The Darren Goforth Murder and Badge Bunnies
Mar. 4, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Back in the Stone Age when I was still a cop, it was well known that the uniform and the badge sometimes attracted the attention of the opposite gender, at least for the male officers. I didn’t notice that the female officers had the same issue, probably because of societal norms.
In any event, it was well known that male officers could and would attract the attention of certain females, known as badge bunnies, fender lizards, cop groupies, etcetera. Yes, there are groupies for police, but I’ll defer to what one of my first sergeants said when I was a rookie officer (paraphrasing a bit):
Son, that badge can get you a lot of women, but it will only take one woman to get your badge.
And that’s true. In over 20 years as a cop, I don’t know how many times I saw that play out, where officers lost their job and their career over badge bunnies.
I can remember several occasions where I was hit on, and I’m a fat slightly out of shape white guy who is at best (on a good day) average looking. The badge bunny is never subtle, and they always let the officer know that they will show the officer a very good time. Sometimes in graphic detail. I was always too scared of losing my badge to consider enjoying their charms, but others were not, and the bunnies weren’t always very choosy. Some kept score, trying to sleep with as many different officers as possible.
These women are all over the place, and if they get involved in something, something nasty generally hits the fan.
So as Murray Newman noted, in Houston, it has hit the fan. First, the deputy that was murdered may not have been on duty at the time, but may have been meeting up with his very own badge bunny. And if he’s not on duty, then there are those who say the State can’t execute the killer for murdering a cop. I’m not one of those, and firmly believe that even if Deputy Goforth was meeting his mistress, he was also in the “lawful discharge of his duties” at the time. As May v. State notes, that term is not defined in the Penal Code, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals* noted that the jury could use their “common sense” to determine if the officer was “discharging his duties” at the time.
I can very easily see a Texas jury deciding that when Goforth was gassing up his squad car, he was in the lawful discharge of his duties. And Harris County has sent more people to death row than any other place in the nation (and more than the top six non-Texas counties combined). But that’s a side story, not really germane to badge bunnies and police officers.
The other problem was that Goforth apparently wasn’t the only deputy who was chasing after this particular bunny. One of the best homicide investigators in Texas was fired for misconduct with the lady. Two other deputies also bit the dust, again, with the same woman.
Do you remember what my sergeant said?
One woman, four badges; including a dead deputy with his reputation trashed, and three others who no longer have a law enforcement career.
So why does this happen?
Some studies have been done on the subject, but these are by academics and do not really delve into police culture, other than as an exercise.
In my view it is relatively simple.
Police work has been a male-dominated profession, and there is a “boys will be boys” attitude that is only slowly dying out. I don’t know how the culture is now, but I know that when young, attractive females hit on young male cops in my day, a good number of the cops were not going to think. They were just going to take the lady up on her offer. Most got away with it. A few got caught and fired, but not many.
When you have a culture that allows this, you end up with the circus you have in Houston.
You have Sgt. Craig Clopton fired, after 24 years. Distinguished years until he let a woman get his badge.
Deputy Marc De Leon had a sexual relationship with the woman before Goforth was murdered, but it involved on-the-job sex, so he was fired.
Finally, you have a two-year deputy try to start a sexual relationship with her after he answered a call for service at her home, so he gets fired. Of the entire lot, he’s the one I feel sorry for, because he was just following the lead of other officers. He’s just learning the culture.
Now, if the shooter can be made competent to stand trial (which appears doubtful), he’s got an issue that would prevent him from getting the needle that he so richly deserves because of an apparent badge bunny and officers who can’t keep it zipped up in their pants.
*In Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals is the court of last resort for criminal cases, the Texas Supreme Court has no criminal jurisdiction.