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Knowing misconduct
By Tracy E. Barnhart
Published: 11/24/2008

Tracy Barnhart is a Marine combat veteran of Desert Storm / Desert Shield. In 2000, he joined the Ohio Department of Youth Services at the Marion Juvenile Corrections Facility, a maximum security male correctional facility housing more than 320 offenders. Barnhart works with 16 to 21-year-old, male offenders with violent criminal convictions and aggressive natures. In his monthly column, he discusses everyday issues affecting corrections professionals.

In my previous article, What is misconduct? I mentioned that when it comes right down to it, many officers do not even know what constitutes misconduct or how it’s investigated in the first place.

Incredibly, I know that a few of you probably said to yourself that misconduct could never happen to me or at my agency. As you read the following true articles ask yourself, “Do I really know myself, and what I would do in situations like these?”

“Two rogue Rikers Island guards who allegedly smuggled contraband to an accused cop killer were pushing marijuana, tobacco and alcohol, authorities revealed yesterday. Correction officers August Durand, 31, and Michael Santiago, 24, were fired for supplying the illicit substances to inmate Lee Woods as he awaited trial for gunning down NYPD officer Russel Timoshenko.”

“Four Fayette County jail officers and one former officer have been indicted on charges they beat inmates and then conspired to cover it up by writing bogus reports and threatening others not to report the incidents. Those named in the federal indictment released Thursday are Sgt. John McQueen, Cpl. Clarence McCoy, former Cpl. Scott Tyree, Sgt. Anthony Estep and Lt. Kristine Lafoe.

“The first count of the indictment alleges that "the five defendants conspired with each other and with other unindicted individuals to assault inmates without justification, and to cover up their conduct by filing false reports and charges."

“A federal grand jury indicted the police chief of a small town in northern Kankakee County on charges of running a prostitution scam that bilked more than $400,000 from 99 men who handed over the money to avoid the shame of being prosecuted for soliciting a $300-an-hour hooker over the Internet, prosecutors said Wednesday.”

“A former Orange County sheriff's reserve officer accused of using his badge and gun to intimidate two slower-playing golfers was convicted Thursday of making a criminal threat against one, but he was acquitted of gun charges, City News Service reported.”

Border Patrol agent Jesus Huizar along with two other people is sitting in jail charged with smuggling more than 100 illegal immigrants. Those who live on the 9000 block of Geranium say the house at 9072 Geranium, that ICE agents said was used as a safe house for illegal immigrants, seemed suspicious to them. ICE agents say 28-year-old Huizar is a Border Patrol agent in Las Cruces. "He is suspected of having allowed more than 100 illegal aliens past his checkpoint in New Mexico, in exchange for $500 a piece," said Leticia Zamarripa with ICE.

Unfortunately, there are many, many more stories than these. Yet there are really just three main causes for law enforcement and correctional misconduct: Greed, anger, and lust.

Would you believe that the number of law enforcement officers housed in prison has increased dramatically in the past four years? In response to this, the Rampart Corruption Report said, “Failure to hold officers responsible and accountable is perhaps the greatest challenge to American law enforcement.”

There are three misconduct classifications: Malfeasance, which is the intentional commission of an act prohibited by law or regulation; misfeasance, or the improper performance of a required action; and nonfeasance, the failure to perform required duties.

But what about this one – “Noble cause misconduct?” This is when officers commit the action for the betterment of society. It is committed to get the bad guys off the streets, and is based on the “protecting the innocent” and “this is why we became police officers,” ideals.

After an arrest have you heard a comment like, “the ends justify the means?” or “sometimes you have to break the law, in order to enforce the law?”

In reality, this is misconduct, but it’s when an officer performs a little creative writing to establish probable cause to make the arrest stick.

If you sit back and digest this information as it pertains to enforcement, no doubt you’ll realize that we might be sounding a little bit like the criminals we are policing. Other articles by Barnhart:

What is misconduct?

The god complex


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