An Honorable Man
Paul Pecena (pesh-nuh), 1982 Rockwall High School graduate, returned from duty in Afghanistan in late January of this year. One normally thinks of National Guard duty as summer exercises and monthly meetings, but Lt. Col. Paul Pecena’s military experience has been as lively as any active-duty soldier. Jerry Hogan, author of The Military View, wrote an interesting summary of Paul’s military career through August 2008.
Since 1988, Paul has served dual roles as soldier and Mesquite Police Officer. His country called on his service for peace-keeping in Kosovo and on fronts of the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. Stateside, he served in recovery duty following three disasters: space shuttle Challenger, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Hurricane Rita in Houston.
Paul and his family live in my Rockwall neighborhood and faithfully attend my church (Lake Pointe). Anyone who even casually knows this man and his family would easily discern irregular behavior by Paul – you would think.
Friday night, although not feeling well, Paul decided to report to work with the Mesquite police department. En route, his health deteriorated. Apparently, his condition caused him to drive unstably, motivating a citizen to follow him to the police station. The department called for an ambulance and a paramedic’s examination found nothing more than low blood sugar (71). At this point, Paul was feeling very ill and only minimally able to communicate. At this point, any reasonable person would get him to a doctor – you would think.
Instead of taking him to a nearby hospital, the Mesquite police department charged him with DUI and threw him into a cell. The Pecena nightmare grew darker when a captain and a lieutenant announced charges had been filed and advised his wife to get an attorney for Paul. Paul’s condition improved when given a coke and something to eat. Around 1:00 am, the department released him from jail and allowed him to drive himself home.
Now, I have known a lot of people arrested for DUI – people who got that way from using drugs or drinking alcoholic beverages. Never have I known of such a person being released from jail and allowed to drive themselves home after a short incarceration. Obviously, the Mesquite police department came to recognize that Paul was not abusing either alcohol or drugs. The fact they released him and allowed him to drive an automobile after charging him with DUI proves that – you would think.
Mesquite PD suspended Paul Pecena from the department, pending results from a blood test performed at his request. He also invited, requested, actually, a search of his car and his home. The search of his car produced no evidence of wrongdoing.
If the Mesquite police department will mug “one of their own”, an innocent man, what treatment does an innocent citizen expect? In Mexico, the people say, “If you get mugged, don’t call the police or you will be mugged twice.” It looks to me like Mesquite is a lot closer to Mexico than the map would suggest.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Martin Luther King, Jr.