While other departments who catch officers engaged in misconduct often let them resign or terminate them without pressing criminal charges, Byrnes says that that practice encourages "gypsy cops," or officers with checkered histories traveling from department to department ("Sheriff: No staff leniency," Dallas News, Sept. 16).
Sheriff Byrnes said too many law enforcement agencies have quietly dismissed problem officers and not prosecuted them for criminal conduct, enabling so-called "gypsy cops" to go from agency to agency, often taking trouble with them.Three Kaufman deputies have faced criminal prosecution in the last year.
The Sheriff is right. The best way to prevent gypsy cops from victimizing multiple communities is for law enforcement chief executives to ensure that "deputies and jailers ... get the same treatment as private citizens when they break the law."
Most officers never engage in serious misconduct, but until more departments take initiative, like Sheriff Byrnes, to ensure corrupt officers are prosecuted, mechanisms for excluding rogue cops still need to be strengthened further. See related Grits coverage.