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Police officers should not be held above the law
Alcoholism is not an excuse for someone to get away with committing crimes
Published 3/5/2012
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Washington state’s Human Rights Commission defends police officers who break laws and endanger lives.

Brad Thoma was an ex-cop who engaged in a hit-and-run accident while under the influence in 2009, according to the Spokesman Review. Now his attorney has filed a $4 million lawsuit against the city as of Tuesday because the city refused to re-employ him and pay back wages, according to KXLY.com. Spokane Mayor David Condon tried to pressure the council into re-hiring Thoma last Friday in order to avoid reparations.

However, according to NWCN.com, council member Steve Salvatori said, “Some battles are fought for principle and some battles are fought for dollars. When you fight for principles you fight until hell freezes over and then you fight on the ice.”

The basis of this legal argument falls on the definition of alcoholism, which has been classified as a disability by Washington state law. The lawsuit also stated the police department did not go far enough in making accomodations for Thoma.

The police department did offer Thoma a desk job, but he refused to take it and he was then fired — a move that I believe showed that the department went to sufficient measures to make accommodations for Thoma.

Alcoholism should be classified as a disability, but officers should not be allowed to commit crimes and still maintain their badge. Thoma got in a car while intoxicated, hit a woman with that car and then left the scene. Having a disability does not put him above the law and because of the nature of his work he should be held to even stricter standards.

The Human Rights Commission originally agreed that Thoma’s rights had been violated and that he should be reinstated as an officer and paid back wages, though they currently have begun reviewing that decision.

The fact that Thoma returning to his job has been discussed as an option should be seen as completely ridiculous and further proof that the current legal system has become so bogged down with laws that it has taken leave of reason. The moment that police departments put interlocking devices in cars to check the alcohol levels of their officers will be the moment when we need to take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves what went wrong.

The Human Rights Commissions needs to not just look at the rights of a person to not be discriminated against in reference to employment, but the rights of citizens to feel safe and protected by their law enforcement. The greatest mockery of all in this situation is that Thoma’s attorney wants the public to pay Thoma for his criminal activity and endangering their lives.

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