Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: Former Crack-Smoking Cop Michelle Salentine Sentenced to A Year and a Day in Prison

Like I said last May,  this is a very unhappy woman.

Former Platteville police officer Michelle Salentine won’t be doing any serious time, at least not yet.   Salentine will be credited for time already served and will be doing 100 days in a drug rehab facility and three years of supervised releaseTime already served, you say?  Well, while she was free on bail, she continued to do crack.  Finally, in October, 2010, while awaiting trial, she and her equally-addicted twin brother were apprehended by cops when they argued over who should get what with the stuff in the car they were in.

With this kind of life, including being sexually harassed on the job, but with the wrong skin color, she would have been in the slam much faster and much longer.  Check it out:

[...] Salentine had struggled for years with emotional and physical issues before succumbing to drug addiction.

According to a court document written by her attorney, Michael Lieberman, she had been “victimized” by a male police dispatcher in Platteville and had to continue working with him for years. After injuring her back on the job, Salentine underwent seven back surgeries that left her in severe pain and with financial difficulties due to lost time from work.

Salentine was in a five-year relationship with an alcoholic girlfriend who physically and verbally abused her. Her parents, who refused to accept her sexuality, did not support her. Salentine continued to financially support her parents and girlfriend.

Uh-uh. I would not have stood for that. I could not see supporting these people financially. Then again, the abuse/rejection pattern would make anyone do anything for love and respect. It’s emotional blackmail. Who knows? Her parents might have held out the exposure of her sexuality to make her fork over cash, but then that news might have killed the cow that gave.

In late 2009, Salentine’s brother, Michael attempted suicide and was sent to live with Michelle.   Michael introduced her to crack, and Salentine quickly developed a problem with it.

Salentine smoked crack frequently for about a year, sometimes while in her squad car and sometimes before going on duty. When Platteville police arrested a crack dealer, the dealer told police about Salentine’s drug use.   Drug paraphernalia then was recovered from her Hathaway Street residence during a search.

Salentine admitted to smoking crack four to six times per week for about a year. Salentine was released on bond after her arrest in April but continued to use crack, which led to a second arrest in October. She pleaded guilty later that month.

That’s why she was in jail.

Salentine’s attorney Lieberman, in trying to get Salentine off, also complained that Salentine was being thrown the book because she had been a police officer. The state, he said, would have been much more lenient with her. But the Feds wouldn’t hear that argument, including District Judge Michael Conley. Salentine had a big problem; she had continued to use crack while free on bail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Anderson responded out of court to Lieberman’s comment, saying her offense became a federal case “because smoking crack by a sworn police officer, while armed and in a squad car, is pretty outrageous conduct.”

Conley said police officers should be treated no better or worse than others in court, but he couldn’t ignore Salentine’s “ridiculous and reckless behavior … and it was very fortunate that no other officer or citizen was injured or killed due to (Salentine’s) wholly irresponsible actions.”

That’s the point.  I still think though, that if Salentine had been black or Latina, she would be in the slam far longer.  I think that she got off rather lightly.  She’ll never be a cop or in law enforcement again, that’s for sure.  I wonder, though, how she’s going to make out career-wise when she’s released from prison and cleans up.   I’d like to see her get away from those parents and those siblings, if what the attorney says is true.  That’s seems a toxic combo that would only make her revert to drugs once more.

The sexual harassment charge is something new.  I don’t think it was throwing everything into the kitchen sink, either.   She was forced to deal with this guy, a police dispatcher, for years?  Is this guy still there?  Did she “suffer in silence”?  Is there any written evidence that she ever brought it up to superiors?  If she had and they had refused to deal with–officially or non-officially–what was an unfriendly environment for her, it might have been a reason why she had sought drugs for an escape.  But then again, how many shrinks are there in Platteville?  In Wisconsin?  She could have been placed on anti-depressants in order to maintain, and found another, better job if her record was relatively clean at the department.  She could have gathered evidence for a suit.  In other words, Salentine did have options other than becoming drug addicted.

However, as I said last May, this mess is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There are possibly other cops, either out in the boonies or even in bigger cities, who are just as reckless and just as addicted. And they are still on the job.  Moreover, I don’t believe that her fellow cops or higher-ups didn’t know that she was using.  Or that she was been harassed.  The Platteville Police Department eventually cleared itself of any wrongdoing in the first instance, but in both instances, there is such a thing as seeing, but not wanting to see.

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~ by blksista on January 1, 2011.

One Response to “Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: Former Crack-Smoking Cop Michelle Salentine Sentenced to A Year and a Day in Prison”

  1. I taught a crimminalistics lab course at the U of WI, Platteville for the Criminal Justice Dept. Michelle was my teaching assistant. At the same time she worked part time for both the Platteville and University police departments. She was also working on an advanced degree at the same time. She was a reliable, extremely hard working person, who was desperately trying to overcome a bad family situation. I didn’t know about the harassment, but am not surprised to hear about. A female detective from the Platteville PD who also helped me with the class was certainly poorly treated by that department. I can only hope her rehab is successful and Michelle can find some way to put her life back together. My wife and I would be willing to help her in any way we can.

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