Sex, Lies and Police Benefits

A recent report from Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell highlighted two incidents involving San Jose police officers having sex on the job. But Cordell was far less critical of the salacious activity and more concerned with the fact that officers lied to investigators about it.

Unless you’re a porn star, sex on the job is usually considered bad behavior during work hours. It is especially dangerous for people who could use authority to obtain sex. It puts the officer in a highly vulnerable position of being accused of coercion even if the sex is consensual—and one of the officers was accused of sexual assault.

It is also embarrassing when people can’t get police to investigate a burglary or petty theft—because they are understaffed—while some of these public servants are getting paid to have sex on the taxpayer dime. Discipline in these cases depends on circumstances. More than one individual has been fired for having sex with inmates at the jails, and others have been demoted for watching porn on their government computers.

Given the low morale in San Jose, it is understandable that these are not the benefits our officers would prefer to be discussing.

That said, Cordell was right to focus on police honesty. The joke in law school is that if you become a criminal attorney, you’ll find that all of your clients are guilty and all cops lie. Neither is true, but the perception is worth fighting and that is what Cordell attempted to address.

The public holds police officers in high esteem. They are expected to tell the truth, even when it is hard. More than sex on the job, great law enforcement agencies insist on integrity. More than one has opined that if an officer lies in an Internal Affairs investigation, regardless of the underlying facts, they will be dismissed.

It is a good rule and it sets a standard for all agencies in government. The San Jose City Council should insist on such a standard for their officers. Moreover, the police department should welcome and respect Cordell’s report. By embracing the substance and working out a fair process, they could get rid of the bad apples that cause public distrust.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.

15 Comments

  1. It would come as a surprise to most people familiar with such matters to learn that an officer was allowed to keep his job after having been proved to have lied to investigators, thus, two questions must be asked.

    1. If Ms. Cordell’s charges are correct, why were these two allowed to keep their jobs. For this the public would deserve an explanation from the police chief or city manager. Yet, to date we haven’t we got one.

    2. If Ms. Cordell’s charges are not correct, and investigators merely suspected the officers of lying, how can Ms. Cordell be allowed to keep her job? For this the public would deserve an answer from the mayor and city council.

    I would be amazed to learn that either the police chief or city manager would willingly expose themselves to the potential public backlash that would come from allowing an officer to keep his job after lying to investigators. Even in the most deserving of circumstances, pondered by the most decent of men, the filthy state of politics and journalism have rendered the requisite commitment and courage things of the past.

    What would surprise me not in the least would be to learn that, as a result of the investigation, there was an unproven assumption that these officers were less than candid when answering questions about conduct they knew violated the police manual, and that Ms. Cordell, consistent with the reckless, shoot-from-the-hip style common to race-agitators exempt from accountability, called it lying not because it was established, but because that’s the way she saw it.

    If my instincts are right I would think that either of the officers publicly-branded as liars would seek from Ms. Cordell and her employer a level of compensation for the damage she has done to their careers. By her actions and for her own gain, Ms. Cordell made known to the members of the police department the identities of these officers, and if she was wrong, there is only one way to right it.

  2. Actually the evidence is that police aren’t held accountable. There isn’t a line of work that I can think of where a crime can be considered a “confidential personnel matter”.

    http://paloaltoonline.com/news/2013/01/15/menlo-park-cop-caught-with-prostitute-keeps-job

    That’s probably why Cordell doesn’t care about the “salacious activity”, because no one else would. Do stories like the two Cordell brought up erode confidence in police? Absolutely, but don’t blame the messenger.

  3. Let me ask you, do you not prostitute yourself out when you represent a candidate for a political office? After all you accept a very good fee. Do you not give a sometimes misleading information (legal) about a candidate and bash his rival when it comes to trivial or an honest mistake. After all you do what you are paid for to bring up trash just like Cordell did to save her job. Seems to me you do the same thing when if comes to ethics. Lets bend the rules and some times cross the line. But you may say I did not commit a crime? After all are you are getting paid very well to do the same thing?

    Shame on both of you.

  4. *laugh* I love when you’re ironic, Rich. You are being ironic, right? Because you can’t possibly be serious with this bit of hypocrisy you’re pouring out here. You really expect a higher standard? Or just a standard that gets you and yours what you want?

    “Unless you’re a porn star, sex on the job is usually considered bad behavior during work hours. It is especially dangerous for people who could use authority to obtain sex.”

    Tell that to a certain sheriff’s Captain… aka around the office as Captain “Have Toys, Will Travel” Seems some lead law enforcement officials in the county have no problem with some of her personnel having sex on the job. I bet that captain’s tax payer funded dodge charger has seen more action than the all the rattletrap patrol cars with semi-functioning equipment the deputies drive have seen — and the Sheriff knows it.

    “The public holds police officers in high esteem. They are expected to tell the truth, even when it is hard. More than sex on the job, great law enforcement agencies insist on integrity. ”

    Is that why our sheriff has promoted liars and has even kept brady cops on staff — promoting one all the way up to assistant sheriff? http://caseythomas.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/sheriff-laurie-smiths-idea-of-forward-thinking-leadership/

    What about the captain… who wasn’t a captain, but is now.. magically promoted after destroying evidence through sheer stupidity and negligence and trying to hide what he did? Where’s the integrity and truth in promoting someone shortly after costing a murder victim almost any potential of justice… ever.

    You try to shame the SJPD even while you campaign for a person who has hidden, protected and promoted proven liars calling them the “best candidate” to hold the office of the Sheriff?

    You’re a funny man, Rich. Downright hysterical. I would be laughing to the point of breathlessness, if your incumbent hasn’t had such an incredibly negative impact on the personnel of her office and the victims they are responsible for bringing justice too.

    They really should have someone else write this piece. Anyone else on the planet would have been taken more seriously than you on this subject.

      • You’re right, she doesn’t want to make this an issue. Because if she does, 15 people stand up and tell their stories about illegal IAs, Laurie’s Star Chamber when IA’s don’t go her way, and violations of POBAR rights, Laurie’s reign will be over. Oh, wait, I’m guessing it’s pretty close to over already from the reactions people walking for Jensen are seeing. People in the office are tired of “fear and intimidation”; people in the community are tired of botched investigations. If discipline was second to none in Laurie’s office several of her captains would not be sitting where they are today.

        http://caseythomas.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/its-our-voice-well-keep-it-thank-you/
        She can’t punish us any longer. We refuse to be afraid.

  5. Ok, the more I read your post the more ridiculous it is, for example:

    “It is also embarrassing when people can’t get police to investigate a burglary or petty theft—because they are understaffed—while some of these public servants are getting paid to have sex on the taxpayer dime.”

    Please NAME all these officers and how many, lets say the last 10 year and how were found guilty?. Good Luck. Nice trying to make a grand stand. This is why the Mercury News Sucks, like you no facts. Are you afraid of a lawsuit?

    Really, that is the type of crap you post, they cannot investigate burglaries because one officer is accused of sexual assault? When the mayor and council put Measure B on the ballot which dropped the police department form 1400 members to under 800? Yes, they do not have enough officers to investigate property crimes.

    “That said, (according to you) Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell was right to focus on police honesty. “The joke in law school is that if you become a criminal attorney, you’ll find that all of your clients are guilty and all cops lie”. Really, that is the person I what to pay also 200K to be my city employee to monitor officer miss conduct.

    Really the police are held to the highest standard under oath while you can post anything you want on this blog.

    You are the one I cannot trust

  6. Finally can you please disclose in this “transparency political climate” how much Sheriff Laurie Smith is paying you to slam her opposition Kevin Jensen for the position of Sheriff or will you pull a Chuck Reed that we cannot talk about that. Thanks I already know you response.

    • Go to http://nf4.netfile.com/pub2/Search.aspx do a transaction search (“Search for specific Contributor / Vendor / Occupation….”) on Robinson Communications and you can see how much he’s been paid. The incumbent sheriff has given him at least $21,000 since the beginning of the year. Another interesting client… Judge Diane Ritchie has passed over $40,000 through to him since the beginning of the year.

      Honestly, they’re paying way to much for this bloated ego of bad ideas and verbal gaffes.

  7. I happened to run into 2 DSA today. One was near a coffee shop in Cupertino. Thoroughly unimpressive. He spent more time criticizing the lady sheriff than he did selling me on this Jannson fellow. When I asked him where Jannson stood on some topics he had no idea and walked off. A short time later a man that I can only describe as morbidly obese came to my doorstep handing out fliers. He was wheezing so badly I asked him if he was okay. I was glad when he left because I was afraid he was going to pass out on my porch. On top of that, his body odor was offensive. Talk about a union fat cat. My vote definitely goes to Lori Smith, the lady sheriff.

    • No one from the DSA or CPOA was walking in Cupertino today, interesting story though. The DSA & CPOA members teamed up with Sierra Lamar searchers today and walked in other areas to support Jensen; they received a very warm reception from everyone they talked too. I’ve seen pictures of the gathering prior to walking… none appeared obese to me. More than 20 people showed up today, the number of volunteers is increasing with every walk.

    • I would never cast a vote for a candidate without researching where they stand on issues. The information about Kevin Jensen is easily accessible on the internet. Casting a vote based on two encounters with individuals you felt were ineffective in their message is not responsible. But to each their own.

  8. Well, I did some internet research and found that Laurie Smith is supported by a diverse range of persons, from nearly all the city council people and mayors of almost all the cities in the county. Plus a lot of state elected endorse Smith as well. La Raza, Republicans, chambers of commerce. That tells me that she is influential and can get things done. It’s hard to please everyone but she seems to be able to. And, I am a Republican.

    Jensen, on the other hand, has just retired law enforcement and unions. Now, from my days in the early high tech industry in the Valley, I went toe to toe with unions and I KNOW they have pacts where one union will support another without question. Kind of like herd instinct. The fact that several non-cop unions endorsed Smith really illustrates to me that the real reason the DSA and the prison guard union are unhappy is likely they just want more money and less accountability.

    You can’t tell me that the cops do all the work because as anyone who has any business experience will tell you, semiconductor engineers are great, but they couldn’t do their work without lay support. Just like nurses and doctors. So, the non-cop Sheriff employees must be happy with Smith.

    I read the papers and watch the news. Sheriff Smith got the Lehigh guy, put Sierra’s killer behind bars pretty quickly and identified the young people and got convictions in the Pott case (close to home for me).

    Sure, do a internet search on anyone prominent and you will find good and criticism. Fact is, search Kevin Jebnsen and there’s just nothing except the FBI national academy, which Sheriff Smith also went to. I went on the FBI website and while this Nat Acad program seems nice, it’s basically open to alot of police officers and offered 4 times a year. That tells me the program is probably very general in content. Trust me, I’ve seen programs offered like these for advanced business management and they are no big deal. Who, in local city government, has not been to the Harvard or JFK school for city administrators?

    So yes, I base my encounters on those who I would assume, since they are going door to door, to have facts in hand and the truth. The two I met had neither. I will still vote for Sherif Smith.

  9. Glad you have done your research and though I am unlikely to change your vote, I have done mine as well and there is no way I will be casting a vote for Laurie Smith. I belonged to a union and in all honesty voted against their recommendations almost every time. I too am a republican and the union interests rarely aligned with mine. In this case though I am doing all that I can to make sure their message gets out. Kevin is getting my vote for many reasons. First, accountability in the work place is vital to any healthy organization. Currently, there is a culture of fear and dissatisfaction present in the Sheriff’s office and this is not healthy. When over 90% of employees are dissatisfied with leadership I worry that the quality of service will decrease. I see what is happening in San Jose and know the low morale among officers has had an impact on the quality of service. I also find it truly lacking in integrity that the Sheriff compromised the emails Kevin Jensen was sent while he was still a captain. This was done without just cause and in my mind it sounded like harassment. Second, it is unacceptable to me that the incumbent refuses engage in a public debate with Kevin Jensen. Who is the Sheriff accountable to? First and foremost, she is accountable to the public. They are the reason she has a job. So far, I have heard her political manager talk about a debate like it is a waste of time or an inconvenience. The public has a right to hear from her mouth where she stands on issues and so far I only seem to hear from her political manager or others endorsing her. Thirdly, she does not work well with others. Did you know that she outsources deputy training outside of the county? South Bay Regional is a training agency that deputies are not allowed to attend because of an issue the Sheriff has with the director who by the way is endorsing Kevin Jensen. My loved one has traveled to classes all over the state costing nearly $1000 per week in food and lodging. The same classes were offered minutes from our home. Finally, and I feel most important, she has mismanaged many cases. Some of the ones you quoted were mismanaged. Yes, the quarry shooter was caught, but did you know that she sent home key personal that day when the situation was far from being resolved, putting deputies and the public in danger? Having a loved one down there in the heat of it all, this was disconcerting to me. Sure, the Sierra LaMar suspect is in custody, but where is the body? The Sheriff called off the team who was looking for her and according to Marc Klaas, has stonewalled the civilian search. He is an expert in missing children searches and I believe him when he explains how passive information was withheld. Looking at the facts, Aldon Smith was absolutely given preferential treatment and I wonder how many other people have been given special treatment. Bottom line, I have seen first hand what an ineffective leader Laurie a Smith is and will do all I can to get that message out. Time will tell whether your suspicions of the unions motivations were on point. I fear they are not and it is the public that will ultimately suffer if she is re-elected.