absolutely honest throughout the entire investigation,” Harness said. “They didn’t shade the truth, they told the truth.”
A lesson Harness said he hopes these cadets carry with them as they are pinned at their graduation ceremony on Thursday.
“The moral of the story is: you’re human, mistakes are going to happen and when you’re confronted with those, make sure that you’re honest and forthright, because that’s how you’re going to keep your career. If you’re not, it will end your career.”