As more details emerge in the Anne Arundel County (MD) Executive misconduct allegations, it is becoming alarmingly clear that the members of John Leopold’s police security detail were allegedly used for much more than protecting people. In fact, during a recent news story reported by Baltimore’s CBS affiliate, WJZ-TV, many embarrassing details are now coming to light – http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2012/08/10/officers-leopold-ordered-firing-of-county-worker/.
The concept of elected officials using members of their sworn security teams for personal errands is nothing new; many sworn officers have been asked to make dry cleaning pick-ups, bank deposits, grocery store runs, etc. during their normal tours of duty. This is a huge gray area in public service that must be addressed and appropriately codified at the highest levels.
Quite candidly, officers don’t want to complain because they don’t want to lose their positions or run the risk of being on the “outs” with administration officials. Law enforcement leadership has the obligation to weigh-in and make certain sworn members of police agencies are doing what they were trained to do, not run menial errands for those they are sworn to protect. As a citizen, I don’t want officers running personal errands, posting campaign signs or building investigative dossiers of those that may run against the elected officials they are sworn to protect. Police should be police, not personal service agents; police officers should be investigating criminals, not political foes.
Bottom line – when our nation’s police officers take an oath to “serve and protect,” the term “serve” doesn’t apply to elected officials who choose to inappropriately utilize the highly-trained, scarce resources of our nation’s public safety entities.