The police officers caught playing Wii Bowling during a drug bust in March have been given a rap across the knuckles for their errant behavior.
The story of the Polk County Sheriff Department officers who were caught playing Wii Bowling during a raid on a suspected drug dealer's house quickly made national headlines. Officers racked up about an hour of total playing time during the course of the search, which, unfortunately for them, was caught on video thanks to a motion-sensing camera hooked up to the suspect's computer.
While the behavior was obviously inappropriate, the real worry was the potential impact it could have on the case. Defense attorney Rick Escobar suggested that the officers had "effectively seized" the console, thus rendering the search illegal. "Clearly if they're using it, they've seized it and for totally improper purposes, because it's for entertainment. Investigations are not for entertainment," he said.
Luckily, the case appears to be unharmed by the impromptu gaming session, which no doubt factored into the relatively light discipline handed out to the officers involved. The investigation conducted by the Polk County Sheriff's Office found 11 members of the task force involved in the bust to be at fault, including three sheriff's sergeants, three sheriff's detectives, one deputy on temporary assignment and four detectives from various area police agencies. The undercover detectives received letters of retraining and are required to take two hours of retraining, while the supervising sergeants involved were given letters of guidance and must undergo four hours of retraining.
"We are learning from our mistakes," said Polk County Sheriff Chief of Staff Gary Hester. "I'm absolutely convinced these folks will never do that again. I think we handled [the investigation] appropriately."
The officers in question admitted their involvement and expressed remorse, Hester added. "We told them we were disappointed in what they did," he said. "They were all remorseful, upset with themselves, apologetic and took full responsibility."
It's not exactly forty lashes, no, but we're not talking about the crime of the century here either. These guys weren't executing drug dealers and dumping their bodies into a lake so they could assert control of the heroin trade for themselves. In the grand scheme of things, this was a minor transgression; a little more serious than every-day goofing off on the job, maybe, but certainly not worth ending someone's career.