Police

Houston Police Officer Charged With Shoplifting Ammo, Still Has a Job

Was only on the force two months before being caught allegedly stealing ammo, and won't be disciplined until the internal investigation's over.

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HPD

Stephen Sargent, an officer with the Houston Police Department (HPD) for less than three months and still considered probationary, was arrested on charges of shoplifting. He's accused of stealing $60 worth of ammunition from a sporting store.  He's been "relieved of duty" but remains employed by the HPD. In fact the department reportedly won't decide how to discipline him until after the internal investigation is complete.

Police officers are entrusted with the power of life and death; they're granted the privilege of using force on behalf of the government and, through that status as government employees granted protections for when they abuse their powers.  Rarely are police officers held accountable for their use of force in questionable circumstances. And even when victims of police brutality win settlements from the police department or city government, such settlements don't affect the police officers. Often they come with specific denials of responsibility for any wrongdoing.

When a police officer has shot and killed someone under questionable circumstances,  even a fair and thorough investigation that might lead to charges won't bring back the dead. Neither can any social movement or hashtag do so, nor does it have the ability to definitively prevent future killings. And the more the problem of police violence is personalized, the harder it is to combat.

If he remains on the force will Sargent ever kill someone in the line of duty? It's impossible to say. But getting caught shoplifting ammo suggests an incredible defect of character, and when the privilege to use deadly force with little accountability hangs in the balance, a zero tolerance approach to bad behavior by cops saves lives and helps ensure we can all get home safe at night.

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  1. In the grand tradition of Steven Segal… he is ABOVE THE LAW!

    1. I prefer the tradition of Judge Dredd. “I AM … THE LAW

      1. It’s Eric Holder’s fault. We can’t afford ammo because he stopped asset forfeiture.

  2. If an ordinary citizen did that, they’d have trouble getting a decent job 20 years later, yet this low life is still employed in a job of public trust. Well, the public has now lost that trust and shit like this is why. And worse, if he’d went out and shot someone dead with the stolen ammo, there still wouldn’t be any consequences.

    1. BTW, that is one punchable face if I’ve ever seen one.

      1. Don’t lock eyes with ’em, don’t do it.

      2. Hyperion, let this attempt to scratch that itch.

  3. “He’s *accused* of stealing $60 worth of ammunition from a sporting store. He’s been “relieved of duty” but remains employed by the HPD. In fact the department reportedly won’t decide how to discipline him until after the internal investigation is complete.”

    Wow, the horrors of due process.

    1. Due process doesn’t include an ” internal investigation ” taking the place of a criminal trial, dumbfuck.

      1. Being “accused” but not convicted does, though.

        Way to go right to name-calling, though. You’re a peach.

    2. Out here on the road to serfdom, this would get one of two responses:

      (1) Fired. That day.

      (2) Suspended without pay pending a brief investigation that we could somehow manage to wrap up in a few days.

      Its incredible to me how long these police department internal investigations take. Seriously, they take months and months to investigate something that we could wrap up in a week. And we’re not even professional investigators with a large staff to put on it.

      Pathetic.

      1. Well, if you don’t take forever, how are you going to sweep it all under the rug and continue employing the guy?

      2. They take so long on purpose. They want the public to lose interest and hopefully forget about it so there’s no outrage when he’s cleared months later. That’s why they get suspended with pay, because they’re going to be suspended for a while.

        It’s all part of the scam, dude.

        1. As scams go, this one is a doozie.

      3. The internal investigation will finish after his probationary status expires.

    3. Maybe the next time a kid is accused of stealing some cigars in Missouri, his friends and family can conduct an internal investigation.

    4. Wow, the horrors of due process.

      As a humble peasant without access to such luxuries, I can only imagine.

  4. He can’t be fired until he gets promoted to Sargeant by an IBM Machine with a sense of humor.

    1. +.22

      1. I caught what you did there.

  5. HPD will decide what disciplinary action to take after an internal affairs investiagtion can be completed

    With all due respect, young Stephen has not been *convicted* of anything. Maybe he was an actor in a sting operation and wasn’t really shopliHAHAHAHAA!! Damn, couldn’t quite get it out!

    1. That was a good try, though!

  6. All too often we treat arrested as being the same as guilty. They most assuredy are not.

    An employer taking measured action and not being hasty is not the end of the world. Let them do their investigation and compare their decision to the evidence. And if it turns out that he is getting special treatment *then* ream their asses.

    1. Ass reaming now, investigation later!

      1. Arrest zem, shoot zem, zen question zem!

        1. Shift! Shift! Shift!

    2. He’ll get special treatment, and nothing else will happen. We all know that, it’s a forgone conclusion.

      1. “Newbie mistake, son. We’ve all be there. Now, welcome to the force, and keep your nose as clean as you can.”

        1. *been*

          *** gets coffee ***

    3. An employer taking measured action and not being hasty is not the end of the world.

      See above re pace of investigation and severity of response. He’s already gotten more favorable treatment than somebody in the real world would. The only question is whether its extra-super special treatment, or hyper-mega special treatment.

      1. Whooooosh!

  7. Sixty bucks? What’s that, about three boxes of .40S&W?

    Yeah, yeah… innocent ’til proven guilty.

    “I’d hate to rush to judgement before all the facts are in, Mister President, but it’s beginning to look as if General Ripper may have exceeded his authority.”

    1. Dammit, LPB! You beat me by a minute!

    2. Fluids.

  8. $60 worth of ammo? In today’s market that’s what, one box of Speer Gold Dots?

  9. His face is just so small on his head.

    “I thought you was mad at me, George.”

    1. Kind of Barney Rubble-like in contemplative visage.

    2. “Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?”

  10. “That Barney Rubble; what an actor!”

    1. “Hello, this is Chuck to remind Bill to SHUT UP!”

    2. That’s a damned fine film.

  11. “Is this a great country, or WHAT?”

  12. a zero tolerance approach to bad behavior by cops saves lives and helps ensure we can all get home safe at night.

    I see what you did there…and I like.

  13. whoa. that IQ cap is real and it is low.

    1. No kidding. That guy might as well have “Concentration Camp Guard” tattooed on his forehead.

      1. “MAFIA ENFORCER”

        1. The only difference between a cop and a mafia enforcer is the employer. And enforcers dress better. And are smarter. And better educated. And more honest.

          Ah, shit. They’re nothing alike.

  14. http://i.imgur.com/v28Wv2F.gif

    Smartest cop on the force.

  15. That guy might as well have “Concentration Camp Guard” Arbeit Macht Frei tattooed on his forehead.

  16. How do you shoplift ammo?

    Don’t they usually keep it locked in a case or behind the counter?

  17. Don’t they usually keep it locked in a case or behind the counter?

    Up here (Montana), pretty much everybody but Walmart has their ammo on open shelves.
    YMMV

    1. Around here, it seems to depend on what it is. Shotgun shells with birdshot loads are almost always on the shelves, along with rimfire ammunition (when they have it). Everything else is behind the counter, just about every place I’ve ever gone to.

      1. Same here.

  18. I lost a job once because I was scheduled to go to court on a workday. Well, I wasn’t officially fired. They just hired someone to cover my shift. Permanently.

    This guy is probably getting paid overtime to go to court.

  19. He should have done it while on the clock and in uniform. Then what would the shop have done? Called the cops? And if they did he could have claimed to have done it in good faith, thus triggering his immunity from the law. Something he can’t get away with when committing crimes while not on the clock.

    1. Did you not see what happened to the kid who picked up the gun off the shelf in Walmart? Are you really so stupid that you’re just going to be openly carrying deadly ammunition around the store on your way to the checkout counter? No, this cop was being smart – he fully intended to pay for the ammunition and was in no way shoplifting, he just tucked the ammo into his pants as he headed to the register so as not to alarm anybody who might see him with the ammo in his hands.

      It is odd, however, that I’ve seen two different newspaper accounts and a TV report on this incident and no mention of how exactly the guy got caught. Did an employee see him make a furtive movement he mistook for shoplifting? Or is there security camera footage nobody is mentioning that should make any “investigation” a two-minute case? I’d bet there’s security cameras all over the place in an American Outfitters and I’d bet there’s security camera footage that would be rather difficult to refute.

      So, sure, due process and presumption of innocence and all that – but generally an arrest for shoplifting is a slam dunk. You either have merchandise tucked down your pants or you don’t.

  20. Look, the officer thought that the law permitted him to take whatever he wants – its a reasonable error of law and he shouldn’t be held responsible for this.

    If anything, the *store* should face charges for interfering with police business.

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  22. I don’t have a problem with due process. Was there any ambiguity about the facts? Was he caught on tape blatantly walking out the store without paying? Is it his word against a store employees’s?

    Lacking such details about the strength of the evidence against him, it is * possible * that a competent defense attorney is making a convincing enough case that the guy didn’t break the law that the internal affairs department is making sure they have all their ducks in a row.

    Not probable, given how cops usually get a free pass, but I’d like more details than were given in this article before yelling for his head.

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