How Fire Departments Are Like The Sopranos


Longtime Reason reader (20+ years!) Kevin Mark Lambert sends along this heartwarming tale of municipal extortion in the great American city of Des Moines, Iowa:

Kathleen Carter, an 18-year veteran of the Des Moines Fire Department, was accused by a Des Moines businessman of using her position as a fire inspector to try to get a better deal on a lawn mower and snowblower she planned to purchase for herself….

According to police and fire department records, Carter was in uniform and working Sept. 30 when she went to Krumm Sales and Service, 825 E. University Ave., to shop for a lawn mower. While at the store, she told employees that their equipment-repair garage didn't have the required fire-safety permit and that she wanted to buy a mower.

Kim Hamilton, who works for a local printing company, told police he happened to be at Krumm when Carter was there. Hamilton told police he saw Carter put a hand on an employee's shoulder and say, "If you work with me, I'll work with you."

More here. This story has a happy ending–for the extortionist at least: "The fire chief wrote that the woman could have been fired, but he chose to be 'very lenient.'" So that means instead of getting shitcanned, Carter was demoted "from fire inspector to firefighter [which] will reduce her annual pay from $59,093 to $50,187."