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.