Why Are There So Many Troubled Cops in McFarland's Police Department?

Where do police officers go when scandal makes current employment untenable? Many of them join the McFarland PD.

That’s according to an analysis conducted by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley and reported on here by the Sacramento Bee. It found an unusual number of McFarland officers with troubled pasts.

They hired a cop investigated in an FBI child porn probe, and another caught up in an LAPD burglary ring. They gave a job to an officer who filed a bogus insurance claim for a car his friends dumped in Mexico. And they brought in a cop with a conviction for pulling a gun on his stepdaughter’s friends.

16 officers — one in five of the city’s cops — have been fired, sued, or convicted of a crime. After Banning’s police chief, Leonard Purvis, cleaned house and fired 10 troubled officers, 8 of them wound up in McFarland.

It was Purvis who then took the unusual step of calling for an investigation of another city’s police department. He called the mass hiring of wayward officers in McFarland “disgusting.” In letters to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, he described McFarland PD as “a rogue agency, employing officers who should never wear a badge again and be entrusted with peace officer powers.”

Some of the fault lies with the state, according to the Bee.

The state doesn’t flag disgraced officers to potential employers or revoke their badges. Instead, it’s up to local police chiefs to decide when a candidate is too tainted to hire. And some, like McFarland, set the bar extraordinarily low.

They say everyone deserves a second chance. But not every do-over should come with a gun and badge.