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Thu., Aug. 31, 2006

Editorials: Good cop

Whenever a law enforcement officer embarrasses the profession with an indiscretion, apologists say an isolated incident shouldn’t reflect on all cops. Most of them honor the badge, they just don’t get much credit for it.

Point noted.

Recognition is due Sgt. Craig Meidl and Cpl. Robbie Dashiell of the Spokane Police Department. While off duty on Sunday and attending a rock concert in Grant County they spotted fellow officer Jonathan Smith (also off duty but not in their company) buy and eat what looked like marijuana-laced cookies.

They blew the whistle on Smith, not the easiest thing to do in a uniformed fraternity. It was a principled act.

Because of the difficulty of field testing a cookie for marijuana, Smith wasn’t charged with anything, but thanks to Meidl and Dashiell he had a trip to the woodshed waiting for him at home. Facing the possibility of being fired, Smith quit.

It’s impossible to know whether the situation would have unfolded the same way a year ago, before a wave of uncomfortable publicity about police accountability – or the absence of it – washed across the community.

Whatever went through their minds, Meidl and Dashiell displayed the kind of integrity that ought to be the norm, not just by respecting the law themselves but by insisting that their colleagues do the same.

Acting Police Chief Jim Nicks called Smith’s actions an isolated incident that shouldn’t reflect on others in the department. Beyond that, he acted promptly and decisively and didn’t sweep it under the rug.

That’s progress.

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