Today’s Investigative Special Report – November 19, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” Should Law Enforcement Officers Be Able To Shade The Truth Under Any Circumstances

English: Official photo of David Petraeus, Dir...
English: Official photo of David Petraeus, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
Forensic Expert – Senior Author
With the recent resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus and his extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, many questions have been raised about Petraeus’s integrity and his ability to tell the truth. Many issues have yet to be addressed and currently the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a multitude of allegations in this convoluted situation involving Petraeus, Broadwell, and many others, including politicians who may have played a part in the cover-up of this situation and the killing of four dead Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
The basic law enforcement officer who works in the operational division to those who are responsible in managing a law enforcement agency would be suspended or terminated under the same conditions which Petraeus finds himself in. The higher the rank an officer is on the hierarchical ladder the less likely he would be terminated because their positions are appointed, like Petraeus who is appointed by the President of the United States. However, Petraeus was in charge of the organization which has agents worldwide and these agents deal with some of the most sensitive investigations, not to mention some of them are in undercover operations and if their identity was known it could cost them their life.  Further, law enforcement at the CIA level deal with documents and information which have to be classified, confidential, and protected at all costs.
In reviewing the Petraeus situation law enforcement officers may have the attitude that having an extramarital affair is not something which is that serious and what they do off-duty in their personal lives should not be the concern of the law enforcement officials they work for. However, being a law enforcement officer has some laws which they must abide by at all times. In the State of Washington law enforcement officers are considered to be on-duty 24/7. Therefore, their behavior and conduct under the law will come under the scrutiny of the agency where they are employed if they make bad choices.
Most professions do not have this on-duty all the time because their responsibilities generally do not include protecting citizens in their community from individuals who either want to harm another citizen or commit a crime in their presence which requires immediate law enforcement action. The pros and cons, should an officer who is off-duty become involved in a matter which occurs in front of them, is a constant issue between law enforcement management and officers.
There are many scenarios where you could ask the question “what if” a law enforcement officer would have been present. The recent shooting at the Century Movie Theater, by James Eagan Holmes in Aurora, Colorado and the Ft. Hood shooting, by U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, outside Killeen, Texas may have made a difference if a law enforcement officer who was off-duty would have been present, carrying his service weapon and was able to take out the two shooters.
English: Major Nidal Malik Hasan, Fort Hood sh...
English: Major Nidal Malik Hasan, Fort Hood shooter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The difference between having an extramarital affair and being involved in a possible shooting situation speaks for itself. However, they do have one thing in common which is in both scenarios they are law enforcement officers. Further, they work under a set of rules and regulations, protocols, procedures, and law which doesn’t change who they are under the two above situations.
In the Bible a sin is a sin, and for the most part there isn’t much difference between other sins? The same should hold true when it comes to telling the truth and the officers integrity has to be abided by at all times, under any and all circumstances. There cannot be any shading of the truth and the actions of the officer, or his integrity called into question. His actions are attached to the other officers he works with and the law enforcement agency and community as a whole.
The question about should a law enforcement officer be able to shade the truth should be answered with a resounding “NO.” Under no circumstances should an officer shade the truth to accomplish or justify an arrest or any situation where his conduct is called into question. The television show of the early 70s, “Baretta” which was about an undercover law enforcement officer who was played by Robert Blake. Every episode began with the song, which contained the motto, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time" sung by Sammy Davis, Jr. is apropos.
Seriously, shading the truth brings about the visualization where a law enforcement officer pulls over a young lady late at night who has been drinking and they agree that she will agree to have sex with him instead of arresting her. These types of situations happen too frequently and when the officer is confronted by his supervisor once the complaint is lodged that the young women he forced to have sex with is now complaining that the situation was not consensual. The issue is not whether it was consensual or not, but that he forced another person to have sex with him, a person with authority over her, and his actions were criminal in nature; misconduct of an officer and possibly rape. Still some officers in this situation don’t see that their conduct was not inappropriate or criminal. They intentionally shade the truth to avoid termination and the filing of criminal charges.
There are law enforcement agencies which have moral clauses for their officers to abide by. The problem with extramarital affairs is some law enforcement officers do not believe there is anything wrong with the development and being in a sexual relationship. According to author Anne Bercht, “My Husband’s Affair Became The Best Thing That Happened To Me” states the following:
So you feel suspicious that your spouse may be having an extramarital affair, and now you find yourself wondering 'what are the signs of infidelity?' Statistically more than 50% of marriages end in divorce, and many more than that have to deal with the devastation and after math of marital infidelity. We surveyed a group of people who had been cheated on asking them to share what were the signs of infidelity in their relationships. In this article we share the results of that survey combined with other research. 70% of those surveyed professed a high level of morality in their belief systems, and a high level of marital fulfillment and satisfaction. Affairs are not solely a problem of an unfortunate few with 'bad' marriages. Extramarital affairs happen to good people in good marriages too. Would you be able to recognize the signs of infidelity in your own marriage?
To date Holly Petraeus has stood by her husband. It may be for legitimate support or it may be a façade until his extramarital affair is lost in the media by another scandal. Today’s news is already obsolete and society has a tendency to be involved for the first week and then they move onto other serious news worthy issues which may have affected them or a politician, movie star, and etc.
Commander Jeff Noble, Irvine City Police Department, Irvine, California in an article he authored for The Police Chief, October, 2003, states:
Law enforcement managers should be able to recognize deceitful conduct at either end of the scale and deal with the conduct appropriately. The issues that fall somewhere in the middle of the continuum are obviously much more difficult. The issue is not whether these middle ground deceptions are acceptable; they clearly are not. Any intentional deceptive conduct that is not justified or excusable is inappropriate. The issue for police managers is whether they have management discretion and whether there is any punishment available to them other than termination. The answer is that police chiefs have discretion available to them and that not every act of intentional deception may be worthy of termination. But management must be warned that with their discretion comes a duty to punish the inappropriate behavior and the willingness to deal with the officer's action for years in the future. In life, there are often second chances, and sometimes even more. In law enforcement, there are no second chances when it comes to the integrity of our officers and us. In law enforcement, malicious deceptive conduct is untenable and cannot be tolerated at any level in the organization.
Commander Noble was intellectually and competently ahead of his time in the law enforcement community. He hits a home run in the article he authored about ‘police officer truthfulness.’ His article was written a decade ago and this past week Americans are dealing with the same concerns he raised at the time.
Law enforcement officers have a difficult time in admitting that they may have incorrectly perceived a situation after they had some time to think about what they saw and then how they reacted to it. Being married and having a sexual relationship outside of the marriage may be viewed by some as just one of those things that happen. Others, such as Christians and other religions believe it is spiritually a sin, and not acceptable in God’s eyes. Whatever position an individual decides to choose, the exception to the rule of how you view the sexual activity will be predicated on the profession which may dictate how you behave in and outside your job.
As previously discussed above, in the law enforcement profession the conduct of the officer is a 24 hour role and responsibility. Law enforcement officers lose their freedom to choose what their behavior will or won’t be as the law enforcement community dictates the code of honor, truthfulness, integrity, image, decisions, and etc. A young individual who becomes an officer knows what they will be allowed to do and not to do as an officer. It should be no surprise to them that their word has to always ring true and any shading of that truth is inappropriate, unacceptable, and potentially criminal.
In the Petraeus matter he made the choice to behave in such a manner that it caused him to resign from his position as the top spy in the world, the Director of the CIA. It is the desire of those who are citizens of the United States that those who are in the highest law enforcement positions must and will behave above the bar at all times in public and most importantly in private. Pastor Bill Hybels wrote a book called, “Who You Are When No One’s Looking: Choosing Consistency, Resisting Compromise” and in this book he discusses character, courage, discipline, vision, endurance, and etc.
There is no character or discipline present when violating the oath of their position as a law enforcement officer. Further, there should be no judging of those individuals who cross the line and boundaries until all the facts are in. It is difficult to stand on the side lines and try to find excuses for the Petraeus and Broadwell’s who break the covenants of marriage. However, when people know something is wrong, it is important they stand up for their beliefs and opinions and should be able to call it as they see it. When law enforcement officials and officers cheat the system by lying and being deceitful it not only hurts them, but the position of authority that every officer worked hard to become. Disgracing the law enforcement profession is wrong when someone puts their self-interest in front of the community they are responsible to protect and serve. People like Petraeus need to be held accountable as their actions have a ripple affect which may bring harm to his subordinates and possibly to the safety of the United States. It is irrelevant that he was a great soldier because his actions obviously speak louder than his common sense he used in this situation.
The Petraeus situation is good for the United States of America as it may be an indication of how far Americans have lost their way and made the same mistakes or are in the process of making the same mistakes.  In the final analysis and the evaluation of Petraeus and Broadwell people should find themselves evaluating and examining if they could possibly become entangled into such a convoluted mess. If there is any question then take the time to step back and reevaluate what you are doing and potentially how many people will be hurt by your actions.
No one is above the law no matter what profession they choose to dedicate their life to. When accepting responsibility to protect and serve those who work under them at all times and situations they must consider what is best for everyone involved. It is all about using common sense and making reasonable, logical, and intelligent decisions.

Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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