PHOENIX (AP) - An Arizona lawmaker said Thursday he wasn’t trying to bend the truth when he incorrectly identified himself as a peace officer earlier this week.
Rep. Anthony Kern urged passage of police-related legislation Tuesday, telling a Republican caucus that he was endorsing the bill “as a certified police officer.” But Kern is not certified by the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, the Arizona Capitol Times reported (https://bit.ly/1FaxBvV ).
The Glendale Republican, 53, said he thought he was certified after graduating from the Glendale police academy in May 2014. “I think we’re talking technicalities here. I wouldn’t say I was a certified peace officer if I wasn’t a certified peace officer,” Kern said.
In a biography submitted to the newspaper, Kern describes himself as a certified peace officer who has worked for the city of El Mirage since 2005. Under previous employment, he lists work as a private investigator, Realtor, in construction and an unspecified position for the city of Phoenix.
But Kern signed a form in July 2013 upon entering the Glendale Law Academy that acknowledged graduation would not result in a state peace officer certification. According to the school’s website, students who are not sponsored by a police department don’t get certified after graduation. Kern did not have any sponsors.
Bill Richardson, a retired police officer who pens columns for a local newspaper on law enforcement issues, said Kern is misrepresenting himself. “The reality is he doesn’t have a gun, he doesn’t have a badge,” Richards said.
Kern said he wasn’t trying to misrepresent anything. “I don’t want to be incorrect in what I’m saying. If I am not a certified officer, then I do want to tell the truth. My integrity means a lot,” he said.
Kern is among the supporters of a proposal that would withhold names of police officers involved in a shooting for 90 days after the incident. The bill has received opposition from police chiefs and African-American leaders.
Kern said he genuinely believed he was a certified peace officer and that background would give him more weight when discussing law enforcement issues. However, he said always clarifies to people that he is not employed as a police officer. The lawmaker said he understands that he cannot carry out police actions or duties.
Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, https://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com
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