Double standard in Massachusetts: civilians’ arrests are public while officers’ arrests are private

The Massachusetts Secretary of State has announced its view that police agencies can legally release arrest information for private citizens while withholding the same information when a police officer is arrested. Police agencies typically release the name, age, occupation and town of a private citizen who is arrested. Police departments feel this is information that should be public. A double standard protecting the privacy of police officers should not be permitted.

This special policy protecting police officers from embarrassment is improper and dangerous. It is improper to give police officers who are arrested benefits that other members of the public do not have. The public has a right to know if police officers are obeying the law. If police officers who are not on duty are accorded extra privacy when they are arrested, it makes police officers feel that the laws they enforce do not apply to them. This can lead to an abuse of authority. It also angers members of the public. There is already a problem of police officers failing to arrest fellow officers for crimes like OUI as a “professional courtesy.” These courtesies should not be permitted. But if a fellow officer feels the need to arrest a police officer that should not be hidden from public view.

It is more important that the public know when a police officer is arrested than when a member of the public is arrested. Police officers carry guns and drive cars as part of their profession. If a police officer has an alcohol problem it is a threat to the public. If a police officer is intoxicated while on duty this is a serious danger to members of the public. We should hold police officers to a higher standard of conduct than ordinary members of the public, but the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s ruling holds police officers to a lower standard.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend