A New York City Police Officer is accused of rape. He is also suspected of being a serial rapist. Earlier this year, two cops were acquitted of rape charges but convicted of official misconduct surrounding their actions involving the complainant of the rape accusation.
Two other cops were recently accused of having engaged in a crime spree. Having read these accounts of cops allegedly engaging in criminal conduct, I did a quick search of cops throughout the country being accused of serious and violent criminal activity. Sadly, there were several stories such as police officers convicted in post-Katrina shootings. Police have been accused and convicted of exchanging sex for not making arrests, brutality and other serious crimes.
First, as I always stress, an accusation is not a conviction and the presumption of innocence applies to everybody – cops included. Accordingly, any story of an accusation that may come to mind should not be prejudiced by the convictions of other police officers. Second, we must also recognize that cops are people – imperfect and subject to human foibles. They will, on occasion, make mistakes, use poor judgment or succumb to temptation. While they must be allowed to be imperfect and given a second chance, they must also be held to a higher standard. So, to be allowed to continue as police officers, their digressions must be minor, defensible (to a reasonable degree) and unlikely to reoccur. Police departments are equipped to dispense appropriate penalties. Do not dismiss the impact of demotions, suspensions and the smearing of an officer’s professional record and reputation. Finally, keep in mind that it is the overwhelming number of proud, brave and honest police officers who maintain a free and safe environment for us. I am sure nobody questioned the personnel records of the police officers who went rushing into the World Trade Center, never to return.
However, we cannot dismiss the disconcerting aspect of cops who commit serious crimes. Given their positions of authority, avoiding and solving these crimes becomes extremely difficult. Do cops have that criminal propensity when they first become cops? With most police departments employing professional psychological screening prior to hiring, how likely is that?
Or, does something happen to their personality along the way? Cops have a lot of power. We often hear the quote of Lord Acton, “All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely...” Studies have shown that as human beings, we are generally ill equipped to handle power.
The power cops possess is not just official power, but social power; we can readily recognize our fascination with all things “police.” And, as I point out in my first book, “Walking the Corporate Beat,” life sometimes imitates art. I recall instances of my law enforcement colleagues living “the image” more than being themselves. While being a cop is an exciting career, it is replete with fears, frustrations, sacrifices, second guessing and criticism. The cop psyche is intriguing and complex.
My novel, Midnight Sin, is a deep exploration of a cop’s life and all the experiences and influences that affect that psyche. It crosses that thin line between your world and the dark and mysterious world behind the badge. Midnight Sin Walking the Corporate Beat: Police School for Business People