It's good that Richard Hefferon, the Nassau County cop who brandished a loaded pistol while drinking at a Farmingdale bar more than two years ago, is getting some help with his issues. That willingness, though, doesn't change the fact that he shouldn't be allowed to be a police officer anymore.
Hefferon pleaded guilty last week to second-degree menacing, a misdemeanor. The 48-year-old officer was off duty, drinking in the South Main Street Pub, when he drew his loaded service weapon and aimed it at the head of a bar employee. The incident was captured on the bar's security videotape and Hefferon was charged with reckless endangerment before pleading to the lesser charge.
He is not expected to get jail time when he is sentenced in October. So far, he is still a cop. State law allows officers charged with crimes to be immediately suspended for 30 days without pay at the time of the incident, but no further action can be taken until the disciplinary process has run its course. Hefferon has returned to work on modified duty, meaning he has not carried a service weapon since the incident.
When a cop is charged with a crime, it's common to let the legal process play out before completing the internal disciplinary process. This makes sense; it's easier to determine a fair punishment once it's known whether the officer is convicted. Hefferon admitted to a scary crime: terrifying a civilian with a dangerous weapon. Hefferon's lawyer says the officer has undergone extensive alcohol treatment and "turned his life around." Hopefully that is the case. But regardless, he should no longer be allowed to wear a badge.
He showed terrible judgment. He committed a crime with a loaded gun. The risks are just too high to give him another chance.