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Where do we draw the line with integrity?

In Our Opinion


This year we’ve been fortunate to collaborate with the West Plains chapter of Partners Advancing Character Education (PACE) to help promote good character. The trait for this month is integrity.

PACE describes integrity as living with a set of values that includes honesty, a respect for others and a sense of personal responsibility.

After examining the trait, we believe that a person’s thoughts and actions reflect their integrity, which can affect the way others perceive them. If someone acts in a way that lowers their integrity, it can have a ripple effect that compromises all aspects of that person’s life.

One incident where we’ve seen the latter was the situation involving the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

In August 2013, Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Kenoyer was caught having sex while on duty and lied about it during the investigation. Although he was terminated, an arbitrator made a decision that reinstated the deputy, because his termination was too harsh of a punishment.

In response to this and other similar cases, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich issued a memo, June 4, stating, “having sex on the job and providing false information — commonly known as lying will not be tolerated.”

In most professions, Kenoyer’s termination would have stuck and he would have had little to no chance of getting his job back, but, we understand that the arbitrator made their decision based on the rules and the process.

However, we do question the deputy’s integrity when he thought it was OK to engage in sexual relations while on patrol and provide false information when his superiors confronted him. Not only did he violate his department’s ethics, but also he could have put his relationships with his coworkers at risk.

If you work in law enforcement, the military or any other career where your life is at risk every day — how would you feel if your partner had been dishonest and had instances of misbehaving on duty? If you needed backup, could you depend on them to respond? If you had to discharge your firearm, could you rely on that person to represent your side fairly during the investigation?

Kenoyer’s actions not only affected himself but also could have affected the Sheriff’s Department in the eyes of the public.

Issues like this in law enforcement cause people to have less respect for police.

If an officer stops you and you recognize the name on their badge, would you need an attorney present because you know that person has been dishonest and untrustworthy? Do you need to take measures — such as recording your conversation with the officer — because you don’t know if you’re going to get fair treatment during the dialog?

The dishonest members of the law enforcement community are a small minority. The vast majority we trust to protect and serve with the utmost of integrity.

We hold others accountable and often set the bar high.

Can we all look in the mirror and hope to aspire to those same lofty expectations?

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