Law enforcement officers accused of sexual misconduct have jumped from job to job and sometimes faced fresh allegations that include raping women because of a tattered network of laws and lax screening that allowed them to stay on the beat, reports the Associated Press. An AP investigation into sex abuse by cops, jail guards, deputies and other state law enforcement officials found a broken system for policing bad officers, with significant flaws in how agencies deal with those suspected of sexual misconduct and glaring warning signs that go unreported or are overlooked.
About 1,000 officers in six years lost licenses because of sex crimes that included rape, or sexual misconduct. That number fails to reflect the breadth of the problem because it measures only officers who faced an official process called decertification, and not all states have such a system or provided records. In states that do revoke law enforcement licenses, the process can take years, enabling problem officers to find other jobs. While there is a national index of decertified officers, contributing to it is voluntary and experts say the database, which is not open to the public, is missing thousands of names. Some officers are permitted to quit quietly and never face decertification. Others are able to keep working because departments may not be required to report misdeeds to a state police standards commission, or they neglect to. Agencies may not check references when hiring, or fail to share past problems with new employers.