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In a piece in the Arizona Republic, Clarence Dupnik proves why he has no business being Pima County’s top cop any longer.
Dupnik discusses how he heard about the tragedy in Tuscon. The piece points out that Dupnik has been friends with the Giffords’ family for years, that the shooting had him feeling sad and in shock, eventually becoming angry. All of these emotions, even the anger, are quite understandable when someone learns a friend has been harmed, especially by a deranged gunman like Jared Loughner. Problem is, Dupnik let the anger get the better of him and he threw all his professionalism out the window as soon as he gave his first press conference. Instead of reflecting on his actions, Dupnik has doubled-down, telling the Republic, “I decided to say what I was feeling.” Later on in the piece:
He added, “I’m 75 years old. Thirty years sheriff, 52 years a cop. Maybe I’ve earned the right to speak my mind.”
No it isn’t. Not when you’re the top cop whose office is required to investigate the facts in a murder case. Because it will be the facts that determines Loughner’s guilt or innocence, not innuendo or unsubstantiated hearsay. Anything less taints the fair trial that is required for Loughner, a process Dupnik is a part of whether he likes it or not. I understand that Giffords is his friend, and I sympathize, but his job is to make sure his office completes their work properly. It is often the case that our jobs require us to put our personal feelings aside; when we don’t, there could be some very negative unintended consequences. This is especially true for someone who’s been a cop for 52 years and a sheriff for 30 years.
It’s one thing for someone like RFK, Jr. to shamefully exploit this tragedy and his uncle’s assassination, but not for a law enforcement official who is in the middle of a murder investigation. We’ve seen too much of that with Attorney General Eric Holder, Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle, and disgraced North Carolina prosecutor Mike Nifong. Unless Dupnik wants to join this rogue’s gallery of political hacks, it would be in Dupnik’s interest to keep his mouth shut or quit.