A recent opinion piece in the New York Times deals with the question, “Are police officers honest?” It is a fascinating and well researched piece:
THOUSANDS of people plead guilty to crimes every year in the United States because they know that the odds of a jury’s believing their word over a police officer’s are slim to none. As a juror, whom are you likely to believe: the alleged criminal in an orange jumpsuit or two well-groomed police officers in uniforms who just swore to God they’re telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but? As one of my colleagues recently put it, “Everyone knows you have to be crazy to accuse the police of lying.”
That may sound harsh, but numerous law enforcement officials have put the matter more bluntly. Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, wrote an article in The San Francisco Chronicle decrying a police culture that treats lying as the norm: “Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath. It is a perversion of the American justice system that strikes directly at the rule of law. Yet it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”
The author goes on to point on that one of the main reasons behind this lying is the incentivization of law enforcement. Police officers who make more arrests and more convictions are given awards and chosen for overtime duties. They get promotions and recognition. A good example of this is Lisa Steed of Utah. She was awarded the 2007 Trooper of the Year award for making over 200 DUI arrests. But she lied. She was later fired for falsifying evidence and downright lying.
This kind of dishonesty happens all over the country and will continue to happen because police officers are rewarded for it.
Just another example of Policing for Profit!