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Husband & Wife Out on Patrol?


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  • Husband & Wife Out on Patrol?,0,877143.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dcal ifornia

    Family Sues CHP Over Crash That Killed Teen
    Jessica Mohorko died after being struck by a patrol car in Oxnard in March. The action alleges the agency is blocking investigation.

    By Steve Chawkins, Times Staff Writer

    Filing suit Monday against the California Highway Patrol, an Oxnard family whose 18-year-old daughter was killed by a CHP cruiser claimed the agency has withheld evidence and skewed its investigation to favor its officers.

    The daughter of an Oxnard police chaplain, Jessica Mohorko died instantly March 23 when a patrol car collided with a car driven by her boyfriend.

    The two had left their senior ball and were going to a restaurant.

    The suit, for unspecified damages, is the latest legal action filed jointly by Jessica's parents, Edgar and Marta Mohorko, and her boyfriend, Christopher Haynes.

    Twice they went to court to force the CHP to turn over accident reports, taped witness interviews, diagrams and other evidence that could be important to their case.

    The suit claims that CHP officers Christina and Jack Raughton -- a married couple who were on patrol together -- overreacted to a minor violation by an unknown motorist and sped recklessly down Oxnard Boulevard just after midnight.

    "There was no evidence of a crime or wrong greater than the one they created by their high speed," the suit said.

    Robert A. Parris, a Lancaster attorney representing the Raughtons, disagreed.

    He said the officers had spotted a speeding driver weaving through traffic and running a red light -- a motorist, he said, who later came forth as a witness in the case.

    "The Raughtons were doing exactly what they were trained to do," said Parris, a former CHP captain.

    "They were correctly following policy by pursuing a suspected drunk driver."

    Parris said the plaintiffs' attorney, Andrew M. Dawson of Woodland Hills, "is either inaccurate by choice or not aware of all the facts."

    He disputed Dawson's claim that the Raughtons were not flashing the appropriate emergency lights before the crash.

    Dawson said the officers acknowledged as much in taped interviews recently released by the CHP.

    On those tapes, Jack Raughton, who was driving the patrol car, estimated he was going 85 mph in a 45-mph zone, Dawson said.

    The suit also takes the CHP to task for allowing married couples to patrol together.

    The practice disrupts the chain of command, creating "a situation where neither partner was in charge," the suit said.

    A CHP spokesman declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

    At a news conference outside the Ventura County courthouse, Dawson was flanked by Haynes, his parents and members of the Mohorko family.

    "Our life is shattered," said Edgar Mohorko, senior pastor at Messiah Foursquare Church in Oxnard. "We lost our daughter."

    Mohorko held back tears as he described Jessica boisterously coming home from school, greeting the cat, calling her brother "Chubs" and joshing her dad.

    "She was basically the life of the house," he said.

    Intent on pursuing a law enforcement career after high school, she was direct and outspoken.

    At the dance she attended before the accident, she grabbed a drunken student's car keys and alerted a teacher, her father said.

    Haynes, captain of Hueneme High School's football team before he graduated, said he's had tough times since the accident. With his left arm held together by a dozen pins and two plates, he no longer plays football.

    A freshman at Cal State Fresno, he is studying health and nutrition with an eye on becoming a hospital dietitian.

    On a chain around his neck, he wears Jessica's gold ring.

    The Raughtons also have suffered, said their attorney.

    Christina Raughton has returned to work, but her husband still is out with orthopedic injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, Parris said.

    "It was a terrible, tragic accident," he said. "The Raughtons are very sorry for the loss to the Mohorkos."

    Even so, Dawson charged, the CHP's investigation has been nothing more than "an opportunity to manufacture a defense."

    He said investigators interviewed Haynes hours after the accident as he lay in a hospital bed under medication.

    But they did not interview the Raughtons for three days, giving the couple time, he said, to rehearse their accounts.

    Dawson also contended that investigators were quizzing witnesses months after they had given their initial accounts.

    The practice is an attempt to build inconsistencies into testimony that might damage the Raughtons, he said.

    Edgar Mohorko, said accidents involving CHP officers should not be investigated by their colleagues.

    "They know there was wrongdoing," he said, "that proper safety procedures weren't being followed."

    What do you guys think? Personally, I think the department was just setting itself up for something bad to happen. What do your departments or employers have as far as policies on this sort of thing? I would think it would be a bad idea for a husband and wife to work in the same police or sheriff's department, let alone on the same shift and on patrol together. I'm not concerned so much with the officers having impaired judgement during a stressful time, but just the stress of working in the same place will have their marriage. I'm talking about all the rumors and innuendo that could be spread around. Well, anyways, what do you think? Should husbands and wives work in the same department? If so, should they be allowed to patrol together or even work the same shifts?
    A closed mouth gathers no foot. --Unknown

  • #2
    I agree, I think a married couple working that closely is a bad idea. Doesn't sound like it had anything to do with this accident, though. I think the only one responsible is the driver of the patrol car.

    "Bones heal. Chicks dig scars. And the United States of America has the best doctor-to-daredevil ratio in the world!" -- Captain Lance Murdoch, The Simpsons


    • #3
      Oh yeah, the officers being married to each other most definitely had no bearing on the accident, but you just know that the plaintiffs' attorneys are going to play up that aspect as negligence or something else.
      A closed mouth gathers no foot. --Unknown


      • #4
        This reminds me of Rodney King.

        The pursuit was started by a CHiPie husband and wife team.

        I thought the CHP banned husband and wife teams after King.... ?


        • #5
          does "husband and wife" also include boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/main squeeze etc


          • #6
            Our Department has taken no stand on married couples working together. We have one couple that is man & wife & for a while they were on the same patrol shift. Now he is a detective on days & she is on night shift patrol. We also have two brothers working together in Community Policing. Several times we've had dispatchers married to officers & working the same shift.

            My personal view is that I don't like the idea of letting them work together. A couple of times the patrol husband has had a stressful call & the dispatcher wife was on pins & needles waiting for him to call in to say everything was all right. I know of one instance when the wife had to leave the console after hearing the husband was okay & she was shaking & sobbing. When I was a shift supervisor I would not allow a wife to ride with her husband. I always felt that it would cause a bad situation if there was a fight the wife had to witness or a pursuit could turn deadly & take out both parents. We had one shift supervisor who allowed it & one of his officers wound up with an IA investigation when a drunk he arrested spit through the screen into his wife's hair. The ensueing lesson on why-the-drunk-should-not-have-done-that was what prompted the IA.


            • #7
              i'm against married people patrolling in the same car. it would be too easy to get p!ssed if someone hit her.

              i know chasing speeders is a common thing and exceeding the speed limit occurs on a regular basis, but did they forget the "operator of an emergency vehicle must drive with due regard for the safety of others" part? if someone blows a light in front of you that would change things somewhat, but aren't we supposed to be better drivers than most?


              • #8
                I go to work to get away from my wife.

                Can you imagine the nagging in the patrol car???????
                You're driving too fast, you didn't signal, blah blah blah.........


                • #9
                  We have several married couples at our dept. They may work the same shift but in different sectors or districts and off different radio channels.


                  • #10
                    We also have a few married couples that are officers. They are not allowed to work the same patrol division.
                    The ones that have become detectives, are kept in different branches of the investigative bureaus.

                    I don't think it would be a good idea to have spouses working together. I would have a very hard time maintaining my objectivity if someone threatened my wife.
                    Or my girlfriend.

                    [ 11-07-2002, 01:29 PM: Message edited by: 10mill ]


                    • #11
                      First off, it sounds to me like "the good reverand" is just another *** hole trying to make a few fast bucks. Chaplin indeed.

                      However, as to the question of husband/wife working together, while I would not think it a "good idea" I don't really see that much wrong with it either. My biggest concern here would be if husband and wife had kids. Then I don't believe they should team up in the same car. It's bad enough to have a kid lose ONE parent to an MVA, let alone BOTH parents.
                      6P1 (retired)


                      • #12
                        I dont have a problem with husbands and wives working for the same department, but I dont feel like they should be working together.

                        If I were on routine patrol with my wife, and some knuckle head got stupid and hurt my wife, I'd f*** him up, really really bad!

                        It's my wife, and I for one would not have the ability to differentiate between wife/partner while on the job.


                        • #13
                          One good point on husband/wife teams..... there's something(one) to do when it's slow.....


                          • #14
                            There's an insurmountable problem with banning husband/wife teams. Do you ban co-habitating teams? Do you ban boyriend/girlfriend teams? Do you ban girlfriend/girlfriend and boyfriend/boyfriend teams? If you do, then you have to ask people who they're sleeping with. I don't think that's going to fly.

                            The issues are the same in all cases. But if you can't ban the others, how can you discriminate against the ones who are married?

                            How about this scenario? Two single officers start working together and develope a relationship off-duty. The Sgt. takes notice.

                            Sgt. Smith: Officer Jim, I notice that you and Officer Suzy are spending a lot of time together off-duty. You're familiar with our policies regarding patrol partners. So, are you sleeping with her?

                            Officer Jim (looking down at the Sgt. on the floor): F*%& YOU! It's none of your D^&% business!

                            [ 11-09-2002, 11:24 AM: Message edited by: PelicanDriver ]


                            • #15
                              Our department policy simply says that officers have to report the fact that they are involved in a business or social relationship with another officer in the same chain of command. Supervision is then supposed to take appropariate action to avoid a chain of command conflict.

                              With 18 different patrol divisions, 4 traffic divisions, and a myriad of special details, this policy is interpreted to mean anything that an individual commanding officer wants it to mean at a particular time. Sometimes, it is used as an excuse to pry into the intimate details of peoples lives.


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