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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ethics of Being a Cop

 “When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.”

– Ayn Rand

This was the quote that led a story by writer Kelly James October 30th, 2011  concerning local corruption mixing political posts, the judicial system, and the police department in Quartzite, Arizona, and a group known as the Quartzite 10 who decided to stand up to the corruption.  Read the whole story, but here are some basics:

Proper ethics dictate that government employees avoid political involvement while on duty and policy of the Quartzsite, AZ PD reflects the same.

“Internally we’ve been battling with the chief for quite some time” Ponce explains. “We’re not supposed to get involved in politics in any way”.

Unfortunately, this didn’t stop Police Chief Jeff Gilbert from using his officers to target his political enemies. He claimed it was their responsibility because such people were trying to destroy the town.

Ponce and his officers were explicitly ordered to harass these particular individuals and either cite or arrest them for any and all possible infractions, but much to Gilbert’s dissatisfaction, they refused.

“I feel like I have that obligation…and the day I retire I want to be proud of my service.”

And what a shame it is when the good are punished for being the good. Sgt. Ponce and the Quartzsite 10 are now fighting not only corruption but suspension and possible termination from their positions.

“Look where we’re at. We decided we were going to do this because it’s the right thing, not because we wanted anything… as you know, our careers are on the line, and that’s the sad part. But we decided that we have to do this because it is the right thing to do. Not only is Jennifer affected, but the funny thing is the way (the police chief) treats the citizens is exactly the way he treats us, and that’s not right. You can’t treat people that way. We wanted everyone to know that, hey, he’s doing the same thing to us; we aren’t going to stand for it and neither should you.”

“In an advanced case of moral agnosticism, everyone from the governor to the attorney general are acting as though it is not their place to intercede. Perhaps they think if they ignore it, it will simply cease to exist.”

The writer goes on to explain some of the details about local people, politics, the fights going on between good law-abiding people, and police officers on the job who seem to be called in by their chief and local political leaders to harass and commit illegal acts against others who are interfering with their plans to make more money.

The officer talked about one sergeant receiving orders from the City Council to harass opponents, and how another sergeant in the town “so happens to be married to the town magistrate who for all intents and purposes serves as town judge, even trying misdemeanor and litigation cases with no actual background in law.”  The writer goes on to say, “The corruption in Quartzsite is seemingly endless with completely unethical individuals playing positions of power like musical chairs.”  But the officer she is talking with is resolved and tells her:

“I’m not going to play these games, I’m out here trying to make a difference. I’m not going to order my officers to do things that I don’t believe are constitutional or lawful….This guy [the police chief] is tarnishing my honor and the entire reason I became a cop”

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