Police chief responds to report on criminal cops

November 13, 2019

Opinion by Chief Ronald Lawrence, California Police Chief Association president

As police chiefs, it is our sworn responsibility to protect the public, which includes holding our own officers accountable for their conduct.

There are few responsibilities police chiefs take as serious as addressing officer misconduct and is one of the reasons the California Police Chief Association (CPCA) supported SB 1421, which allowed for the release of these files. Despite the burden created by SB 1421, CPCA felt it in the best interest of the public to allow the information published by these
newspapers today to be available.

However, the report released by this news group sensationalizes certain
aspects and specific instances with a mountain of data, while failing to mention critical nuances that help paint a complete picture and account for our laws and due process rightfully afforded to each officer.

First, the report shows, as we anticipated it would, that only a very small portion of officers commit crimes. The report cites 630 cases in the last decade; with almost 80,000 current officers in California – and
when factoring in the vast number of new recruits during that decade – this represents an extremely tiny fraction of the men and women who protect our streets every day, no more than 0.0079 percent.

This report also shows our chiefs hold officers accountable, with 80 percent of these reported cases resulting in the officer being fired.

However, accountability does not mean we refuse every officer an opportunity for redemption, and statistics cannot measure the facts of each case. Some cases warrant permanent dismissal – which our laws and policies already dictate, and we enforce on a consistent basis – while other instances may warrant lessor discipline than termination.

Our criminal justice system, for both the public and peace officers, must offer due process as well as pathways for an individual to accept accountability and correct their mistakes. If an officer’s actions were for less than termination causes, there are means to still hold them accountable and ensure the behavior changes.

For those who are deserving and willing to embrace accountability and retraining, there must be a way to retain experienced, well-trained officers in an environment that is already difficult to recruit new hires.

Finally, due process in all employment cases is an important element, which often includes arbitrators and legal representatives, and that must be a part of this discussion. These decisions are always complex and require depth in understanding how our laws resulted in each specific outcome.

It is unfortunate that authors of this article failed to mention any of the comments CPCA directly offered to those who conducted the research behind this report, as the end result fails to capture the critical nuances outlined above.

Regardless, as has always been our position in the past, CPCA is poised and ready to address any actual issues that may present themselves through the disclosure of this information. At the same time, we stand firmly against any narrative that attempts to destructively paint our profession with one broad brush or take these cases out of context.

Police work is an incredibly difficult job. We need good peace officers to protect our society from those who would do our communities harm, and we must support our law enforcement professionals in an incredibly dangerous and complex profession.


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Noodly Appendages

Dear Mister Lawrence,

To paraphrase Mark Twain:

It is better to be thought of as an idiot, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.


DocT

what a crock of used food!


“”must support our law enforcement professionals in an incredibly dangerous and complex profession.””


No….they are supposed to support us. You’ve got it backwards.


also, being a cop isn’t at all dangerous when compared to being a roofer, fisherman, rancher, construction worker….or even a janitor. That’s a lie, chief. I hold you in contempt for thinking we’re that stupid. You’re a liar.


As far as complex….perhaps. But many other professions are also “complex.” So what?


The bottom line is that cops are shown to drink more, beat their wives and girlfriends more, get divorced more, and have more violent incidents than the general public whom they fleece.


Chief, you’re a giant part of the problem. Just know that we, the people do not appreciate you, do not worship you and wish you weren’t around to mess our lives up and pad your already fat pensions and salary.


Gordo

”The bottom line is that cops are shown to drink more, beat their wives and girlfriends more, get divorced more, and have more violent incidents than the general public whom they fleece.“


Well I wonder why that is? Is it that the police purposely hire thugs and drunks or is it that years of dealing with people like you drives them over the edge.


Any thoughts on that subject Doc?


AmericaTheFree

So, I guess with your reasoning that these cops that are driven “over the edge” by folks like Doc should be exempt from the law? And should continue their job even though they’re “over the edge”? You would want “over the edge” cops responding to your home?

Your type of reasoning that shifts the blame onto the citizenry for what cops do, best exemplifies why this kind of BS continues. You wouldn’t use that reasoning on other criminals would you, so why would you on criminal cops? This is exactly why they’re a protected class of people. Good job!


DocT

HI Gordo, despite your semi-mocking tone I’ll answer as if you were sincere.


The reason(s) cops are more prone to domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and divorce than the serf’s they pester and fleece are:


1. The very nature of modern law enFORCEment is minding other people’s business with the intent to fine or arrest most of them for doing things that violate a statute but harm no one. After a hard day writing speeding tickets and arresting people with bodily fluids that register certain numbers……knowing full well that their own bodily fluids will also register bad numbers produces are moral dilemma….which can be partially mitigated with drugs and alcohol. This is a well-known phenomenon.


2. Because the lure of police work is two-fold: great pay, early retirement and free time on the one hand……mixed with the cocktail of knowing that once I have the badge I can break the law with impunity…..a classic hypocrite…..only sociopaths are attracted to such “work.” Most cops exhibit classic sociopathic behavior.


3. Another “benefit” to police work comes into play for those who love and crave violence. The war wasn’t enough for these people….they want more. So after killing people in Afghanistan or Iraq they desire to use their skills in America. The militarization of police, both in terms of equipment and personnel attracts people who view violence as a “first resort” and they enjoy it!


So, yes….the police purposely hire thugs and liars. Absolutely. Decent people don’t want to do those things to other people.


As for me, I’ve never been arrested for anything and I do not deal with cops at all. I break no laws and when I see a cop I purposely try to avoid them. My chances of getting shot or arrested go way down when they can’t see, hear, smell or feel my presence.


Last Individual

Agree 100% DocT.


Gordo

Good for you Doc; stay low… cops don’t tend to look in the gutter very often.


Oneohfirst

Hey, Chief, you might want to take an elementary math course before you calculate percentages.


Last Individual

You’re right Oneohfirst. Lawrence’s conclusion should be that approaching 1% of cops are criminals. Actually its 1 in every 126 cops. The SLO Police website says they have 59 “sworn” cops. This means that even using Lawrence’s definition of a criminal cop, there is approximately a 50-50 chance that there is one criminal cop on the payroll at SLOPD. Now it’s my opinion from recent events that it is actually much higher than that, so Lawerence’s definition of a criminal cop is far too exclusive. Also, he doesn’t address the numbers as they relate to police chiefs who are making the decisions about what to do with the other criminal cops. I wonder how many police chiefs in his police chief union are covering up for criminal cops in their department or are criminals themselves (as it appears to be in the case of SLOPD).


AmericaTheFree

I have another question for you Chief… Do any LEO’s that you know that have been convicted of crimes or have been proven liars as a witness that are still on the job reside on the Brady List? How ’bout any of the above mentioned LEO’s?


AmericaTheFree

What’s the Brady List? How is it relevant to this “opinion? Here’s a link so you can read up on it and see a very recent example of the absolute bullshit one runs into when requesting a current copy of that list from San Luis Obispo’s DA’s office. The DA and the cops are one in the same, both honor that thin blue line thick with obstruction and cemented with absolutely no regard for the law!

https://www.muckrock.com/foi/san-luis-obispo-county-3063/brady-list-san-luis-obispo-county-76596/


AmericaTheFree

If convicted your cops are criminals, right? Why is it you provide an avenue of redemption for them but for no other convicted criminal? Why are your convicted criminals given the benefit of the doubt when you won’t give the same to other criminals? Why is remorse such a powerful persuasive argument for leniency with your convict criminals and not with others? Why are your convicted criminals patrolling our streets any better than those outside of your protected class status just walking the streets?

You don’t get it, do ya Chief? Your words are fuckin’ hollow, hollow as hell! As long as any cop convicted of any crime patrols any streets your words are hollow! Any cop convicted of any crime losses the trust of the people and that should be the overriding factor in their immediate dismissal. We are your bosses, we pay your inflated salaries and ridiculous retirement benefits, we should have a say so in how you run our police departments and how our employees are disciplined when they wrong us!

Shit, a bunch of blah, blah, blah! Even a McDonalds employee lose his or her job over a stealin’ a french-fry but a cop can be convicted of drunk drivin’ and be patrolling the streets the next frickin’ day? Yea, and we’re suppose to believe your BS?!!!


Ted R

Hey Chief, while we have you on the line; how do you feel about the DA protecting a county supervisor (Hill) from prosecution for criminal behavior? Or how about DA Dow protecting Bill Worrell and Charles Tenborg from prosecution of multiple felony’s?


Smith

Political rhetoric. You should be ashamed of yourself Lawrence. You are a politician, not a cop. Cops should be held to a higher standard than citizens. And dirty cops should be made an example of, not protected, to assure citezen safety. You want to chastise the news agency for reporting the news, what do you have to say about the SLO Chief leaving her weapon in a public toilet? Not a peep? Hush hush?


nowayray

Imagine my surprise that the high mucky muck of police in California would defend the criminal behavior of their officers. We all know how it is, please Chief Lawrence; no response would have been better than this whitewash job of accusing the reporters.


UnReasoned

Well, what would you have said?


Stunned

How is this statement relevant? “and when factoring in the vast number of new recruits during that decade……”. Are we to expect bad behavior by newly sworn officers at a greater rate than the seasoned ones? I think not. Poor newbies always being the scapegoat!