I feel compelled to write about why I write about police misconduct, and prosecutorial misconduct. Believe it or not, I care about what you think. More importantly, I have friends who are police officers and family members who are police officers, and I care about what they think.
The public wants to believe that there is no systemic police misconduct. It is always an isolated incident. We want to believe that police officers are a special breed of honest, ethical, and upstanding human. We need to believe that, because we want to feel safe. We want to feel that our trust in public officials is not misguided. I write about police misconduct because I’ve been on the front lines and I’ve seen that it isn’t always so. Police officers are human – sometimes they lie, they cheat, they hurt other people and they abuse the power that we give them. When they shine, they really shine. But when the evil side of human nature comes through, it is twice as ugly because of the authority that police are vested with.
I don’t hate police officers. I have an incredible amount of respect for any person who goes into law enforcement, risking their life and their health in the interest of keeping the rest of us safe, usually for low wages and little reward. Criminal defense and law enforcement are two sides of the same coin – both sides’ goals are to enforce the laws and constitution of our state and nation, and to protect the citizens of our state and nation. Both sides are needed to accomplish these goals and to keep the balance. On both sides, we need advocates who go into their professions for the right reasons, not people who are just doing a job and drawing a paycheck.
I want you to do your job and to do it well. But, if you are lying under oath, losing your temper and hurting people on the street, or using your authority for personal gain, you are not doing your job – you’re just an asshole with a badge. There are not many things more frightening than an unethical human being who is out to help themselves with a badge and a loaded gun.
If you actually read the blog posts that I write, you would see that I am not bashing police officers or law enforcement. I express my opinion about departmental policies such as when to chase a suspect – an important issue that needs to be discussed because it has a tremendous impact not just on the lives of motorists but of police officers as well. I blog about abundant specific examples of officers who commit crimes – another important issue that reflects on the leadership and policies of specific police departments. I don’t usually blog about warm fuzzy cop stories – it doesn’t mean I don’t see those and appreciate them, they just don’t typically have a place here.
If you are a cop, and you are not lying under oath, beating your wife, tampering with evidence, beating suspects while they are handcuffed, driving drunk, or arresting people who have not committed a crime, I am probably not complaining about you.
The same is true about prosecutorial misconduct. I have to say that locally there are some of the most ethical and conscientious prosecutors that I could ever hope for, and I am grateful for them. There are also a few that have proven they are not trustworthy, and that they will cheat to get results. Unfortunately, the job attracts both types.
I’m going to continue to write about police misconduct and prosecutorial misconduct, because I don’t see anyone else doing it. If no one writes about it, if no one points it out, the public will continue to believe that it doesn’t exist. Lawyers don’t want to “rock the boat.” Some are afraid, some are too political, and some just don’t care. Sometimes, our job is to rock the boat. Sometimes, if it’s necessary to make positive changes, it’s our job to sink the boat.