Whether you are a full-time or reserve police officer or deputy sheriff job applicant, this cautionary tale is for you. A recent story out of California about a San Diego Police job application and its jail bound author reminded me of the wide variety of folks that inexplicably apply to become a law enforcement officer.
Many do not deserve to make it through the process. Thankfully usually, honorable police executives do their best to weed people out that have no business being placed in a position of public trust.
According to published reports, Robert Williams admitted on the questionnaire to have had sexual contact with a child, as well as having viewed child pornography. As a former police chief and police academy director, I have long advised aspiring reserve and full-time law enforcers to be honest and forthright in answering all questions in the police hiring process. Of course, any omissions in our business is also considered a lie.
And so, here is San Diego Police officer candidate Robert Williams who gets busted for what is apparently a track record of abhorrent sex crimes involving children. Search warrant results, along with statements from his others, helped to seal his being charged.
Amazing that he would put himself in that place. Before anyone misreads that statement, I am not commenting on his honesty. I guess I should commend it (though it does seem a tad bit stupid – forgetting that he should not have done the crime to begin with). Rather, my head shaking stems from the fact that someone with this sort of alleged activity would think that they would be police officer material.
Before you think that this is unusual, a couple of other police applicant arrested stories…
Here’s a story that I have shared with police academy cadets eager for their chance to pin on the coveted badge. A few years back, a young man sat down in front of a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department oral review panel in Nevada. Admitting honorably that he was nervous as the interview board went about their questioning, things seem initially to be going well. Here is the basic jist of what transpired.
Interviewer: “When is the last time you smoked Marijuana?”
Applicant: “Before this interview. I was nervous, so I needed something to calm my nerves.”
Again, not the exception. I remember in one agency that worked for, I was in charge of some areas including ride-alongs for members of the community interested in law enforcement. Civilian ride-alongs, as is the policy with most law enforcement agencies, have to fill out and sign a liability waiver and undergo a cursory background check.
A young man who was a criminal justice major college student filled out the paperwork and application requesting the rife-along. He seemed sincere in his interests and stated that he wanted to go into law enforcement. I ran the usual checks and, as we say in the biz, got a “hit.” for a warrant for misdemeanor FTA (Failure to Appear in court on a previous charge).
So, I called up this young man and told him to come down to the station as his ride-along was ready for him. He got that ride-along, only not in the front seat and it was a one way ride- to the county jail.
You would think that this serious young college student would have made sure that any warrant would be cleared up before pursuing his dream of being a cop. Of course, you’d also think that an accused pedophile would realize that those activities could conflict with becoming a police officer.