Of crime and corruption, greed and graft, “Badge of Dishonor” exposes a scandal that occurred at the highest level of the police department from 1962 and 1976 in Shreveport, La.
Written by Jere Joiner, former government reporter for the Pikes Peak Courier newspaper, the narrative is the author’s story as a former police officer who worked under George D’Artois, Shreveport’s Commissioner of Public Safety.
D’Artois was ultimately convicted of murder and public corruption.
“The reason for the book is to tell the story of what happens when there is a lack of accountability in government; and when the bright light of day doesn’t shine on government,” Joiner said. “Law enforcement is a part of government.”
Because most of the main players are still alive, Joiner took some risk in releasing the book this month. “I’m only worried about one person who probably won’t like what I had to say,” he said. “But that’s part of being a writer, a reporter.”
Almost as an aside, Joiner nonetheless emphasizes the role of the media in exposing dastardly deeds by elected officials. “I hope people will pay attention and the media, of course, because the media are the watchdogs for society,” he said. “The media represent the little people, not the big people in power, in government. We don’t have that in Washington, D.C.; we have a supine press.”
While the corruption of George D’Artois and the scandal is now legendary in Shreveport, the story remains relevant today, a not-so-subtle reminder of the officials who trade honesty for power. “Lord Acton said ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,’” Joiner said.
By the time it was all over, one reporter/advertising executive, Jim Leslie, had been murdered and the owners of the newspaper and the local television station were exposed as pawns of the public-safety commissioner.
The story takes place in a time “when cops ruthlessly enforced separation of the races,” Joiner writes in the introduction. “The n-word won’t be found, even though it was all-too-common expression when whites referred to blacks.”
Joiner stayed out of trouble and worked for three more years after D’Artois’ fall from grace, retiring as a captain of the Detective Division.
He and his wife, Connie, moved to Colorado Springs in 1979 where he worked as an intelligence officer for El Paso County Sheriff’s office before being promoted to captain of the Detective Division. He retired in 1986 when the Joiners moved to Divide. Today they are back in Colorado Springs.
The book meets Joiner’s goal of emphasizing the role of the media in exposing corruption while tapping into his inner journalism which he practiced for seven years at The Courier. “Journalism is probably where I should have been all along,” he said. “It was that meaningful. The people who have printers’ ink for blood, it doesn’t go away.”
The book, $14.95, is available at badgeofhonor.com.