Letter: Police treatment of officer was unfair — part 1
February 17, 2012
Editor's note: Robin Willis submitted the letter below. It exceeded the newspaper's 500-word limit on letters to the editor, so it's being published in two parts, the second of which will appear in the Saturday Morning Press.
To the editor:
I've found myself questioning the Craig Police Department a number of times over the past few years.
Most recently, the police chief made not only the local newspaper but also news outside our area. What has really grabbed my attention, though, is the outcome of the situations.
First, we have an officer who was arrested for domestic violence and made the paper the morning after he was detained before any court appearances. Charges were dismissed after new information came to light. I don't condone any acts of domestic violence — there isn't an excuse for it.
What I find interesting, though, is the officer was then fired from his job because the whole thing reflected badly upon the department.
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Now, let's jump to the most recent story involving the Craig Police Department.
The police chief left a loaded firearm in a public restroom at the Moffat County Public Safety Center. The story didn't air until a week after the event occurred, after many people inside the safety center and out were put in danger by this careless act.
To me, it seems as though they thought it would be quietly swept under the rug. In that article, it states the chief apologized to everyone in the building. To my understanding, the apology wasn't offered until after the article was in the paper and it was an email apology.
Thank goodness for that honest inmate who returned the firearm instead of using it to get out of jail and also that it was an adult who found it and not a child.
I took the liberty of finding the police department's policies on discipline at http://www.craigpolice.org/general_orders.htm, where anyone can find them. There seem to be three categories of offenses.
Category I offenses are misdemeanors of behavior that require correction in the interest of maintaining a productive and well managed department that serves the public's needs. These normally would result in informal measures such as counseling.
Category II offenses include more severe acts and misbehavior. Category II offenses normally result, on the first instance, in issuance of a written reprimand. Category II offenses include acts of such severity as to merit suspension or dismissal at a single occurrence.
If you look at the examples of offenses, you'll see the officer who was arrested, if he would have been charged, would fall under Category III, specifically example F: conduct unbecoming an officer.
Conduct unbecoming shall include that which brings the department into disrepute or reflects discredit upon the employee as a member of the department, or that which impairs the operation or efficiency of the department or employee.
As well as example G: acts of physical violence or fighting (except official enforcement actions). Since he was dismissed of those charges, he shouldn't fall under any.