Monday, September 17, 2007

Kaufman Sheriff: Prosecuting bad eggs would help 'gypsy cop' problem

Kaufman County Sheriff Edward Byrnes is setting a good example for other Sheriffs and police chiefs around the state.

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.


Anonymous said...

Even if they get convictions, they can go to California with a criminal record, have a judge suppress it, and join the LAPD.

Anonymous said...

The practice of looking the other way and transferring problem priests didn't work for the Chatholic Church. After a lot of press coverage, I do hope things have changed in the Church.

It shouldn't be tolerated in law enforcement either. There should be complete and persistant coverage of incidents in the press until this practice is also eliminated.

If we are to respect the law, no one can be held above the law!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said... It shouldn't be tolerated in law enforcement either. There should be complete and persistant coverage of incidents in the press until this practice is also eliminated.

Unknown said...

Let's face it: these cops already know how to work the legal system. Prosecution would be expensive to say the least - and a lot of these rogues are buddies with the DA. The traditional relationship between DA and police departments is just short of incestuous. I've seen where a DA enforces the law against rogue cops. That DA ended up indicted by the AG - and later acquitted. He won reelection but retired shortly thereafter hounded out of office. And this was in Texas!

Anonymous said...

Another problem arises when an officer is allowed to resign instead of being fired when he/she engages in misconduct. However, the consequensce can be challenging. A police chief in my county fired an officer for non-criminal misconduct and has been sued and legally harassed by the officer ever since. Perhaps enlarging the immunity statute would prove useful in these situations.

Barrie, what county was that in and when? I am not certain there was really a connection between the prosecution of a police officer and the subsequent indictment of the prosecutor. How about some facts instead of an allegation?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Ken, I'm totally with you on strengthening immunity in officer terminations.

There's also a big problem with the civil service code for the 73 cities under it - they're not even allowed to consider misconduct in promotions under Chapter 143. That doesn't effect the Kaufman Sheriff, but it's a big deal - really almost the opposite of the gypsy cop problem, since instead of roaming from department to department, bad cops in those departments are basically impossible to fire.

Anonymous said...

L.E.O. here.

Glad to see the Sheriff take a verbal stand. Things are getting better in law enforcement, BTW. Not pay, mind you (least not in south Tx), but accountability. Check out Wilson County/Jasper McDonald's case.