Time for protections for taxpayers?

The Las Vegas joyride that three police officers took in 2010 in a department-issued car continues to languish — and all we can think is, when will this hangover end?

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge this week agreed to review the disciplinary action handed down in response to the Dec. 27, 2010 incident. Two officers were fired, but the third was spared by the Civil Service Commission, albeit with a 90-day suspension and demotion.

They contend their punishment was unfair, and that the internal investigation violated protections they have under the Public Safety Officers Bill of Rights — specifically, that they initially were interviewed without the presence of an attorney.

But at this point, the so-called prank has been well documented in court and investigative records. When the officers arrived in Vegas, they took photographs in front of the car and the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. As if that wasn’t enough, they were pulled over twice by the same state trooper for speeding — all while on the clock.

As the officer who escaped with his job told investigators, it was a “stupid mistake.” Certainly, in the private sector, it would have been an open-and-shut termination, but more than a year later, we’re still mired in an employment dispute. Frankly, it’s beginning to border on the ridiculous.

We understand that police officers often need legal protection above that of the civilian population, given the dangers they face and the situations their job compels them to deal with.

But when cases like these become a costly drag on public resources, we have to wonder when protections start kicking in for taxpayers.

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