“Tainted Justice” Police Officer Fired. Will It Take?

Most fired officers end up returning to the force.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has fired Jeffrey Cujdik — the narcotics squad officer who was at the heart of the Daily NewsPulitzer-winning “Tainted Justice” series — just weeks after officials announced no charges would be brought in the case. Three other narcotics squad officers are keeping their jobs, but will be temporarily suspended, then transferred from the narcotics squad.

One question: Will Cujdik stay fired? That’s not a sure thing: NBC Philadelphia reported last year that an arbitrator had reversed nine out of every 10 firings that Ramsey had made for cause — it’s really hard to lose your job as a police officer in Philadelphia. Three reasons to be skeptical, then, that Cujdik’s firing means he’s leaving the squad:

• The Fraternal Order of Police sounds ready to challenge. The Inquirer reports: “John McNesby, president of Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police, said, ‘We are aware of the pending discipline and will be speaking to the commissioner in the coming days.'” McNesby, of course, has defended the innocence of the officers since the first story broke.

• Cujdik is the only officer being marked for termination. Ramsey says that’s because his misdeeds were the most extensive, but it also marks him as an outlier in the case.

• The Daily News didn’t get this story. The Inquirer initially trumpeted news of the firings as an “exclusive” on Twitter, and today’s Daily News story relies on the Inky’s reporting. “Attempts by the Daily News to reach Ramsey last night were unsuccessful,” the paper reported. That’s a bit odd, and not quite indicative of, ahem, transparency.

For now, though, it appears that some level of justice has been done in this long-running case. (The Daily News articles appeared in 2009.)

“This is a black mark on the department,” Ramsey told the Inquirer. He blamed the incident on “a few who lost sight of the values of the department.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)