The terrible twos have hit the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) hard over the past two weeks as they've fired two of their officers following two arrests resulting in the booking of two officers who are the same two officers that were fired over the past two weeks following two internal investigations. Officer Collin Merritt was fired on April 4th due to an internal investigation which was launched following his March 22nd arrest for domestic violence. Officer Tyler McBee was fired on April 11th due to an internal investigation which was launched following his April 9th arrest for drunk driving. This swift action by the GPD appears to be an example that other departments should follow.
Usually when we write about officers being arrested for drunk driving or domestic violence they are placed on leave pending the outcome of the case and an internal investigation. Often they are placed on paid leave which gives them an incentive to drag things out as long as possible while their bosses wait for the criminal case to be resolved before finishing their investigation. While we understand that the decision to fire somebody can be better justified after a criminal conviction, we also know that an independent investigation does not need to wait for a criminal case to conclude before issuing their findings. We see no reason why other departments cannot handle cases like this the way the GPD has handled it so far. It makes no sense to make taxpayers pay officers to remain on leave when investigators already know what they did. The investigators should look at the evidence and issue their own finding independent of court proceedings like they did in this case. If investigators conclude that they believe allegations against officers are true they should be fired right away just like most people in society would for the same conduct. If by some chance the officers end up being acquitted of the charges then of course they should be given their job back with back pay. However, if the case results in admissions to the conduct without convictions such as prosecutorial diversion for which charges are dismissed if treatment is completed then the terminations should stand.
This is what police accountability looks like.