Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Above the Law

Many people may not consider this topic to specifically be police corruption, but it is something that an officer does that is not lawful, and unethical. Recently an on call deputy with the Sacramento County Sheriff's department plead guilty to having sex with a 13 year-old girl that he picked up while on duty and took to a hotel in Lincoln. The former deputy, Eric Cephus, made a plea bargain in which he will only serve 18 years in prison and have to register as a sex offender, instead of serving life in prison. This incident is not the first time that a Sacramento County Sheriff's deputy has severely broken the law. Previous incidents include the following:
  • "In January 2009, Dr. Peter Dietrich, the department's doctor overseeing medical care at the jail, was arrested on charges of overprescribing OxyContin."
  • "Three months later, Deputy Chu Vue was arrested for allegedly masterminding the murder of his wife's lover, a correctional officer."
  • "In September, Deputy Lisa Gargano was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of prescription drugs after she crashed her sport-utility vehicle into a Natomas Starbucks."
  • "The next month, Lt. Michael Patrick Leary was arrested in connection with a real estate transaction that authorities allege was designed to defraud a former girlfriend." (Minugh and Fletcher, 2010)
Once a person becomes a police officer, they often change the way they think and look at things. This "cop mentality" is present in all officers. Once an officer, one is more aware of their surroundings, thinks about situations as right and wrong under the law, interprets the law, and makes many instant decisions. Not all officers take advantage of being an officer. What is meant by that is, not all officers are going to walk into a store and expect to get a free soda just because they are an officer. Going even further into depth with this subject, the free soda turns into stealing a candy bar while working a crime scene, stealing a candy bar turns into taking home and keeping a department camera, and so on. The point of this is that once the officer gets away with doing one thing, the severity of the following actions increases. Eventually we reach a point where the officer believes that he is above the law. The law simply does not apply to that officer because he is a police officer. Police officers will practice extraordinary discretion in order to do a favor for other officers. At first officers tend to get away with their actions but as they progressively get worse, a line is drawn. No officer should be treated as they are above the law. Laws are not created solely for law enforcement officials to enforce them, but for them to be followed by everyone. Including officers.

References


Minugh, Kim and Fletcher, Ed
. Sacramento on-call deputy accused of sexual assault of 13-year-old. Sacramento Bee. March 4, 2010.

Newton, Jim. Shaking the 'Warrior Cop' Mentality a Test of City's Will. Los Angeles Times. July 16, 2006.

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