In a recent piece in AdvocateDaily.com I was paraphrased as saying “While the vast majority of criminal cases are investigated and prosecuted with integrity, there ought to be significant consequences for those police officers who are dishonest in court”.
The full title (with link) is “Officer honesty questioned in two cases“.
The writer quite correctly reflected what I had said about the vast majority of cases being investigated with integrity. To elaborate on that, the fact of most cases being above-board is self-evident in the fact that the overwhelming majority of cases are settled with a guilty plea by the accused. This does not mean police do a great job ever time. It may simply reflect that the vast majority of investigations effectively conduct themselves (shoplifting where store security does the policing up front, assaults where the victim knows the attacker’s name and address, impaired driving roadblocks where police are able to nobly shoot fish in a bucket in the name of public safety). Put simply, in the vast majority of cases, the accused agrees in Court with what the police allege. The integrity of the investigation and prosecution are admitted by the person with the most to lose.
Its what happens in the margins that is more interesting. My quoted comments came after yet two more cases were thrown out by judges who found that officers were dishonest in court about violating a citizen’s Charter rights to obtain evidence illegally, including:
“…what all of these cases point out to me is the question of why any officer would do something like this in the first place unless they were pretty sure they would get away with it,” he says.
Clark says if officers who are dishonest in court are not held accountable for their actions, then this “is almost a full explanation of why an officer would do it again.”
These comments might also beg the question of whether I would agree that the vast majority of police officers conduct themselves at all times with integrity. All I can say is that Police are human and police culture has its effects on even the best-intentioned of officers. Although I love my job of questioning and even accusing police officers of any number of misdeeds, I want to say that most officers do conduct themselves at all times with integrity. But there is inevitably a vortex into which all that hope can disappear: the “thin blue line”.
As the AdvocateDaily.com piece goes on to note:
“Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair commented on this case, telling Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington “this was great work” and he was quoted as saying that the officer “took a gun off the street and that can save lives.”
Excuse me Mr. Blair but that gun had been off the street for a long time when the officer made the conscious decision to lie under oath knowing he would not almost surely not be facing a perjury charge for his troubles.