The recent Cold Case Posse press conference left a bitter taste in my mouth. Not because they investigated Obama, and not because they think they found something. But because they broke the Do-Right Rule getting to wherever it was they ended up. The Do-Right Rule isn’t something that it is written down, or rigidly defined. In fact, you usually don’t hear much about it unless it’s broken. Which gives the person breaking it the really good excuse to play dumb like they don’t quite understand what all the fuss is about.
However, with Sheriff Joe Arpaio and The Cold Case Bunch, there are some general rules for law enforcement officers that provide guidance and they are written down. These guidelines definitely apply to Sheriff Joe. I believe they should apply to the Cold Case Posse too because they were acting under his authority. But, let’s see what guidance they provide on things like conducting investigations where the officers have a financial interest in the outcome. These general rules are found in the Model Policy on Standards of Conduct from The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and in a second, and much longer, Concepts and Issues Paper. Both are found here:
Here are some excerpts from the shorter Model Policy, with some bolding by me:
The rules of conduct set forth in this policy are not intended to serve as an exhaustive treatment of requirements, limitations, or prohibitions on officer conduct and activities established by this agency. Rather, they are intended to (1) alert officers to some of the more sensitive and often problematic matters involved in police conduct and ethics; (2) specify, where possible, actions and inactions that are contrary to and that conflict with the duties and responsibilities of law enforcement officers, and (3) guide officers in conducting themselves and their affairs in a manner that reflects standards of deportment and professionalism as required of law enforcement officers.
8. Abuse of Law Enforcement Powers or Position
a. Officers shall report any unsolicited gifts, gratuities, or other items of value that they receive and shall provide a full report of the circumstances of their receipt if directed.
b. Officers shall not use their authority or position for financial gain, for obtaining or granting privileges or favors not otherwise available to them or others except as a private citizen, to avoid the consequences of illegal acts for themselves or for others, to barter, solicit, or accept any goods or services (to include, gratuities, gifts, discounts, rewards, loans, or fees) whether for the officer or for another.
e. Officers are prohibited from using information gained through their position as a law enforcement officer to advance financial or other private interests of themselves or others.
f. Officers who institute or reasonably expect to benefit from any civil action that arises from acts performed under color of authority shall inform their commanding officer.
B.Public Statements, Appearances, and Endorsements
1. Officers shall not, under color of authority,
b. divulge or willfully permit to have divulged, any information gained by reason of their position, for anything other than its official, authorized purpose; or
Officers may not, under color of authority, endorse, recommend, or facilitate the sale of commercial products or services. This includes but is not limited to the use of tow services, repair firms, attorneys, bail bondsmen, or other technical or professional services. It does not pertain to the endorsement of appropriate governmental services where there is a duty to make such endorsements.
There is no doubt in my mind that co-authoring a book with a third party, which deals with the subject matter of an ongoing investigation, and comes out a day or so after the press conference, and which is for sale, falls within that prohibition. And it goes downhill from there. As Dr. Conspiracy notes:
Corsi says that Sheriff Joe Arpaio was informed 6 months ago of his commercial intent. The obvious point is that if the Cold Case Posse had come up something not sensational, there would be no book, and if it hadn’t been decided six months ago at the outset of the investigation that the results would attack Obama, WND wouldn’t have told Arpaio about their financial interest.
As stated in the Concepts and Position Paper at the IACP link above:
A. Purpose of the Document
This document was designed to accompany the Model Policy on Standards of Conduct developed by the IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center.
Unlike many of the policies developed by the National Law Enforcement Policy Center, law enforcement agencies should regard the present policy as pertinent to all members of their agency, not solely to sworn officers. While sworn personnel may be at greater risk with regard to many of the issues addressed herein, all members of police agencies should be cognizant of and may be held equally accountable for the mandates set forth in this policy.
A. Policy Rationale
Actions of officers that are inconsistent, incompatible, or in conflict with the values established by this agency negatively affect its reputation and that of its officers. Such actions and inactions thereby detract from the agency’s overall ability to effectively and efficiently protect the public, maintain peace and order, and conduct other essential business. Therefore, it is the policy of this law enforcement agency that officers conduct themselves at all times in a manner that reflects the ethical standards consistent with the rules contained in this policy and otherwise disseminated by this agency.
There is more at the link, but there is no need to cut and paste large sections here when you can read it there. For the purposes of this Internet Article, just ask yourself whether the Do-Right Rule was violated, whether this investigation seems professional, and whether or not these actions detract from the agency’s overall ability to effectively and efficiently protect the public, maintain peace and order, and conduct other essential business.:
teams up with a reporter, to investigate the subject of that reporter’s venom;
pre-authorizes a book on the investigation;
conducts a “forgery” investigation without looking at the physical document or contacting the agency which issued the document;
accepts favorable treatment in the paper during an election year;
allows one of the investigators to partner up with the reporter in the sale of the book;
permits the reporter to help conduct a press conference; and
permits the book to be published while the investigation is ongoing.
In my opinion, Sheriff Arpaio and the Cold Case Posse mugged the Do-Right Rule in a dark alley, and left it for dead. More on this subject later.
Note 1. The Image and “Maintain The Right.” The Mounties have been immortalized as symbols of Canadian culture in numerous Hollywood movies and television series, which often feature the image of the Mountie as square-jawed, stoic and polite, yet with a steely determination and physical toughness that sometimes appears superhuman. Coupled with the adage that the Mountie “always gets his man,” the image projects them as fearsome, incorruptible, dogged yet gentle champions of the law.
The RCMP’s motto is actually Maintiens le droit, French for “Defending the Law”; it accidentally also means “Keep Right,” describing the rule of the road in Canada (which is one of the few Commonwealth realms to drive on the right-hand side). The Hollywood motto derives from a comment by the Montana newspaper, the Fort Benton Record: “They fetch their man every time.”
Note 2. Bonus. My father used to sing this song a lot when we went somewhere in the car.