Sunday, March 15, 2015

Good cop, bad cop

I wrote this posting in 2009. It is about a cop who committed sexual offenses under the color of his authority, then in a bizarre twist of fate, became something of a hero when a mall shooting broke out. The publicity he got from the hero status made him recognizable to his victims, and then he became a criminal in a cop suit.

In the past few months we have seen lots of stories about police officers, most of them negative. Those stories remind us that police officers are human, just like the rest of the society they are supposed to be protecting and serving. But we have to hold them to a higher standard. There is no other way to deal with people who have that power and that authority built into their jobs and uniforms. They cannot use the uniform and the authority to be thieves, bullies, murderers...or sex criminals.

I have tried following up on Hammond’s story, but it seems to stop around the time he went to jail for his sex crimes. He had already resigned from the police force when he was convicted.

 Ken Hammond, hero, 2007

Former police officer Kenneth Hammond has seen the highest highs: being honored as a hero for helping prevent further killings as a killer stalked Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City, Utah, killing five people and injuring four. Hammond was off-duty, having dinner with his wife, when he heard shots. When the Salt Lake Police swat team arrived Hammond shouted at them he was an off-duty officer. Even though the shooter was killed by a sergeant of the Salt Lake Police, Hammond, a member of the nearby Ogden Police Department, was touted as a hero, paraded before the media, given honors.

Hammond also knows the lows. Because of the publicity a woman came forward and said that when she was 17 she had performed oral sex on him. According to a story in the June 1, 2009 Salt Lake Tribune, he had met her two years before the Trolley Square shootings while he investigated a noise complaint. He had asked for her phone number, called her and returned later that night. She was with an 18-year-old woman, and while he fondled the 18-year-old the 17-year-old performed oral sex. According to the report he had also stopped the younger woman a couple of times on the road, once while she was drinking, but he let her go. When she saw him on the news she made her complaint.

Good cops, bad cops. At the time Hammond committed the alleged offense of having sex with an underage person he was 32, and had taken an oath to protect the public, not take advantage. Across the country some police have used their power and status for sexual purposes. Sometimes like Hammond they're caught and discharged, sometimes they're never caught.

What must've run through Hammond's mind when he succumbed to temptation? I'm guessing he never thought he'd be paying for it by going to jail for 90 days, losing his job, and having the media remind the public that this once-hero is now just another horny guy taking advantage of a situation so he could get sex.

Ken Hammond, prisoner, 2009

What a sad story all the way around. Young married father loses job because of his own behavior. His wife, who works as a dispatcher for the same police department, must be going through hell. And what to tell their kid when he's old enough, that his dad threw away his career in law enforcement for a blow job?

Good cop, bad cop=same cop.

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