The Maine State Police have a problem. One of their own officers was stopped for and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, but that’s not it.

Police officers are human beings and are subject to the same lapses in judgment as the rest of us. When someone puts the driving public at risk by getting behind the wheel after having had too much to drink, they should be subject to the full penalties laid out in state law, and so far, it appears that is what is happening in the case of Sgt. Robin Parker. No one wants to see his life ruined by one bad choice, but a drunken driver can easily ruin innocent people’s lives — and no one knows that better than a law enforcement officer who patrols the roads.

The problem for the department is one of perception, and it will be difficult to address. Parker wrote a letter to his colleagues after his stop, taking full responsibility for his actions and supporting the officers who stopped him, defending them from criticism that might come from fellow officers who would have liked to see special treatment for a trooper.

Whether Parker is right or not about the sentiment, the idea that some cops think they shouldn’t enforce the laws against other cops exists, at least in his mind. It also exists in the public’s, and the challenge is going to be for the state police hierarchy to be as thorough and transparent with this investigation as it can be to show that there will be no special treatment here.

That means releasing information about the stop and Parker’s condition at the time of his arrest. Any hesitancy or defensiveness would feed the notion that police officers get special treatment. At times, that may look as if Parker is being treated more harshly than other members of the public, but that is necessary to maintain respect for law enforcement.

Police officers, like politicians, judges and other high-profile public servants, have a responsibility to uphold the law. They shouldn’t be held to a lower standard than the rest of the public, but a higher one. Sgt. Parker recognizes his responsibility. It is time for his superiors to live up to theirs.