What we expect of our police officers is honesty and fairness. We expect them to be honest in their testimony against suspects, and to be fair when enforcing our laws. Violating that trust erodes the bond of respect that citizens must have with law enforcement.
Pinal County Sheriff Chris Vasquez doesn’t have much use for the truth, or for fairness. It also seems he could be called a thief. And it is clear he deserves some form of punishment.
As reported Wednesday by the Tribune’s David Biscobing, Vasquez admits to plagiarizing others’ works for use in his monthly letters. He admits to stealing ideas and words — anywhere from sentence fragments to entire speeches — and not giving the writers any credit. But even more alarming is the utter disdain he shows to those critical of his actions. He told Biscobing: “You can call it plagiarism if you want, I’m just providing a public service.”
Well, it most certainly is plagiarism, and it most certainly is not a public service. Neither is snidely dismissing those who find the spineless act to be a foul practice. Biscobing interviewed Ted Burke, a former police officer and member of the Institute of Criminal Justice Ethics in New York City, who drove home the question these actions raise: “If they are deceiving the public about this, then what else are they deceiving the public about?”
In the business of journalism, plagiarism will get anyone fired. It is troubling that Vasquez’s attitude toward this subject would not merit him even working as a freelance writer for a middle school newspaper.
Vasquez told Biscobing that he and others on the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board found the subject amusing and a non-issue. If that indeed is the case, then the entire AZPOST board should be scrutinized.
According to the board’s most recent “Integrity Bulletin,” the board “is mandated by the Legislature to establish and enforce the physical, mental, and moral fitness standards for all peace officers in the state. The board meets the charge to protect the public by overseeing the integrity of Arizona’s law enforcement officers.” If this is indeed what is expected, the board needs to investigate one of its own immediately.
Pinal County voters also have an opportunity to weigh in on Vasquez’s fitness for office as he’s up for election this year. We urge them to closely examine the concerns about Vasquez’s professional character revealed by his routine intellectual larceny.