In a yearlong investigation it calls "jolting," the AP takes a look at instances of sexual misconduct among the nation's law enforcement and finds at least 1,000 police officers who lost their badges over a period of six years for offenses ranging from rape and sex assault to possessing child porn and having sex on the job. That number might not seem high in the context of the hundreds of thousands of officers who police the nation, but the AP notes that it's definitely a low figure—California and New York, for example, didn't cough up records because neither state has a system to yank badges for such misconduct, while other states reported zero instances despite media reports to the contrary. "It's happening probably in every law enforcement agency across the country," says the Sarasota police chief who studied the issue for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. "It's so underreported and people are scared that if they call and complain about a police officer, they think every other police officer is going to be then out to get them."
If underreporting and record-keeping are problematic, so, too, is a system that's often lenient on those familiar with it. "It starts with the officer denying the allegations—'she's crazy,' 'she's lying,'" says a counselor. "And the other officers say they didn't see anything, they didn't hear anything." The AP highlights the case of Oklahoma City officer Daniel Holtzclaw, who is accused of pulling over a 50-something woman on a bogus traffic stop and forcing her to perform oral sex at gunpoint. She's one of 13 accusers—including a 17-year-old girl who says Holtzclaw raped her on her mother's front porch. "I didn't know what to do," she testified. "Like, what am I going to do? Call the cops? He was a cop." Holtzclaw faces 36 counts including rape and forcible oral sodomy at his trial Monday. Here's a state-by-state breakdown, a list of recent high-profile cases, and the investigation by the numbers. The entire piece is worth a read. (Read more sexual assault stories.)