Sunday, July 26, 2009

Should officers who use drugs, lie to investigators, remain on police force?

This is not a Texas case but the difficulties faced by the Boston PD in disciplining bad cops come up again and again in the Lone Star State, particularly in agencies whose employment policies are governed by Texas' civil service code. Here are the opening lines to a Boston Globe editorial about the local PD's weak response to an egregious corruption case ("Too easy on rogue cops," July 9):
BOSTON POLICE Commissioner Edward Davis sent a weak message on police misconduct last week -- all the more so because it was timed to generate minimal publicity. The disciplining of officers in a steroid-use scandal deserves greater scrutiny, especially given the city's recurring problems with rogue officers.

Davis parceled out punishments ranging from written reprimands to a 45-day unpaid suspension to 11 officers who were involved in steroid use or had frequented an afterhours club in Hyde Park where drugs, alcohol, and prostitutes were present. The punishments are a byproduct of a federal investigation in 2006 that culminated in the arrest and lengthy imprisonment of three former Boston Police officers for protecting a large shipment of cocaine arranged by federal agents posing as drug dealers. The head of that protection racket, former officer Roberto Pulido, was a steroid user who also guarded parties at the after-hours club frequented by police.

Davis acknowledges that termination, not suspensions, would have been a more "appropriate punishment" for some of the officers who not only used illegal drugs but also lied about such use to the department's anti-corruption investigators. But like his predecessors, Davis says he is handcuffed by an aggressive union, contractual language that metes out light punishment for first-time drug violations, and labor arbitrators who overturn long suspensions and terminations.
Going forward, officers who used drugs and lied to anti-corruption investigators are worthless to the department: Even if they continue to perform police work, they can never be called to testify in court because they'd be easily discredited. If they'd lie to official investigators, who doesn't believe they'd lie to a jury?

Cops deserve due process rights just like everybody else, but the public also needs to be protected from corrupt law enforcement. When a department determines officers lied to investigators and participated in illegal drug markets, it's a grave disservice to the public to keep them on the force just because management fears the union's political clout.

12 comments:

EdT. said...

This should be a MAJOR concern to police officers around the country: behavior like this, combined with slap-on-the-hand punishments, drives down the level of credibility for ALL officers. And, when much of their testimony is basically of the "he-said-he-said" variety, any decrease in their believability translates to a higher bar that must be met to secure convictions, and could easily result in folks looking to further restrict how/when they can use potentially deadly tools like Tasers, pepper spray, and quite possibly their sidearms.

~EdT.

Anonymous said...

They should not remain on the police force. Look at the rest of the population. What do they get when confronted with charges of any drug use. Usually probation or time in jail. Police officers are no better than the rest of us. They just have badges and a code of silence that protects them from getting charges. All they get is a slap on the hand.

ryanpaige said...

If they prosecute them and put them in jail, they could probably fire them for not showing up for work.

Though maybe not.

Anonymous said...

Police officers should be better and should be held to a higher standard (no probation for convistion - jail / prison time sounds great. Why do i say that - they know the law therefore there is no excuse. After all that is a great honor - that is to be selected to fight crime.

Roy said...

Police should be held to the same standard as everyone else, but this will never happen. The police cannot police themselves.

Charlie O said...

Wrong Roy. Police should not be held to the same standard as you or I. They should be held to a higher standard. After all, they took an oath to uphold the law, and they've been given the power of life and death over the public. Neither you or I (assuming you are not a LEO) have made that pledge or have been given that power by the state. They should be given double sentences than any "regular" citizen. Unfortunately, due to their status, they are usually given the HALF the time.

Andres Morin III said...

I'm sorry Grits, but, are you saying that this is NOT normal police behavior?? When I was young, one of my first jobs was a waiter in a restaraunt. Policemen would frequently come in and ask if we offered free or deeply, discounted meals for THEM. Thank God, the restaurant owner thought them to be no better than anyone else who dines out(actually the opposite)! If you can't afford the meal, then you eat at home!! I would actually be embarrassed to be trolling around town in search of FREE meals!!....andy

R. Shackleford said...

I agree wholeheartedly with Charlie. These people are supposed to be the best of us, and should act accordingly. We are policed by consent, and I certainly would not consent to be policed by such men as these Boston leos turned out to be.

Boyness said...

Lie, they already do this so well.

Anonymous said...

As expected there is no useful contribution to the issue in these posts.

Boyness said...

Anonymous said...

As expected there is no useful contribution to the issue in these posts.

7/27/2009 01:36:00 PM
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You must be a cop which would explain why you cannot understand our disgust and sarcasm.

Andres Morin III said...

Well said Boyness!! He/ she probobly trolls around town for FREE FOOD too!! Shame on you...COP!!...andy