K-9 cop in bar theft criminally charged, committed for mental evaluation

Officer Kenneth Crockett, the K-9 cop accused of pocketing cash from the Lower Northeast bar where Officer Gary Skerski was slain in 2006, was formally charged today with theft and receiving stolen property, District Attorney Seth Williams and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said at a news conference this morning.

Crockett, 56, is in the hospital after his family, concerned that he would harm himself, had him involuntarily committed for a mental health evaluation early this morning, Williams said. When the 26-year veteran is released from the hospital, he will be placed of a 30-day suspension with intent to dismiss, Ramsey said.

Ramsey further announced that he plans to submit a plan to fight police corruption to Mayor Nutter today or Monday. He declined to divulge details of the plan, other than to say it would focus equally on preventative action and aggressive internal investigation.

The bar theft occurred after Crockett and two other officers responded to a burglary alarm Tuesday morning at a property adjacent to Pat's Cafe at Castor Avenue and Arrott Street.

The officers found no evidence of wrongdoing at that property, but when they saw that a grate at the neighboring Pat's was unlocked, they went inside, to ensure that burglars weren't hiding out in the bar, Ramsey said.

Once inside, the officers alerted the bar's owner and security company and helped themselves to soda and water. Moments before they left, the bar's video surveillance system caught Crockett entering the bar's unlocked safe and taking money.

Investigators later determined that $825 is missing; the cash has not been recovered.

Ramsey this morning emphasized that the other two officers who accompanied Crockett did nothing wrong and returned to street duty today.