Spotlight on police wrongdoing underscores some glaring details

Police officers in Texas and across the country are tasked with the key role of promoting social order, protecting the public against crime and enforcing enacted laws.

That is an important job, and recurrent research reveals that communities nationally largely endorse the work that their law enforcement agencies do. There is little disagreement with the notion that most police officers attend to their duties conscientiously and with due regard for legalities.

That predominant public sentiment comes with a caveat, though, which is the acknowledgment based on ample empirical evidence that select numbers of bad cops intermingle with their more upstanding counterparts.

A voluminous study into police misconduct in the United States over the past decade is currently commanding considerable high-profile attention. Its results issue from a year-plus investigative effort conducted by a national reporting team and researchers from an organization promoting public accountability.

The findings are certainly notable. In fact, we suspect that some readers of our criminal defense blogs will find them stunning and even flatly alarming.

Here’s one central takeaway based on the close scrutiny of “tens of thousands of internal investigations, lawsuit settlements and secret separation deals:” More than 30,000 cops in 44 states have been banned from their profession within the past 10 years.

That is an eye-opening number, to be sure, and much other culled evidence underscores similarly revealing information. An estimated 85,000 police officers nationally have been targeted or disciplined in investigatory probes over that same period. Cases routinely deal with allegations of excessive force, sexual misconduct and evidence tampering. Reportedly, close to 2,500 officers “have been investigated on 10 or more [misconduct] charges.”

The law enforcement realm is vitally important for good order and security in the United States. Vetted information relevant to police behavior and made publicly accessible can be of paramount importance for improving performance.

Importantly too, as noted by one former officer now teaching law, it can “keep good cops employed and bad cops unemployed.”