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An ongoing discussion about conservatism in New Jersey.
Larkin and buddies flee from sunshine pouring in
Peter C. Hansen  (February 24, 2010, 10:35 am)

We can now add the national Huffington Post and Reason Online as calling for Larkin's ouster. PolitickerNJ is covering the move toward a real investigation as officials are being gradually shamed and pushed into finally doing the right thing. One heck of an effort is needed, given the resistance by Larkin's buddies in government.

Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini (609.989.6305) has found "no information to prompt an investigation for official misconduct." I guess Mr. Bocchini doesn't mind possibly armed men walking into places like schools and churches to publicly shake down speakers. Well, perhaps that overstates things. Maybe Mr. Bocchini only minds it when they don't wear a badge and feed him business.

We're not talking about actual prosecuting here, mind you. Mr. Bocchini won't even open an investigation. To him, Mercer County sees nothing wrong with what Larkin did. Mr. Bocchini is turning a blind eye, and proud to tell everyone he's doing it. Congrats, Mercer County. Now you know you have on your hands a guy who lets government bullies off without a look. For Mr. Bocchini, it seems that if you have a badge, you have a pass.

Mercer County Republican Chairman Roy Wesley to his credit has approached Mercer County Inspector General Robert A. Farkas (609.278.8084, Fax 609.989.7529) to request an investigation. This is after all precisely what Farkas is supposed to be doing anyway. What has Farkas's response been? He plans to review the county's quick-and-dirty "internal investigation" (which has not yet been released to the public!) before "deciding whether the now famous incident between Sheriff Kevin Larkin and a professor warrants an inquiry by his own office." Quoth Mr. Farkas:

The problem is that I don’t know enough to decide whether anything needs to be done. What I expect to get in review is the community college’s investigation into the matter .... Then I can be in a better position to decide if any further inquiry or investigation is necessary, and if so, what.

Poor Mr. Farkas. As an inspector general charged with upholding county government ethics, he just doesn't know what to do when a possibly armed county sheriff accosts a county professor in a county classroom and forces him to act like a repentant parrot. He also doesn't appear to read any newspapers or Interwebs stuff to know what's been going on. Maybe, however, he has finally read the Trenton Times today, where Larkin himself admits to having violated county school policy. Will that finally get Farkas going?

In truth, however, Mr. Farkas is clever. Much cleverer than the Mercer County Prosecutor. Whereas Mr. Bocchioni gives a loud "I didn't see nuthin'" shout out to his colleague and business-feeder Larkin, Mr. Farkas wants to give everyone the impression that he is closeted away reading a secret report. Once the storm passes, he can conveniently forget about the matter. Of course, if the pressure keeps up, he can ride the virtue train by actually, finally doing his job.

Here are a few questions for Mr. Farkas: How come you didn't get the county investigation report automatically? How come you didn't do the investigation yourself? Why did it take you days to start doing your job? Frankly, do you even read your job description on your own website? You are supposed to uphold county ethics! Why haven't you been leading this story, rather than getting dragged along? Are you even going to publish your and the county's investigation reports? If you don't provide even this basic transparency about a public incident, you don't deserve the money that everyone you live around pays you.

Finally, we have Big Man Larkin himself trying out a pseudo-apology, Jersey-style. Larkin expresses regret for intimidating Prof. Glass in public: "I certainly would defend myself, but I would not do it in violation of school policy .... I would do it again, but I would do it another way."

So the sheriff would still go after Prof. Glass? Impressive. He also manages to weave a threat into his apology? Mafioso! (That's like "bravo!" for Jersey thugs.)

The armed sheriff would still "defend" himself against an unarmed associate professor. Next time, though, he wouldn't all-but-wedgie Prof. Glass in front of his students to send a message. He would "do it another way." What way would that be? In a dark parking lot? At Prof. Glass's home? At a traffic stop? Out of sight, nice and quiet? Quite a sheriff you got there, Mercer County! It's like Goodfellas (this scene, maybe?), but this guy's got a badge.

Larkin has his honor to protect, of course. His easily damaged "feelings" remain the same, and he apparently stormed into that classroom to combat the "outright lies" that Prof. Glass was saying about him. Golly, "outright lies." About a public figure, no less. Man, the law has never had to deal with this sort of allegation before. What to do? Since duels have been outlawed, I guess one just has to show up and make the guy say he's sorry by whatever means necessary.

So Sheriff Larkin, can anyone in Mercer County pack heat and force public apologies out of people they think are telling lies, or just you? Also, if you've known Prof. Glass for 30 years and you still thug him up in front of his students, what on earth do you do to helpless suspects when you're interrogating them in a locked, windowless room?

And what were Prof. Glass's alleged "lies" anyway? The public fact that the divorced Larkin pays alimony? Nope, that appears to be true, or at least Larkin didn't deny it. Larkin does deny paying child support, however: "I take care of my kids, I take one to day care, I drop one off at school .... One thing I consider myself is a decent father."

Awwww. He supports his kids! What a sweet family guy. He may be an abusive cop who sucks the public dry while he humiliates a teacher, but he also does things every parent on earth is supposed to do! He's just like any Jersey parent, except that he can threaten any other parent and get away with it.

By contrast, when Prof. Glass's kids asked him how his day went on February 1, maybe he said something like this: "I was publicly humiliated by a cop who treated me like a nerd getting a swirlie in front of all the people I'm supposed to give grades to. He got tipped off by one of my students, whom I still have to treat decently because I'm a decent guy. I work hard for my money, and I pay taxes so the same bully who abused me can get a pension for a job he's still doing. I'd like to take you kids to Disneyworld to forget about all this, but money's short because of the crazy property taxes I'm paying so the bully can make multiple times what I make for teaching people. And no one in the county government has ever stood up to defend me or make the bully apologize. The bully says he's still mad, and that he isn't through with me. Now get some sleep, kids, and pleasant dreams!"

Next, Larkin claims that Glass said his house was run down. Oooooh! Of course, Larkin wasn't actually there to hear this alleged slur, but no matter. Larkin must be one insanely proud homeowner, even by NJ standards, to go after people he has heard don't like his house. Even then, however, by common protocol Larkin should have waited until Glass also said that his mom wore combat boots.

Finally, Larkin claims that Prof. Glass "mockingly offered Larkin's cell phone number to the women in the class when Larkin left a phone message." Would this be an office cell phone? Paid for by the public? Even assuming it was Larkin's special secret private number, didn't he have campus security hand it over to Prof. Glass on a discardable note? Prof. Glass then apparently thought the note was a joke. Who wouldn't? After all, how could Prof. Glass know he had a mole in the class texting Larkin? In any event, isn't Prof. Larkin divorced? He should have been grateful for the help. Even if Prof. Glass was "mocking" him, no doubt Larkin's showing up to humiliate him and make him publicly apologize revealed him to be the sensitive guy womens' mags gush about.

So there you have it, folks. An unrepentant cop who's still fuming and packing heat, and a county government that can barely be shamed into stopping him. Every bully has his facilitator, one supposes. Maybe this time, though, a thug and his friends will get the justice they deny others.