Why do some boys in blue go bad?

It seems to be a growing problem: men and women in law enforcement getting into legal hot water.

Within the last couple of years the heartland has seen a number of officers finding themselves on the wrong side of the law:

  • Gallatin County Sheriff Raymond Martin: sentenced to life in federal prison on drug trafficking and murder for hire charges
  • Saline County Chief Deputy Todd Fort: charged sexual assault for allegedly having sex with an underage girl
  • Carbondale Police officer James Gaddis: charged with bank robbery
  • Carter County Sheriff Tommy Adams: facing meth charges
  • Fredericktown Police captain Kenneth Tomlinson, II: received three consecutive life sentences after pleading guilty to 22 charges of sexual abuse.
  • Pulaski County Sheriff's Deputy Tara Kern: accused of giving firearms to her husband, who is a convicted felon.

So do some officers end up on the wrong side of the law?

"It's like everything else - people get greedy," said Johnson County Sheriff Elry Faulkner.

Faulkner says low pay in small departments - both police and sheriff's departments may contribute to the problem.

A starting deputy in Johnson County makes about $10 an hour. Faulkner says that's why in some smaller departments, the temptation becomes that much greater to bend or break the rules to get ahead.

That's why the sheriff says if he detects a hint that one of his deputies is dishonest, they don't work for him very long. He says his strict policy has kept his department out of the headlines for misbehaving officers.

Sheriff Faulkner says it's also becoming harder to recruit good, honest, hard working officers for $21,000 a year when according to the Illinois State Police Merit Board, an Illinois State Trooper fresh out of the academy starts at $54,904 a year.

"With our starting pay you can make that working in a fast food restaurant," Faulkner said. "And you don't' have to worry about getting shot."

But no matter the pay scale, the sheriff says when boys in blue turn bad it casts a negative shadow over all those who wear the uniform.

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