|Photo: Ross Township Police Department|
|Motorcycle cop Richard White served for 30 years — then was canned for watering a two-foot-tall marijuana plant.|
A 30-year veteran police officer claimed Tuesday his “curiosity” over a two-foot-tall marijuana plant he “found and watered” caused his career to go up in smoke.
Richard D. White, 58, of Shaler, Pa., said he had no idea how fellow police found out about his little buddy, and said he was told to resign after a meeting with Ross, Pa., Police Chief Ralph C. Freedman on August 23, reports Bill Vidonic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“I do regret it,” White said outside his home. “I should have just kicked it over right away.”
White, a motorcycle patrol traffic cop, said he found the plant while on duty about a month ago as he was urinating in a wooded area off Cemetery Lane.
White said he watered the plant once (not by urinating on it), again while on duty, but claimed he “didn’t have any plans” for the illegal little plant.
|Chief of Police Ralph Freedman forced White to resign|
A week after he first saw it, White claimed he “destroyed” the plant. Would that be by burning it, by any chance? A little at the time?
“After I thought about it, I got rid of it,” he said. “I said this was stupid and pulled it out of the ground.”
White said he didn’t tell fellow officers about his find, so he’s not sure how police knew about the plant. When confronted by Freedman, he didn’t deny the accusation, White said.
Ross police said an “internal investigation” determined that an officer might be involved in “illegal activity concerning marijuana.”
Detective Brian Kohlhepp said the Ross Police Department turned over results of their investigation to the Allegheny County District Attorney.
Members of the District Attorney’s office met with Ross police on Tuesday are are “assisting in the investigation,” according to Mike Manko, spokesman for D.A. Stephen A. Zappala Jr.
”We received a request from Ross Township to assist in this investigation,” Manko said, not explaining how two entire departments are needed to investigate one little plant.
“We expect to say more about the results of the investigation (today),” Manko said mysteriously, possibly hoping to extend his 15 minutes of fame for a few extra moments.
Police notified commissioners about the accusation last week, according to Township Commissioner Peter A. Ferraro. Commissioners wanted the matter to be turned over to the district attorney’s office so there would be no perception that officials were covering up the case.
White said his resignation was effective the day he met with the police chief. Kohlhepp would only say “an officer was removed from duty and is no longer employed by the township.”
“We stand behind our police department 100 percent,” Ferraro said. “Whatever it is, we’ll face it and get through it.”
White was still listed as a traffic officer on the Ross Township Police Department website as of mid-morning Wednesday, September 1.