Letter to the Editor

Recognize conflict

Arroyo GrandeMay 22, 2014 

As a young law enforcement officer, I was in court arguing to send a defendant to prison. His defense attorney argued for a lesser sentence. A few weeks later, I bumped into the same defense attorney in a restaurant while having dinner with my family. We chatted cordially, and when I went to pay our bill, I was told by the wait staff that he had graciously already paid our dinner bill. The next day, I sent the attorney a certified check and note, thanking him for the kind act, but politely declining. As I said in the letter, “While I greatly appreciate your kind gesture, as I’m sure you will agree, we must avoid even the appearance of a conflict or impropriety.”

Most of us in law enforcement learn early on the dangers of even the perception that we behaved unethically by accepting gifts or gratuities. This lesson has served me well throughout my career in law enforcement. Mr. Dan Dow’s acceptance of a campaign contribution, from a defense attorney who represented a defendant Mr. Dow was prosecuting, suggests that he has not learned the same lesson. Collectively, and as a profession, we can do better.

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