- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The New Mexico State Police officer whose name has now come to light as Bert Lopez exhibited tremendously poor judgment by having sex with a woman on the hood of a car while in uniform (and perhaps even on duty). This action, caught on surveillance tape, is unethical and totally inappropriate. However, the New Mexico State Police should not be unilaterally judged based on the pathetic actions of this officer.

Officer Lopez’s behavior is not a reflection on his colleagues within his agency, nor is it a reflection on law enforcement officers across the nation who, on a daily basis, conduct themselves in a professional and honorable fashion and continually put their lives on the line for the safety of all citizens.

Though Officer Lopez was named “Officer of the Year” in 2010 for some apparent heroic action, he threw his reputation, honor and any common sense he may have heretofore possessed down the tubes. In recent days, he was fired from his job - and rightly so.

Officer Lopez’s conduct while in uniform and in a remote public setting cannot be explained away, nor should it be. As an officer of the law, he is supposed to hold himself to the highest standards of conduct, ethics, legality and responsibility.

The unfortunate end of his eight-year career is a tragedy of his own doing, and his actions are ones for which he should be held fully accountable. Though he has an appeal process that affords him the opportunity to attempt to get his job back, anyone involved in the decision-making process would be well-served to see that he is, once and for all, banned from ever returning to his position with the New Mexico State Police.

KAREN L. BUNE

Adjunct professor

Department of Criminology, Law and Society

George Mason University

Fairfax, Va.