By now you’re probably asking yourself the question, what’s going on at Fife P.D.?
The continuing story about the antics of former officers, including a drunken crash of a police vehicle, sexting, and what blushingly appears to be consensual sexual contact at the cop shop, is described in Sunday’s Trib article (6-19). All of which must make the outsider wonder whether this is an example of a few individuals venturing off the range or a bizarre cop version of the x-rated reality show “Girls Gone Wild.”
Good question. The recent stories better suggest a lost weekend at a college fraternity than a few shifts at a police agency.
But here’s the thing- no matter if the background were a teacher’s lounge, a corporate office or the backstage of a strip club, sooner or later the wild ones in the group will identify themselves with their risk-taking behavior. In the end, the characters in these scene all represent that most frail of creatures, the human being. So says the English major lurking just below the surface of my skin.
However, on this topic I seem to be of two minds, and as a cop I am embarrassed by the actions of my peers.
The fact that several Fife officers are allegedly involved in these debacles is an issue given the agency’s size (around 30 commissioned officers). That may have a great deal to do with the department’s culture and leadership–then again, it may have nothing to do with either.
This certainly calls into question the extensive screening potential recruits must submit to during the application period, which includes a written test, agility and medical tests, numerous interviews, a polygraph exam and a background investigation. I have seen this system work extremely well over the years. And I have seen it fail.
In addition to the baggage carried into a law enforcement career, the unique pressures of this job can take an unexpected toll. There is shift work, stressful situations and physical danger, and the requirement that officers must sometimes assume an authoritarian role over others. All of these taken together can either bring out or suppress certain traits in people, and the end result is such that police administrators are often forced to remove otherwise experienced and skilled cops from the payroll.
None of this should be seen as an excuse, for with power comes responsibility. The standard of behavior for professions such as police work, where a bond of trust with the community is essential, should be higher.
And the state board that maintains the certification for officers whose conduct breaks that bond should have their certification removed. End of story.