Members of law enforcement are entrusted with the necessary and often dangerous responsibility of protecting and serving our communities, and they are deserving of our respect.

Because of the immense level of trust placed in our law enforcement officers, we are outraged when an officer breaks the law or abuses his authority.

Such was the case with Madison County Sheriff’s deputy Shane Partlow, who resigned in March after being disciplined at least five times and suspended without pay for 45 days over the past decade.

Sheriff Scott Mellinger did the right thing by moving to fire Partlow in 2018 before the deputy resigned. But it's distressing that Partlow was allowed to wear his badge for 23 years, through four different sheriff's administrations, before he was removed from the department.

There is no doubt that Partlow performed some praiseworthy acts of service during his time with the department, such as saving a woman’s life in October 2018.

But when bad conduct happens behind the badge, it casts a shadow over the good work done by the officer in question, and rightly so.

Partlow’s disciplinary record, as well as a slew of other allegations, paint a disturbing picture of his behavior. He's been accused of soliciting sexual favors from women in exchange for dismissal of traffic tickets, asking women to send him nude photos and threatening to “take down” the defendant in a domestic violence case he was investigating.

He also stored nude photos, including one of his own genitals taken while in uniform and on duty, on a sheriff's department laptop, according to a departmental disciplinary report.

Any one of these transgressions seems like grounds for dismissal from the department.

Under threat of termination last year, Partlow resigned with full retirement benefits. While his law enforcement career is over (we hope), the consequences do not rise to the level of the offenses.

Partlow’s record shows a pattern of predatory behavior toward women and general abuse of his authority as a deputy. The people of Madison County deserve to feel safe in the presence of those who are sworn to serve and protect them.

When an officer abuses his authority repeatedly, action should be swift and decisive to remove him from the force. A clear message should be sent to the community that such conduct will not be tolerated.

More online

To read a related news report, search for "Shane Partlow" at heraldbulletin.com.