Last week two days in a row the morning paper had front page headlines about police malfeasance they learned about through their open records requests.
The state gives sworn officers a tremendous amount of power over citizens, and we rightly hold them to the highest standard. For that the morning paper here in Midland, Texas, is doing its job.
But the worst police officer offense they uncovered was the confiscation of panhandlers' signs and not turning them into the evidence room. The citizens were left thinking: "If that's all they could find, the cops must be pretty well behaved." No beatings, no blatant abuse of authority, just confiscation of panhandler signs.
Now it's true that with sky high home prices and hotel room shortages there could be quite a few residents living in a van down by the river. But equating panhandling with homelessness is an assumption that may not be accurate.
In fact, there are rumors about people who do it because they make more money than they would at a job. It makes sense, especially if the individual is on public assistance that would vanish if he/she were officially employed.
There was also apparently one police officer who kept a set of brass knuckles for himself. That's not too good, but the Internal Affairs office dispensed its own punishment to the officer. And best of all, the other officers weren't afraid to report misdeeds they observed in the department.
In any case, it looks like we've got a pretty good police department. If you don't believe me, just ask the oil companies that are hiring away the experienced officers.