Before I write a word about the above headline, please note that I respect law enforcement officers and the tough (and deadly) job they have. I am honored to work beside the skilled men and women who keep us safe around Fredericksburg, and I am happy to call many of them my friends.
But I’m compelled to write about the Newport News officer who is charged with perjury for allegedly lying under oath for a General District Court DWI case. He’s innocent until proven guilty, so I’m not going to discuss the merits of the case. Hopefully he’s truly innocent.
What concerns me about this scenario – almost more than the perjury issue – is that the Newport News Police Department gives out an award for the most DUI arrests. And, what do you know, the officer in question was given that award in 2009.
Officers should NEVER be motivated to look for charges based on a number that they’re trying to make. Whether it’s a quota or a competition to have the most in the department, trying to make numbers naturally encourages imperfect humans to cut corners.
Instead, law enforcement should focus on policing. Period. IF officers see a possible DUI, they should investigate it. IF there’s probable cause to arrest, they should do it. But they shouldn’t have any incentive to cook up tickets or shade the truth on any case.
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