Column: Police hide behind badges to commit crimes

Most of what we have heard in the news involving the misconduct from police officers lately has been about the unjust violence inflicted upon the black community; the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, among many others stand as proof of a badge given too much power.

The issue that isn’t getting the attention it needs is that hundreds of officers are using their power in order to get away with sexual misconduct.

As The Associated Press reported earlier this month, about 1,000 officers lost their badges during a six-month period for sex crimes that included rape, sodomy and possession of child pornography among other crimes.

William Ruscoe, a Connecticut police officer, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl he met through a program for teens interested in law enforcement; Jonathan Bleiweiss in Florida was sentenced to five years in prison for pressuring 20 immigrant men into sex acts; and Michael Garcia, a New Mexico police officer was given nine years in federal prison for sexually assaulting a high school police intern.

However, these findings did not uncover the entire reality behind the issue, considering some states allowed officers to get away with their crimes while other states like California and New York do not have systems that decertify officers for misconduct.

Out of the officers found guilty of sexual misconduct, some faced criminal charges, while others were able to avoid prosecution simply by agreeing to surrender their certifications.

Rather than doing what must be done in order to keep the public safe, the authorities are doing anything in their power to keep these criminal officers safe.

“We’re hiring from the human race, and once in a while, the human race is going to let us down,” defended Ohio Sheriff Russell Martin in an interview with the Associated Press, who believes that the best chance at preventing sexual misconduct is to perform deeper background checks during officers’ application process.

Of course it is unrealistic to expect officers to be perfect exemplary figures, but it is only fair to punish them for their crimes just as regular citizens would be.

After all, nobody ever excused a school teacher from a sexual assault by clarifying that they were only human bound to make such mistakes, nor did anyone ever forgive their behavior by simply removing their license to teach.

The main problem also doesn’t lie within the background checks during the application process. The problem is that these officers are given the power to use their badge as freely as they wish, knowing they will probably get away with anything in the end.

Take for example, the prostitution ring that was found in our very own Tucson community. After investigations led to the firing of four officers and the crime-scene technician, Pima County still declared that those officers would not be prosecuted.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, it was said that there was not enough evidence that these officials had engaged in an act of prostitution. However, following certain details of the case such as sightings of an officer entering for an appointment and other officers being on the business’s contact list, it becomes unclear whether authorities are protecting the public or the former officers.

According to the AP report, many victims admit to not wanting to come forward to testify against officers because they know that they have no power over them.

Not only are people refusing to come forward in fear of worsening their own circumstances, but officers are always covered and defended in order for law enforcement agencies to be able to keep a somewhat clean image.

By allowing this misconduct, we are creating a society in which it is fine for authorities to misuse their power to harm the public.

Who are we supposed to call now when we don’t feel safe, and don’t even feel like we can count on the authorities?

The only solution is to stop covering up for police officers, and actually prosecute them for crimes just as we would any other person. We won’t fix the problem by hiding in fear, but rather by coming together and standing against it.


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