The Sheriff’s Office is investigating one of its own veterans for some serious allegations, one involving rape, and should remain as open as legally possible as the probe of Sgt. Mike Rodrigues continues.
Sheriff Curtis Hill chose to have the Sheriff’s Office investigate allegations – as opposed to requesting an outside agency’s help – that Rodrigues committed rape and intimidation of a victim or witness and that he twice violated a restraining order.
Hill’s reasoning was simple: The suspected crimes happened in the office’s geographical jurisdiction.
We trust that Sheriff’s Office investigators will conduct as thorough of a probe in this case as they would with anyone else suspected of a such a heinous crime. What it means with sheriff’s deputies investigating one of their peers is that department officials – namely, Hill – must communicate with the public as transparently as possible without compromising the probe or Rodrigues’ rights.
Rodrigues, after all, hasn’t been charged with any crimes and hasn’t even been arrested.
He has, however, done something warranting Hill to inform Rodrigues the office intends to fire the 25-year veteran; Rodrigues is entitled to a hearing, to explain his side, before a possible termination. Hill attributed further silence, regarding cause for termination, to peace officer privacy laws.
There certainly have been plenty of warning signs in the past few months to more than demand a serious examination of Rodrigues’ ability to live up to expected standards for law enforcement authorities and keep his job. Now there seems to be enough evidence that he hasn’t met those standards.
He had his 11-year-old daughter in his patrol car in June when he found himself in a confrontation with a drugged suspect whom he ultimately shot. Divorce court testimony from his wife alleged he threatened to kill himself in front of that daughter. A restraining order accused him of threatening to kill his wife and “scrape her dead body off the road.”
On top of the Sheriff’s Office probe, Hill also revealed Thursday that a second investigation of allegations against Rodrigues by Hollister police also involves a rape accusation.
The same logic – as in, the warning signs are apparent – transcends the criminal investigations. We need the same type of bulldog questioning, thoughtful probing of witnesses and thorough analysis of any other evidence as authorities would follow in other similar, serious cases.
The public must hear from Hill as often as possible as this investigation unravels so that trust is maintained among residents. It’s not that there’s a likelihood for a faulty probe. It’s that the public demands the utmost confidence in the office and a perception of pure impartiality.
Hill’s reputation depends on it.
And now that Rodrigues has found himself facing these allegations in the public eye, he deserves the same openness so he has every chance along the way to clear his name if he’s cleared of the accusations.