Police officers are held to high standards

Published Apr 3, 2013 at 10:35 am (Updated Apr 3, 2013 at 10:35 am)

Lately, it seems as though the top news stories have involved “scandals” involving area police and police chiefs. Back in February, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl forced Pittsburgh police chief Nate Harper to resign, and it was later revealed that Harper misappropriated more than $70,000 in public money in addition to not filing tax returns for four years.

In March, West Pike Run police chief Michael Hardesty was suspended without pay for animal cruelty charges. Humane Society investigators found his Rottweiler without food, water, bedding and in deplorable living conditions. The dog was emaciated and living in Hardesty’s basement – charges that, as a police officer, are particularly disgusting. Lets not forget that Hardesty would have arrested someone else for the exact same crime, should he have been privy to it.

In both cases, the chiefs knew better, and were bound to get caught eventually. Why they did what they did, why they felt that they were exempt from the laws that the rest of us are expected to follow, we do not know.

More locally – and much less seriously – in Cecil Township, police chief John Pushak resigned, following paid administrative leave during an independent audit. The audit revealed discrepancies less than $10,000 through unauthorized deposits and withdrawals for extra-duty expenses. And, it was Pushak himself who brought the matter of the possible discrepancies to the attention of Cecil Township Manager Donald Gennuso. In Pushak’s case, it appears that he was merely doing what previous boards had permitted him to do. However, he wrongly assumed that the current board had also given him the green light. We all know what happens when one assumes.

Officers of the law are obviously expected to conduct themselves with integrity and be law-abiding citizens. They are local heroes and role models, particularly to children. So much so, that we hold them to a higher standard. Police officers should lead by example. It is our hope that all police departments, boards, councils and other public officials not only learn from these mistakes, but see opportunity to start with a clean slate.

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