Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Power & Corruption

It's said that 'power corrupts', but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power. When they do act, they think of it as service, which has limits. The tyrant, though, seeks mastery, for which he is insatiable, implacable.
David Brin, The Postman

A small southern town is roused from peaceful slumber by violent crimes against persons and property that seem to fall under the radar of the peace officers the citizens depend on for protection.

Concerns and complaints are treated as rumors and speculation until the mayor’s son is arrested on federal drug charges, a lead investigator with the town’s police force is arrested on federal drug charges for allegedly using his position to promote drug activity,and citizens are made aware of an investigation into public corruption and illegal drug activity in the town by an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Certifications of three of the town’s police officers are suspended by the agency tasked with governing the state’s law enforcement officials.

38-016. Withdrawal of Certification of Law Enforcement Officers. [SC ADC 38-016]

A. A law enforcement officer, certified pursuant to the provisions of R.38-007 and R.38-008, shall have his or her certification as a law enforcement officer withdrawn by the Department upon the occurrence of any one or more of the following events:

1. The officer is found to have falsified any application for certification and training based upon which the officer was admitted for training.

2. The officer is found to be ineligible for service as a law enforcement officer because of his or her failure to meet prerequisite qualifications for training and certification, as set by law, even though such ineligibility is not discovered until after the officer's initial certification.

3. The officer is convicted of a criminal offense under the law of any jurisdiction which would, by the laws of this State, disqualify the officer from obtainment of certification as provided for in R.38-007 and R.38-008.

4. Evidence satisfactory to the Department that the officer has engaged in misconduct. For purposes of this section, misconduct means:

a. Conviction, plea of guilty, plea of no contest or admission of guilt (regardless of withheld adjudication) to a felony, a crime punishable by a sentence of more than one year (regardless of the sentence actually imposed, if any), or a crime of moral turpitude;

b. Unlawful use of a controlled substance;

c. The repeated use of excessive force in dealing with the public and/or prisoners;

d. Dangerous and/or unsafe practices involving firearms, weapons, and/or vehicles which indicate either a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property;

e. Physical or psychological abuses of members of the public and/or prisoners;

f. Misrepresentation of employment-related information;

g. Dishonesty with respect to his/her employer;

h. Untruthfulness with respect to his/her employer.

i. Violations of criminal law resulting from administrative inquiries.

Provided however that in considering whether to withdraw certification based on misconduct, the Department may consider the seriousness, frequency and any mitigating circumstances surrounding the act or omission constituting or alleged to constitute misconduct.

B. The officer's certification expires due to the officer's failure to meet re-certification requirements as set out in R. 38-013.

The town’s newest police chief and assistant police chief are fired by the city administrator after learning the officers were suspended pursuant to information provided by the police chief.

38-017. Reporting of Events Requiring Withdrawal of Certification. [SC ADC 38-017]

A. It shall be the responsibility of the sheriff or the chief executive officer of every law enforcement agency or department within the State to report to the Department the occurrence of any event, or series of events, set forth in R.38-016 which requires the withdrawal of certification of a law enforcement officer who is currently or was last employed by his or her agency.

B. The report shall be made within fifteen days of the final agency or department action resulting from the internal investigation conducted by the agency or department, and shall be on a form prescribed by the Department.

C. A willful failure to report information shall subject the violator to a civil penalty as provided by the Department.

D. Only events which are determined as founded by the department or agency shall be reported as provided herein above.

The three police officers are being allowed to maintain their positions
in spite of lack of certification.

SECTION 23-6-430. Certification as "qualified" a prerequisite for law enforcement officers; exceptions; qualification under equivalent programs in other states. [SC ST SEC 23-6-430]

No law enforcement officer employed or appointed on or after July 1, 1989, by any public law enforcement agency in this State is authorized to enforce the laws or ordinances of this State or any political subdivision thereof unless he has been certified as qualified by the Department of Public Safety...

The former police chief issues a public statement that enumerates allegations of corruption and illegal activity.

The wait for justice and truth has been long for the citizens of the sleepy little town.

One can only hope the wait has not been in vain.


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