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美联社调查显示全国范围内惩罚腐败或有问题的警察的程序存在缺陷

如果您曾经在就业前筛查过程中接受过背景调查,那么该过程很可能涉及通过地方和州警察部门进行犯罪记录搜索。但是,有哪些系统可以确保对警察和其他执法人员进行筛查并对其行为负责?根据美联社最近的一篇文章,这个问题的答案可能会让你大吃一惊。

无论是州级还是地方级的警察部门,通常不仅要进行犯罪历史检查,还要进行身体和心理测试。换句话说,在执法部门找到工作的标准往往相当严格。

根据美联社的文章,这个问题更多地与官员在执法部门工作后如何处理有关。据报道,美联社进行了为期一年的调查,以了解全国各地的州和县执法人员,从警察到监狱看守,是如何因性犯罪而受到惩罚的。这家著名的新闻机构发现了一个错综复杂的系统,即使在谴责与性有关的指控之后,该系统也经常让执法人员摆脱困境或让他们有机会“从一个工作跳到另一个工作”。

在美联社调查中,所涉及的性犯罪有很大不同。一些警察被指控强奸;其他人被指控在工作中摸索或向公民提出建议,或其他类似的性行为不端罪行。在许多情况下,美联社发现,即使是屡次犯罪的警官也并不总是像大多数州允许的那样被取消资格。相反,一些警官被短暂停职,不得不面临减薪,但甚至没有被解雇。其他人被允许悄悄辞职,并在其他部门找到工作。

美联社文章中描述的一个非同寻常的案例涉及一名科罗拉多县警察,他在因涉嫌强奸而被捕几天后自杀。这名警官此前曾在科罗拉多州的另一个警察局工作,在那里他被指控对一名女性公民进行脱衣搜查和摸索。这名警官换了一份新工作,他以前的雇主没有把这件事通知他的新部门。后来,在新部门任职期间,同一名警官被指控性侵犯。该部门对他进行了缓刑并削减了他的工资,但并没有解雇他。

这里的问题似乎是在如何处理问题官员方面缺乏一致性。美联社文章指出,50 个州中只有 44 个州可以在出现不当行为问题后取消警察的认证,以防止他们简单地转移到不同的部门。不允许取消认证的两个州是最大的州:纽约州和加利福尼亚州。即使在有取消认证法的州,报告要求也各不相同,给各个部门更多的懒惰余地,让问题官员只需轻轻一拍就可以逃脱。

如何解决这个问题?首先,取消认证需要成为一项在全国范围内执行的法律。其次,必须大幅收紧报告要求,对未向州警察标准委员会报告问题官员的部门进行处罚。第三,各个部门不仅需要更好地进行犯罪背景调查,还需要对其官员进行彻底的背景调查。同样,部门需要对其过去员工的行为更加透明,而不是采取“他现在是别人的问题”的立场。如果没有这些法律和标准,该国的警察腐败和不当行为问题很可能只会继续恶化。




Police departments, whether at the state or local level, typically run not only criminal history checks but also physical and psychological tests. The criteria for landing jobs in law enforcement, in other words, tend to be fairly steep.

The problem, according to the AP article, has more to do with how officers are dealt with after they have already held jobs in law enforcement. The Associated Press reportedly conducted a yearlong investigation to find out how state and county law enforcement officials throughout the country, from cops to jail guards, are punished for sex offenses. The well-known news agency uncovered a patchwork system that often lets law enforcement officials off the hook or gives them a chance to "jump from job to job," even after damning sex-related accusations.

The sex offenses in question varied quite a bit, across the AP investigation. Some cops were accused of rape; others were accused of groping or propositioning citizens on the job, or of other similar sexual misconduct offenses. In numerous cases, the Associated Press found that even officers with repeat offenses weren't always decertified, as most states allow. Instead, some officers were briefly suspended and had to face pay cuts, but weren't even dismissed from their jobs. Others were allowed to resign quietly and find jobs with other departments.

One extraordinary case described in the AP article involved a Colorado county police officer who committed suicide days after he was arrested on rape suspicions. The officer had previously worked for another police department in Colorado, where he was accused of strip searching and groping a female citizen. The officer moved on to a new job, and his previous employers failed to inform his new department of the incident. Later, while with the new department, the same officer was accused of sexual assault. The department put him on probation and slashed his pay, but didn't fire him.

The problem here seems to be a lack of consistency in how problem officers are dealt with. The AP article noted that only 44 out of 50 states can decertify cops after misconduct issues, to prevent them from simply moving on to different departments. Two of the states that don't allow for decertification are the biggest ones: New York and California. Even in states where decertification laws are on the books, the reporting requirements vary, giving individual departments more leeway to be lazy and let a problem officer get away with just a slap on the wrist.

How can this issue be fixed? First off, decertification needs to be a law that is enforced on a nationwide basis. Secondly, reporting requirements have to be tightened significantly, with punishments for departments that fail to report problem officers to state police standards boards. Thirdly, individual departments need to be better about running not just criminal background checks, but also thorough reference checks on their officers. On the same note, departments need to be more transparent about their past employees' behavior, rather than taking the "he's someone else's problem now" stance. Without these laws and standards in place, it's likely that the country's police corruption and misconduct problems will only continue to worsen.


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