Policing the police: Why local experts say law enforcement turns "bad"

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POSTED: Friday, May 9, 2014 - 9:36pm

UPDATED: Saturday, May 10, 2014 - 2:12pm

Whether it's agents at the border, detectives on a case, or deputies in the field, several law enforcement officials are making headlines in the Borderland for being dirty.

"There's no expectation that they can do these things and get away with it," said El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles.

Sheriff Wiles is referring to recent cases of sexual assault and brutality in just the last month involving deputies within the El Paso County Sheriff's Office that led to firings or resignations of three employees.

Wiles says it's unacceptable behavior but doesn't think it's a trend at the Sheriff's Office.

"This organization is made up of good, hardworking people, who really do the right thing every day and it's really a shame they have to take that hit," said Sheriff Wiles.

Ron Martin, the President of the El Paso Municipal Police Officers Association, argues the hiring and training process to weed out the good from the bad is tough, but sometimes the crooked ones still get through.

"You can't train somebody to be ethical. You can't train somebody to be honest. You can't train somebody to do the right thing. It's either in that person or not," said Martin.

Daniel Jones, an assistant professor of Psychology at UTEP, says the power of the badge does make some people believe they can do wrong and get away with it.
But he says the ones who are most likely to actually do it are the ones who are power hungry, unsympathetic, and self-centered even before they join the force.

"It's vital to constantly be evaluating yourself and making sure that you are taking other people's perspectives, you are trying to see through the eyes of the people who you are supposed to be serving," said Jones.

Sheriff Wiles says he implemented a polygraph test for new hires when he joined the Sheriff's Office back in 2009 as another way to toughen the screening process.

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