The Associated Press has found that about 1,000 police officers have had their law-enforcement licenses revoked for sexual misconduct while in uniform.
AP based its yearlong study on a state-by-state search of decertification records. It covered a six-year period, 2009-2014, during which 550 officers lost their license for rape, extorting citizens into performing sexual acts to avoid arrest, groping and other sexual assaults.
Another 440 officers were decertified for sexual misconduct, including the possession of child pornography, voyeurism in the guise of police work and consensual, but prohibited, on-duty intercourse.
According to AP, this is the most complete examination on record. But the news agency adds that the actual number is much higher.
“It’s happening probably in every law-enforcement agency across the country. It’s so underreported, and people are scared that if they call and complain about a police officer, they think every other police officer is going to be then out to get them,” stated Sarasota, Fla., Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, who helped study the problem for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, according to AP.
The news agency also blamed the undercount on “a patchwork of state laws.” AP points, for example, to New York and California, which lack a statewide system for revoking the licenses of officers for misconduct.
In other instances, some police departments, which normally maintain such records, failed to report cases of officers removed for sexual misconduct. In those instances, AP discovered the cases from news stories and court records.
This report comes out just days before former Oklahoma City Police Officer Daniel Holtzclaw goes on trial. Authorities have charged Holtzclaw, 28, with 36 counts of rape, sexual battery, and other sexual assaults of women in custody or inside his police car.
According to AP, the youngest accuser was 17 years old when Holtzclaw allegedly raped her on her mother’s front porch.
Read more at the Associated Press.