Kent County must immediately fire — not defend — the animal control officer who showed support for pro-pit bull demonstrators who protested an art exhibit that memorialized people killed by dogs. His or her actions showed bias against dog bite victims. The fact that the police did not arrest any of the demonstrators does not excuse the officer’s conduct. To promote confidence in law enforcement, officers must avoid even the appearance of impropriety whenever possible.
As reported by Beth Clifton in her article entitled “Don’t Bully My Breed, But We Will Bully the Victims,” these demonstrators displayed “thoughtless solidarity, poor social judgment, and some of the cruelest behavior by fellow humans I have seen short of actual physical violence.” The animal control officer stood with them in this. That was just plain wrong, a monumental error in judgment, an insult to the community that the officer is sworn to protect.
In law, there is a saying: “the appearance of justice is as important as justice itself.” (Offutt v. United States (1954) 348 U.S. 11, 14 (U.S. Supreme Court).) This officer has damaged the appearance of justice by showing his or her bias. The results will damage Kent County in the future: the officer’s word will not be trusted in court and other legal proceedings, and significant numbers of residents will feel less safe as long as he or she remains on the job.
Kent County: fire this officer!