A new program of dealing with errant cops has been quietly rolled out over the past few years. Called the “conditional official reprimand”, this new way of dealing with behavioral problems within the ranks has some people calling foul.
Officials state the old way of doing things simply was simply ineffective. Now, the initial violation may bring about a more lenient result but it’s designed to bring harsher penalties to those who don’t learn their lesson the first time around.
The Police Commission isn’t completely convinced of the new approach. “The way it’s being handled minimizes the seriousness of these situations,” said Commissioner Alan Skobin. “If an officer commits a criminal act…there is some real angst…when, basically in department the worst thing that happens is that they’re being told, ‘The next time you do that it’s going to be serious.’”
The department and Deputy Chief Mark Perez believe that by offering a reprimand for a first time flub and really drilling home that second and subsequent offenses will bring about major repercussions, they can stop those officers who are truly good and set the stage to fire those who are trouble.
Perez, who designed the new system, says “We have to lead as if we’re going to progress past just punishing people and expecting that to get anything done.” With this approach, he believes officers are given the opportunity to make right their mistakes, learn from them, or suffer severe consequences.
The Commission, however, wonders just how severe those consequences are. They are also concerned that the reprimands are not being used in a consistent manner. For instance, of 8 officers who received a drunk driving charge, five were told that a second offense would get them fired while three were told they would be suspended the second time around. Before this new approach, the officers would have likely been suspended for the first offense.
Only fourteen of these official reprimands were issued in 2008. One-hundred nine were issued in 2010. This jump has many wondering if the knowledge that virtually nothing will be done on a first offense violation has officers less likely to avoid the offense.
The people want to know that those enforcing the laws adhere to the laws and are not above them. A cop with a domestic violence conviction, for instance, should be subject to the same consequences as an employee in the private industry would or consequences that are perhaps even more severe.
A police officer’s record can affect his perceived integrity and is sometimes even brought up in criminal trials where the officer in question did the arresting. After all, a police officer who violates laws isn’t necessarily the best judge of character and law abiding behavior.
If you are facing criminal charges and you question the professionalism of the officers or even the justification for your arrest, you should talk with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact our California Defense Attorneys today to discuss your case.