In their defense, we know most Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers work hard, do their job well and deserve the respect of those they serve and protect. But respect is earned, and several matters involving troopers this summer are making that respect more difficult to give. In June, a jury acquitted a trooper who was accused of assaulting a baseball coach in 2008 while off duty. That’s where the good news ends, because shortly after video surfaced of an altercation between a different trooper and a paramedic. Then in the past week have come news reports about troopers getting paid for time they didn’t work over a two-month period, and questions over whether a special unit of troopers is unjustly targeting out-of-state drivers. Video of the trooper-paramedic scuffle during a traffic stop was widely viewed on television and the Internet. Trooper Daniel Martin was suspended for five days for "conduct unbecoming an officer.” The punishment struck many, including the driver of the ambulance that was the subject to the traffic stop, as too light. The paramedic has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit and accused the trooper of using unnecessary force. The light punishment accusation came up again when The Oklahoman’s Ann Kelley revealed three troopers were punished in May for falsifying time logs and being paid for work they didn’t do while on security detail at the governor’s mansion. One trooper received a six-day suspension; another was suspended for three days. The third trooper was disciplined but a patrol spokesman didn’t elaborate. Questions about traffic stops by the patrol’s Special Operations Troops revolve around whether the troopers are unfairly targeting cars with out-of-state tags as potential drug couriers. The Tulsa World found that the vast majority of motorists pulled over don’t even receive a traffic citation. Oklahomans have every right to hold troopers to a high standard of behavior and to expect severe punishment when their behavior falls short. So it’s especially frustrating in the case of the troopers on security detail who blatantly padded their hours that they weren’t even required to pay back the money they didn’t earn. By the way, that was taxpayer money they helped themselves to when they cut out early, or in the case of one trooper, made a Walmart run. The public needs its law enforcement officers to be trustworthy and avoid even the perception of impropriety. Even a few bad actors coupled with soft punishments can endanger that trust. Eroding that trust with questionable and poor decision-making only serves to make an already demanding and dangerous job more difficult for those many troopers who take their jobs and responsibilities seriously.