Commentary: Cop vs. Cop

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, October 6, 2006

Steve Fisk, the president of the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff’s Association was seething. An Elk Grove traffic cop had the temerity to ticket a deputy. “They don’t know what professional courtesy is,” he fumed in his letter.

It seems Fisk’s definition of professional courtesy is cops don’t ticket other cops. And there’s more. He suggested that deputies retaliate at the jail booking room. “I would make damn sure that every Elk Grove officer’s paper work was absolutely perfect,” Fisk wrote. “If they had to rewrite it a couple of times before I accepted it, oh well.”

When that letter became public, the union rightly suspended Fisk. But what about Sheriff John McGinness? Fisk is on full time leave while president of the union, but he’s still a deputy. McGinness is disappointed, but has no plans to discipline Fisk. The sheriff says the law gives very broad free speech rights to unions. “As union president, he has some liberties,” McGinness says, “and like it or not I’m bound by that.”

Even, if he can’t discipline Fisk, McGinness must make certain his deputies don’t follow their union head’s lead.  Police agencies have to work together to fight crime – not each other.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.