Ex-cop John Becker caused at least one on-duty vehicle crash during the time he admitted to using informants to obtain drugs for him, according to police accident reports.
During the Dec. 14, 2010 crash, Becker, then a detective sergeant, had rear-ended a vehicle stopped in front of him on North York Road. According to the police report obtained from the Hatboro Police Department, Becker blamed brake failure on the crash, which totaled the borough-owned 2004 Crown Victoria.
"There was nothing remarkable found with reference to the breaking (sic) system. The breaking (sic) system functioned properly at the time of the inspection," the narrative from the accident report states. "The master cylander (sic) was full with fluid and there were no leaks detected in or around the breaking (sic) system."
The borough received $3,910.66 from its insurance carrier, Delaware Valley Insurance Trust, as a payout for the demolished vehicle, according to related borough documents obtained by Patch.
Becker was not tested for alcohol following the crash and drugs and alcohol were not suspected, according to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Police Crash Reporting Form, which investigator and Hatboro Police detective sergeant Cameron Goold completed.
The accident came just five weeks before Becker would be caught in Warminster, allegedly trying to coerce informants to buy OxyContin for his own personal use. That incident started a 16-month-long multi-agency investigation into Becker's alleged misconduct, which led to his arrest earlier this month.
In the criminal complaint against Becker, he admitted to beginning a prescription for OxyContin in 2003 to help with chronic pain. By December 2009, the former decorated officer, according to the complaint, had begun coercing informants to buy drugs to feed his drug habit - under the guise of ongoing narcotics investigations. The latter part of the following year, Becker was said to have stolen guns, cash and drugs from the police department's evidence locker during a roughly six-month period.
It is not clear if Becker's drug use contributed to the Dec. 14, 2010 crash.
According to information found on MedicineNet.com related to opium-based drugs, including OxyContin, "Oxycodone can impair thinking and the physical abilities required for driving or operating machinery."
Six months prior to Becker's December 2010 crash, he was involved in another, less serious crash on June 21, 2010 in which he rear-ended a vehicle that was stopped near South Penn Street while waiting for the SEPTA train to pass through the railroad crossing.
According to the non-reportable accident report, Becker was stopped three to five feet behind another vehicle when he noticed a pickup truck trying to turn behind him from South Penn Street onto westbound Moreland Avenue.
"Unit #1, in an effort to avoid being hit by the pick-up truck, moved forward quickly and struck Unit #2," according to the accident report.
The front end damage to the borough vehicle driven by Becker was listed as "moderate."
Borough officials have declined to say if Becker had been drug tested following either of the accidents. Borough Manager Steven Plaugher told Patch that Hatboro Police do not have to undergo random drug screenings.
Prior to Becker's two on-duty crashes, he rear-ended a driver in the area of York and Roberts roads in Warminster Township on Nov. 26, 2008 while en route to a deposition, according to a police report obtained by Patch. Prior to Warminster Police responding to the crash, Becker, who described himself to the other vehicle's driver as a Hatboro police officer, had left the scene of the accident.
"(Becker) then stated he was distracted and was on his way to a deposition," according to a narrative in the police report. "He told her tried to stop, but could not."
About 30 minutes after the crash, Becker returned to the scene "and admitted to police that he was involved in the accident," according to the accident report.
"He related that he was in a hurry and failed to stop in time," according to the report. "Additionally, he related that he might have broken his left wrist or arm. He refused any medical treatment from the squad at this time. He then drove away."
Prior to his arrest, Hatboro Mayor Norm Hawkes had suspended Becker without pay on March 2, 2011, reaffirmed by the council later that month. Becker resigned from his post amid the investigation in June 2011.
While Hawkes and Police Chief James Gardner have declined to say if Becker had been questioned about purported drug abuse or disciplined prior to his suspension, the contract between the police and the borough outlines those duties as being the responsibility of the borough.
"There are functions, powers, responsibilities and authorities belonging solely to the Borough," states the four-year agreement, which the council approved on Dec. 14, 2009. Listed among them are the hiring and direction of its workforce, as well as "the suspension, demotion, or discharge of employees with just cause."
Whether Becker was properly disciplined may be a matter of opinion. But, based on the police contract, it seems that procedures were not followed with regard to the $7,200 in unused sick and vacation time paid to Becker upon his resignation.
"Vacation time must be taken in the year earned and may not be accumulated or bought, except that up to forty-eight hours of vacation time may be carried over into the following year with the approval of the Chief of Police, in consideration of scheduling demands," states Article XI section 1 of the police contract.
Article XII section 3 of the contract regarding sick leave specifies that "police officers shall be compensated for accumulated unused sick days upon retirement." The contract does not make mention of sick time payment for police who resign from their posts, as Becker did.