St. Paul, Mn., police have been reviewing policies governing the work of undercover officers since Sgt. Gerald Vick was shot to death in May, but a murder trial that ended Friday brought to light new concerns, Police Chief John Harrington told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. With Vick’s blood-alcohol level .20 percent at the time of his death, the department has been rethinking its rules on drinking. After the defense raised questions about Vick’s partner carrying a firearm while consuming alcohol, the department has begun an examination of that policy, Harrington said.
Defining the work of undercover officers is challenging. “I know it’s sometimes tempting for chiefs or other managers to layer on rule after rule, so there’s no chance of misconduct,” Harrington said. “I don’t think that works. You need to train them well, have good supervision and management.” Edward Mamet, a retired New York police captain now a police procedures consultant, said St. Paul ought to be doing what it can to mitigate the dangers inherent in undercover work. Vick and his partner, Sgt. Joe Strong, were investigating prostitution at St. Paul bars when they confronted two men outside one bar. The argument escalated to a shooting in a nearby alley. Harry Evans was convicted Friday of first-degree murder in Vick’s death and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.