Officers who Break the Law Face Harsh Consequences - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/01/05 - East Texas

Officers who Break the Law Face Harsh Consequences

by Ramonica R. Jones

Whenever an officer gets in trouble with the law, it's a sad and embarrassing day in law enforcement.  Whether it's sexual assault, embezzlement or drunk driving, authorities are held to a higher standard than you or me and could end up paying a higher price when they commit a crime.

Angelina County district attorney Clyde Herrington says, "If a person chooses to be a law enforcement officer, they have a knowledge of the law and should generally be expected to conduct themselves in a manner that's appropriate for a law enforcement officer."

Herrington is among those who believe an officer getting in trouble while on the job should face a harsher punishment than an off duty officer who breaks the law.

"If an officer has some problem with the law totally unrelated to his job, I don't think he ought to get any special treatment; and by that I mean he should be afforded the same rights and privileges as anyone else who's accused of a crime," Herrington says. 

One bad apple spoils the whole bunch is more than just a saying when it comes to law enforcement.  When an officer ends up on the wrong side of the law, it's a bad reflection on the entire force.  It can also have a big impact on public perception.

Lufkin police lieutenant Greg Denman says, "People do regard all law enforcement together, so if a sheriff's deputy messes up, then it reflects back over to the police department, state troopers, everyone."

Unlike anyone else who commits a crime, officers who find themselves in handcuffs face double consequences.  Not only do they have to deal with punishment for breaking the law, there's also a matter of violating their department's policy.

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