Accused of harassment and assault, these police officers moved to new jobs with clean records. Rachel Chason/The Washington Post interviewed Distinguished University Professor Lawrence Sherman for his expertise on small police departments.

A Mount Ranier police department records clerk alleged sexual harassment and assault against 3 officers, all of which was found to be credible after investigation. Experts say the clerk’s story offers a window into the challenges of proving officer misconduct, especially within small police departments, and the ease with which accused officers can move from one minimally staffed agency to another.

Nationwide, 73 percent of police departments employed fewer than 25 full-time staff members in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available. They struggle to provide due process and fairness to those alleging misconduct, said Sherman, partly because everyone knows each other and partly because vacancies are hard to fill.

The Mount Rainier Police Department. (Rachel Chason/The Washington Post)