About 40 years ago, I was almost hired by the Mesa Police Department. I passed everything except vision without my glasses, which was enough to keep me off the force. I’ve had family members and friends who served in law enforcement and have always been supportive of police in general.
However, I’m slowly losing my support and respect for police when I see report after report of corrupt cops. One of the latest reports of corrupt cops comes out of Hidalgo County, New Mexico. Population wise, Hidalgo County, located in the southwest corner of the state bordering Arizona and Mexico, there are only about 5,000 in the entire county. Nearly 3,400 of the county residents live in the county seat of Lordsburg. The small population means that the county government does not bring in a lot of revenue.
So I can’t help but wonder if members of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department have been attempting to increase county revenue by less than ethical or legal means?
Tim Young is a Hidalgo resident, married and a father of three stopped at a convenience store back in 2012. Deputy Javier Peru approached Young and without probable cause, asked Young for permission to search his truck, which Young readily gave since he had nothing to hide.
Peru spent two hours searching Young’s truck and found nothing, so he called in the department’s canine unit. The dog didn’t find anything either, but the canine handler said that the dog hit on the driver’s seat of the truck. Since no drugs were found, Young was accused of hiding them in his anal cavity, so they handcuffed him and took him to a hospital an hour away. The hospital is in the neighboring county which meant that the deputies had no jurisdiction nor was their search warrant valid.
At the hospital, Young was forced to have x-rays which turned up nothing. Then he was forced to undergo a rectal exam which again turned up nothing. After being detained for a number of hours and undergoing the humiliation of a rectal exam, Young was finally released. Young thought his ordeal was finally over, but days later he received a bill from the hospital for $614 for services the deputy forced him to undergo.
You may think this was just a single incident of an overzealous deputy, but you would be wrong. A few weeks later, 63 year old David Eckart went through the same thing at the hands of the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department. Eckart was detained, searched, canine dog brought in and nothing was found, but the canine handler insisted the dog hit on the driver’s seat. Eckart was also handcuffed and taken to the same out of county hospital where he not only was forced to have x-rays taken but underwent two mandated anal exams and three enemas followed by a complete colonoscopy. Nothing was found and Eckart was eventually released after 14 hours of torture. Like Young, days later he received a bill from the hospital for $4,539.
Both men filed lawsuits against the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department. During the proceedings, it was discovered that Leo, the supposed drug dog, was not a certified drug dog. Last week, Young and Eckart were paid $2 million to settle their lawsuits. You would expect that the deputies involved would have faced some sort of discipline for their actions, but they haven’t. They are allowed to continue patrolling as they have before.
Nothing has been said about any connection between the hospital and Hidalgo County, but I can’t help but wonder if the hospital was planning on paying the county a kickback from the billing of the victims. Why else would the deputies and canine unit go to such measures to harass law abiding citizens and force them to undergo such humiliating and degrading procedures?
It’s law enforcement officers and departments like this that give all law enforcement a bad name and causes people to no longer trust them. It reminds me of all of the reports of corrupt cops 100 years ago and in the days of prohibition. If you can’t trust the police, who can you trust?