Protect and Serve: Hundreds of officers lose licenses over sex misconduct
Stephen Williams stashed this in Police Powers
A 2011 International Association of Chiefs of Police report on sex misconduct questioned whether some conditions of the job may create opportunities for such incidents. Officers' power, independence, off-hours and engagement with those perceived as less credible combine to give cover to predators, it said, and otherwise admirable bonds of loyalty can lead colleagues to shield offenders.
"You see officers throughout your career that deal with that power really well, and you see officers over your career that don't," said Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty, who fired Holtzclaw just months after the allegations surfaced and called the case a troubling reminder that police chiefs need to be careful about how they hire and train officers.
The best chance at preventing such incidents is to robustly screen applicants, said Sheriff Russell Martin in Delaware County, Ohio, who served on an IACP committee on sex misconduct. Those seeking to join Martin's agency are questioned about everything from pornography use to public sex acts. Investigators run background checks, administer polygraph exams and interview former employers and neighbors. Social media activity is reviewed for clues about what a candidate deems appropriate, or red flags such as objectification of women.
Still, screening procedures vary among departments, and even the most stringent standards only go so far.
"We're hiring from the human race," Martin said, "and once in a while, the human race is going to let us down."
Diane Wetendorf, a retired counselor who started a support group in Chicago for victims of officers, said most of the women she counseled never reported their crimes — and many who did regretted it. She saw women whose homes came under surveillance and whose children were intimidated by police. Fellow officers, she said, refused to turn on one another when questioned.
"They knew the DAs. They knew the judges. They knew the safe houses. They knew how to testify in court. They knew how to make her look like a nut," she said. "How are you going to get anything to happen when he's part of the system and when he threatens you and when you know he has a gun and ... you know he can find you wherever you go?"
Cameras are the answer. One answer. And to think that just a few years ago police, DAs, and state legislatures were strenuously trying to prevent their use. Little Brother > Big Brother.
Cameras are one answer but not the only answer.
Overall we need better behavior. How to make that so is complicated.