The concept of "zero tolerance," in which prohibited behavior receives a set punishment without discretion and regardless of mitigating facts, is a popular one in law enforcement and anti-drug circles. We're told that a zero-tolerance policy in schools, where kids are suspended for possession of weapons (even if it's a pocketknife) or drugs (even over-the-counter) communicates society's disapproval of the behavior in question, is necessary to keep schools safe, and reduces litigation over discretionary decisions which might otherwise be deemed arbitrary or capricious. If every kid carrying a pocketknife to school is suspended, there can be no recriminations that authorities didn't do everything they could the next time a pocketknife massacre takes place.
The one area in which zero tolerance policies seem to be unpopular among the usual chorus is law enforcement itself. That's a shame, because the idea has a lot of merit. Consider the case of the Grady County, Oklahoma Sheriff's Department, which seems to follow a "maximum tolerance" policy.
Allegations against the recently promoted Deputy Sean Knight of the Grady County Sheriff’s Department have arisen after he allegedly falsified his timesheets while working security detail for Winter Creek Golf Course in Blanchard.
According to a manager with the business, Knight clocked in one evening to the high paying security position and later that evening a fire alarm went off. However, Knight was nowhere to be found when the fire department showed up.
Knight was promoted to sergeant after the previous occupant of the office was caught stealing money from jailhouse inmates. That's a fine example of zero-tolerance in action. But it appears the policy won't be applied to Knight, even though his supervisor at the Sheriff's Department got him the after-hours security job. Even though his supervisor at the Sheriff's Department fired him from the after-hours security job.
Deputy Laffoon, who first denied knowing anything occurred pertaining to Knight’s employment at his second job, but who later admitted Knight had been fired for the situation, said, “Who told you about this, I want to know… look I can’t say anything else about it, I was told by Art (Kell) that you need to talk to him if you have any further questions.”
Sheriff Art Kell said, “I have enough to worry about with this other deputy stealing from the department to start an investigation over another deputy who may have falsified timesheets… until they break the law, I’m not going to get involved. I’ve had enough bad media press to deal with to start this up.”
It would appear that in Grady County, a man who allegedly falsifies his time is too risky to work as a rent-a-cop, but perfectly acceptable as a real cop. Even though he has a record of murdering dogs.
And in August, Grady County, Oklahoma, Deputy Sean Knight stopped in Blanchard at the home of Tammy Christopher to ask directions. He ended up shooting her approaching dog in the head. A video of that incident has become evidence in a lawsuit against Knight, the county and the state.
A lawsuit that is about to be settled for about 100 times the cost of a new dog, which is the general measure the law uses in valuing such things. You can see video of the Deputy's performance around frisky canines at the link above. My impression on seeing it was that I don't want that man carrying a badge anywhere, much less a firearm.
That's why zero-tolerance works. If Grady County just had a zero-tolerance policy toward deputies who needlessly shoot pets, there would be no need to agonize over whether it's appropriate to retain deputies who can't be trusted to guard a golf course.