The Arizona Republic has a “long-ish” article on Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik today.
Dupnik, in whose jurisdiction the Gabrielle Giffords and other recent Arizona shootings took place, thinks that somehow his experience has earned him a higher platitude from which he can speak freely about his OPINIONS without having to take facts into account:
Dupnik maintains he is voicing the concerns of many law-enforcement officials. “They see this side of raw life every day,” he said. “They understand what causes some of the violence in our country.”
He added, “I’m 75 years old. Thirty years sheriff, 52 years a cop. Maybe I’ve earned the right to speak my mind.” (emphasis mine)
Yet Dupnik says he already is looking forward to when the furor settles down and he can go back to simply being sheriff. He has no plans to run for state or federal office.
“I’ll never seek another office,” he said. “I’ve lived as a cop my whole life and I’ll die as a cop.”
While Sheriff Dupnik has the right to his opinions like every other citizen in this country, just because he’s served decades in law enforcement does not give him the right to spout off unsubstantiated opinions about the case. Especially when he is the chief investigating officer responsible for bringing this killer to justice. How is he serving the community when his opinions may be used by the defense attorney to cast a shadow of doubt on her client’s guilt? Does he not see that his opinions, which have no proven basis in fact, give the shooter an excuse on which to hang his defense? While Dupnik may think he’s somehow free to speak his mind, even a rookie cop knows that you are supposed to divorce yourself emotionally from an investigation and concentrate on the evidence and the evidence alone, not your opinion.
As far as Dupnik’s belief that he’ll “die as a cop,” I’m a little doubtful of that claim. He might think his elected position is safe, but when, as an elected law enforcement officer, you show that you cannot separate fact from fiction while performing an investigation, you raise doubts on your abilities to perform the job to its required criteria. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dupnik’s constituents vote him out of office the next time he’s up for re-election. After all, I’m pretty sure they can differentiate between fact and fiction.