Editorials

It’s a good time for a new look at ethics code

Former Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead’s actions on behalf of Taser International last year have prompted Mayor Betsy Price to advocate a review of city ethics policies.

That’s a good idea. Price says Halstead “followed proper channels” in urging the city to buy 400 body cameras and related services from Taser and then traveling at the company’s expense to meetings where he spoke on behalf of its products.

Halstead, who retired in January after six years as chief, was named in Associated Press reports this week that focused on “cozy relationships” between Taser and police chiefs.

There’s no indication that Halstead received payment other than reimbursement for airfare and lodging.

That’s important, because the city ethics code says officials must not accept “any benefit” that might “reasonably tend to influence” them in the discharge of city duties.

The crucial definition of benefit is anything “reasonably regarded as pecuniary gain,” meaning financial gain.

In other words, if all Halstead did was break even on the trips, with no monetary gain, there was no violation of current standards.

“The trips he took were certainly legal,” Price said, “but we need to look if you should take trips with current vendors.”

At the very least, ruling out such trips would make things less awkward.

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