As a supporter of law enforcement but a bigger supporter of the people it is hard for me to teach good choice making when law enforcement officers do illegal things or make bad choices. I understand they are human, and human beings do bad things, but should they be held to a higher standard?
Every law enforcement official or politician I spoke to said, yes, they should be held to a higher standard. One high ranking police official I spoke to said, “Corruption of any kind by my guys will not be tolerated, I take it personal as I wear the badge” he also went on to say it does go on, but most officers are brave, caring, compassionate people who love their jobs and love serving the people.
To highlight some incidents just in the past year in central Florida we have seen a police chief get arrested for interfering in a criminal sex case, a police chief get fired for covering up a drug theft by a police commander in a police evidence locker, a police chief resign in the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing, a police officer get reprimanded for manipulating his police cruiser camera and a former police chief being looked at for some very serious things.
Independent oversight is the answer… Most agencies already have accreditation but it is quite obvious that isn’t working. If it was, we wouldn’t be having all the incidents we are with regards to officer misconduct.
Accreditation is a rubber stamp and has become part of the problem. Insiders tell me it is a joke and as a man who was behind the wall and been involved with accreditation, I can attest to it being a joke and waste of money. The agency knows when the accreditation team is coming and the facility cleans up its act. It’s a dog and pony show. That has to stop.
With a true independent oversight team they would have authority to go in any agency or facility with NO notice and at any time. A team of an ex-con, guard, warden, police officer, accountant, nurse and food service guy would inspect the facility and give a true assessment; with the understanding they are there to FIX the problems, even if the problem is the administration of the prison or agency.
Just having a TRUE independent oversight team will help. The agencies will never know when the team will show up. That alone will make a difference. The team can be funded by private prisons and private medical companies that have large high dollar contracts with facilities.
Higher officials need to be held to a higher standard. Leadership is not something we should take lightly and neither should the people in those positions.
Exposing corruption is also the job of the people. If you see a police officer or official doing something wrong, it is your duty to not turn away, not ignore it, and do whatever you can to correct a bad situation. In today’s technologically advanced world we all have video cameras on our phones, the cities have cameras everywhere and corruption and doing wrong will be exposed.
Nobody is asking anyone to get into anyone’s private life. If you are doing right you have nothing to worry about. The officials that cry the loudest are the ones that have something to hide.
I was once told by an F.B.I. agent that one bad cop is worse than 20 bad civilians. I tend to believe that. It is all about how much the citizens trust the police and their officials.
Larry Lawton and the Reality Check Program work with police agencies to build community relations. Breaking down the “us against them” mentality is so important. When police chiefs’ ignore community relations they lose the most important tool they have. THE PUBLIC.