Today’s Investigative Special Report – December 9, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “How Deep Is The Alcohol, Drug, And Behavioral Problems In Professional Sports And What Are The Roles And Responsibilities Of Law Enforcement With Professional Athletes

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
Forensic Expert – Senior Author
It was uncommon years ago to ever hear about a professional athlete being arrested for committing a crime, or being suspended by their team or professional organization for using some type of illegal drugs, criminal behavior, unlawfully possessing even the misuse of a firearm, and domestic violence.
English: Camp Eggers, AF - National Football L...
English: Camp Eggers, AF - National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell on July 10 at Camp Eggers, Afghanistan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just because there were no arrests or publicity of the athlete acting out in some manner years ago, the appearance that everything was alright should not have been an indicator that there were no problems occurring behind the scenes.
Law enforcement played a significant role in the 60’s through the 90’s in protecting their local 
athletes. Instead of placing the athlete under arrest, telephone calls were made and the professional athlete was dealt with in a manner that kept his conduct hidden from the public’s eye.
Then a new type of law enforcement officer came into the profession, and the professional athletes were no longer held in such high esteem.  Law enforcement officers no longer found ways to hide the illegal behavior of the athlete. Instead officers began issuing traffic tickets, arresting the athlete for driving under the influence, assault, domestic violence, drugs, murder, and etc.
In the past some of these crimes could have been handled by making a telephone and having one of the athletes team managers come to the alleged crime scene and take custody of the athlete.
The media became interested in making an athlete’s life public, by following them wherever they go, interviewing people who know them, would be at the steps of the courthouse in dealing with the criminal justice system, follow the criminal charges, and etc.  The “microscope media mentality” has been underway for some years now, where in the past media stories were put on hold and hidden before the reputation of the athlete was brought to light by an article.
The new social networks media has brought about an instantaneous reporting manner in which the majority of arrests are made known so quickly that millions of individuals and organizations break the story before the athlete is released from custody.
U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander, U...
U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander, U.S. Central Command, poses for a photo with NFL Hall of Famers Lynn Swann, Roger Craig, John Elway, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during Super Bowl XLIII, Feb. 1, 2009, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The past two weeks the NFL has had to deal with two deaths which have brought concern from many in law enforcement, social network media outlets, professional athletes and organizations, and Commissioner Roger Goodell that there are major problems occurring in too many athletes’ lives. Many of these problems have led many people to ask the question about what is Goodell and law enforcement doing to curtail or stop these incidences from occurring. Is law enforcement somewhere Goodell could turn to and request assistance or does Goodell want to remain doing the same; which has proven to be useless?
Many questions are being raised about the social and domestic behavior of professional athletes. In the two deaths the social network media outlets have indicated that law enforcement believe that alcohol and drugs were involved in the two deaths.
Both men who died were 25 years old and had just begun their professional careers. It seems that money has become the opportunity for professional athletes to expend their free time drinking and drugging, which has led to a multitude of illicit and illegal behavioral incidences, assaults and deaths.
Law enforcement can be reactive to the behavior and crimes that professional athletes commit, but it seems that there is a communication problem between the inner circle of the professional athlete organizations and the information they aren’t sharing with the local, county, and state law enforcement agencies.
It seems reasonable and logical if the professional athlete organizations are dealing with complaints, becoming aware of behavioral problems which need to be investigated, drug testing, firearm problems, and other behavior the organization is concerned about wouldn’t they want to share this information with law enforcement and request their assistance?
Generally, if professional athletes are buying illegal narcotics from a local dealer, it is probable, logical, and reasonable that their teammates are buying from the same drug dealers. Where there is money and youth, there will be individuals such as drug dealers and financial brokers who want the athlete’s money.
Too often the athlete finds themselves in a major rut and can’t find a way out. If the professional organizations would work hand in hand with law enforcement to stop the selling of illegal narcotics and firearms this would be a proactive and positive step. Addictive behavior is common amongst professional athletes because they are always trying to find a way to enhance their performance.
Innovative And Logical
Dealing with professional athletes should and needs to be considered specialized investigations which require a specialized unit to be formed by law enforcement to deal with the problem inside the local professional teams. It makes no sense that law enforcement should be kept out of the inner circle and then be placed in the position of having to clean up the tragedies which seem to be a weekly occurrence.
Behavioral Clauses
The professional organizations should require behavioral and moral clauses, curfew requirements and places where the athlete can and can’t associate. Too often an athlete will leave practice and head to a social outlet where the mainstay of individuals at the social club, are drug users and alcohol power drinkers. Athletes become what their environment is and after being exposed to illicit behavior in that environment sooner or later the athlete will be a part of that behavior.
Instead of calling for a taxi to drive them home they find their way to their vehicles and attempt to drive home. If this is a constant behavior then sooner or later they will eventually connect with law enforcement because of behavioral issues such as driving under the influence.
Unrealistic And Unconstitutional
It seems unrealistic and unconstitutional that a professional organization could require or restrict their athlete’s behavior. However, if the death of athletes is a weekly problem then someone needs to step up to the plate and say enough is enough. The answers to the many questions, which have been raised during this NFL season, should make people shudder and wonder what are these athletes thinking.  At the present time too many athletes are having anti-social conduct disorders, drug and alcohol issues, and violence of all kinds, firearms problems, and so forth.
The Future
The secrets of the inner circle of professional team’s athletes who are engaged in illicit and criminal behavior need this information to be shared with law enforcement. In fact it should be a mandatory reporting policy and procedure. There is no confidential requirement which prevents the teams from sharing their concerns and information with law enforcement.
 In order for the professional local teams and organizations inner circle to include law enforcement in their personnel, behavioral, and criminal problems, this will require law enforcement to develop a new, creative, and innovative specialized law enforcement e.g. “Professional Criminal Investigative Athlete Unit.” This criminal investigation unit can be the funnel of information to other specialized units such as drug and vice units. This unit would be responsible for major crimes where athletes are becoming or have been involved in.
Something has to be done or the problems facing these professional athletes will continue to be a social media event. Further bystanders who are innocent who become inadvertently involved may cost them their lives.
The status of the professional athlete no longer allows them to ‘get a free pass’ when they commit a crime. No longer will the social network media individuals and organizations hold or hide a story because of who the athlete is. The belief that just because the individual is an athlete they should be treated differently than others will no longer give them the right to violate local, county, and state laws.
There needs to be an attitude that if the athlete does not abide by the organizations individual athletes contract, regulations, rules, or violate the professional athlete’s organizational conduct guidelines and rules, drug and alcohol restrictions, behavioral and other standards, the athlete will be held accountable and responsible. Suspension or fines from their team and the league office have to be significant to make others change their behavior.
If the punishment continues to be a slap on the hand professional athlete’s illicit and criminally illegal behaviors will not change. Take away their money and toys and their ability to purchase illegal drugs and firearms, vehicles, and this will deter illicit and criminally illegal behavior.
Law enforcement officials can be the resource that these professional organizations have been looking for. They may not have all of the answers, but with all of the illicit and criminally illegal behavior that a minority of the players are committing may deter others from behaving in the same manner. The athlete’s behavioral problems are out of control in professional sports and unless changes are made the problem may cause certain sports to lose their audience. Without a fan base these professional teams can’t exist.
Professional sports franchise owners want to protect their investment i.e. their players and coaches, but at some point they need to put on their business hat and not their baby-sitting hat. If law enforcement was to become involved they may be able to identify just how serious of a problem some of the above mentioned behaviors are. What do these professional teams and league organizations have to lose? To date they apparently are not doing such a good job at controlling those individuals whose behavior obviously is known to team officials as well as the league management. It is time for a change and it is necessary to make positive and successful decisions to minimize the lives that are being lost.
Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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