Law enforcement officers who break the law crop up in departments big and small across Texas, reports the Dallas Morning News. At least 110 licensed Texas officers, from jailers to police chiefs, have spent time behind bars – for offenses ranging from theft to sexual assault, on and off the job. More than twice that many have been convicted, received deferred adjudication. or been placed on probation for felony charges.
That’s a tiny fraction of the more than 83,000 active licensed peace officers in the state. When an officer goes to prison, the experience is shattering. And if he crosses the line on duty, he generally is more reviled than if he had broken the law as a civilian. The crime sends shock waves through his life, department and community. Nationwide, more than 365 police officers have been convicted of public corruption in the last two years, says the FBI. Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle has aggressively rooted out problem officers in recent months. The FBI is making public corruption a priority. About half of the FBI’s public corruption investigations involve law enforcement officers. “It’s not a matter of how many cops are corrupt; it’s a matter of how many citizens we hurt,” says Dr. Sam Souryal, professor of criminal justice and ethics at Sam Houston State University. Several convicted officers agreed to talk to the Morning News about their cases. Said one: “I had a strong sense of right and wrong. [But] the lines become gray when you’re fighting a war. That’s what it is – drug war.”