A few weeks ago a story hit the news about two plainclothes NYC police officers accused of raping a young female whom they had arrested on a minor narcotics charge. According to the complaint, the girl was with two male friends when stopped. The officers found an unknown number of loose Prozac and Klonopin pills in her purse. They arrested her and told the male companions to pick her up later at the precinct. Here’s where it gets bad. After loading the female up in the transport wagon, the woman says that the two officers sexually assaulted her in the wagon, enroute to the precinct. The officers denied the charge.
I’m fully aware that many complaints are wrongfully lodged against police officers every day. However, in this case, DNA from her sexual battery exam, and I presume the wagon, matches the officers. What came next is really troubling to me. You guessed it, just like virtually every defendant any one of us has ever arrested for rape, they now say the sex was consensual. They resigned from NYPD because they know sex on duty is a violation of NYPD policy. So, they eliminated their firing and are acting like every perp we’ve arrested for rape by claiming she wanted it. The cop in me says a handcuffed prisoner cannot consent. Full stop.
But this New York case gets even worse. Now, there is an allegation by the victim that no less than nine other officers questioned and tried to intimidate her at the hospital the night of the incident. If your instinct is to defend the officers or say the woman and her mother are lying, remember hospitals have cameras and large staffs as potential witnesses. Maybe those other cops thought they were trying to help their fellow brothers in blue, but leaning on a sexual battery victim isn’t helping anyone. It’s only making the situation worse.
Let’s be real. If the woman had accused her two male companions of rape, and we found handcuffs and firearms in the car or on them, we would charge them appropriately with armed sexual battery, or forcible rape, or whatever your state’s language. We would say matching DNA made the case a slam dunk and congratulate ourselves on a job well done. We do it every day. The fact that the accused are cops doesn’t change the probable cause.
The victim’s story and DNA in this case make her complaint credible. The fact that the accused are two armed police officers makes this power dynamic even more disturbing. Their professional status makes this infinitely worse. Yes, they should be held to a higher standard. We should be angry when guys like this shame our profession, not twisting ourselves into pretzels trying to defend the indefensible. No, I don’t want to hear how they’re just a couple of bad apples, or about her personal history. None of that is relevant. The police officers were in a position of authority and power. With that authority comes a responsibility to behave professionally.
What’s crazy is that there is no law in New York that prohibits on-duty, armed, police officers from having sex on duty. The sadder truth is that there is no such law in most states. I served as a police officer in Florida, and I’m glad to say that on-duty sex–even consensual–is grounds for state revocation of police certification. The loss of police certification is the least the public should expect from those we entrust with public safety.
Right now, even in states like Florida, there is no mandatory reporting of sexual misconduct if no criminal charge is filed. There is currently no national database or reporting of officer misconduct. The decertification database is voluntary and woefully incomplete. This allows departments to ignore the practice as they see fit, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how that might empower guys like these former NYC detectives to prey on vulnerable women. We can no longer tolerate a systemic failure to deal with sexual misconduct on duty. Law enforcement needs a professional code of conduct and mandatory standards nationwide. Our profession requires public trust to succeed. A uniform morals conduct policy with real penalties and consequence like permanent revocation of police certification is a good place to start.
“No one is required to choose the profession of a police officer. But having chosen it, everyone is obligated to perform its duties and live up to the highest standards of its requirements.” –Calvin Coolidge
5 thoughts on “We cannot tolerate sexual misconduct”
Hear, hear! Shall we start by passing this idea by our sheriff? He is an elected official, after all.
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I think every law enforcement official, elected or appointed, should be held to higher standards of leadership and reforms that demand integrity from those we entrust to serve and protect.
Three’s no difference between organized crime and the one’s fighting it today.
In 1981 a police officer was set up and shot by an unknown assailant escaping in the officer’s police cruiser, turning on the emergency roof lights, after reporting that a disbarred lawyer had cheated and was elected mayor of a town in a recount. The information the officer believes lead to his demise was passed on the the Chief of Police.
The officer was shot 5 times and spent 3 weeks in intensive care. He recovered only to be pushed out of the force. Unable to convince police investigators he was shot by a police officer years later he found out they had destroyed all the evidence 5 months after the officer was shot. The reports listed below in the link lead the Chief and others to resign, a Retired Major M.P. was hired and he was given the mandate to rid the force of all police officers working when this shooting took place. He fulfilled his mandate and the force was closed and disbanded but 36 years later the officer still can’t get closure and they have ruined his life.
Please pass this on maybe some ting good can come out of this for him… http://unsolvedmajorcrime.blogspot.ca/2014/04/1981-shediac-town-police-rcmp-major.html?m=1
Thank you for your article. I thought you would find this video interesting — from a victim’s perspective of police misconduct: https://youtu.be/7N5MUulFhvY
The only reason why you don’t have databases and laws regarding police conduct while on duty is that the cops don’t want those databases to follow them when they moved from one police agency to another one. They also don’t want restrictions place on them while on duty is because they feel that they are above the law. Why is it that we have to have a new law every time a cop misbehaves when they should have the common sense not to do those things?