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Cop Watch: Two Independent Incidents of Local Cops Facing Assault Charges, Are Our Cops Dangerous?

While it may be the fodder for many a TV cop show, it’s also the basis of many an academic research study:  the behavior of police officers both on and off duty, and how their unique psychological situations may make them more prone to violent behavior.  Last week, we had two cops making the news for their off-hours exploits – misplaced aggression that put them over the line.

First, a Dallas cop was arrested last week over in Duncanville for misdemeanor assault based upon family violence.  This female police officer was allegedly involved in a domestic dispute with her husband and the Duncanville police not only were sent to her home, but arrested her for an assault charge that could carry one year’s imprisonment and a $4000 fine if she is convicted.  According to media reports, her husband had visible injuries and the arrest occurred only after both husband and wife were interviewed.  Officer Barbara Ann Chandler remains on the job with the Dallas Police Department as these charges progress in Duncanville; however, she’s on desk duty. 

Second, former Dallas cop Randy Anderson just get sentenced to 45 days in jail with 4 years probation (deferred adjudication) and a $1500 fine for an event that occured back in December 2007 involving country music singer Steve Holy.  A Dallas police officer at the time, Anderson was off duty and allegedly drinking with fellow off duty cop Paul Loughridge when things got messy.  (Loughridge is still awaiting trial.)  Seems Anderson, Holy, and some others were drinking festive beverages at Holy’s home after meeting up at a nearby bar, according to media reports, when Anderson demanded identification from Holy – who didn’t readily comply – resulting in Anderson drawing his weapon and pointing his gun at Holy.  Anderson was convicted for aggravated assault.  (Randy Anderson’s employment with the Dallas Police Department was terminated after the incident. )

This two stories are just from last week … but what are they telling us about off-duty cops being dangerous?

The domestic violence story regarding Dallas Police Officer Barbara Ann Chandler and the aggravated assault conviction of former Dallas cop Randy Anderson should be a rarity, right?  But they’re not. 

Cops themselves recognize the murkiness of that line between on-duty and off-duty behavior (see e.g., “12 Rules for Off Duty Conduct” by Lindsey Bertomen“) and law enforcement organizations study “…the impossible mandate of police work in a free society,” (see The Challenge of Selecting Tomorrow’s Police Officers from Generations X and Y by Francis McCafferty, M.D. in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law). 

Do a quick Google search for “off duty cops dangerous” and read story after story in this country about police officers being very, very dangerous on their off-time. 

Perhaps the question isn’t if Dallas cops are dangerous, but if all cops that are off-duty should be considered powder kegs?  Imagine the wife of the Texas police chief who Tasered her at home last April would say “yes” to that question ….

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