Cops tell the truth
In my expert opinion... I am referring to testifying in court under oath, not tactical deception on the street allowed by the courts such as undercover officers who deny being a cop
I do not testify against police officers as an expert witness. I have never sought business as an expert witness, but I occasionally have been asked to be one. When asked, I tell the caller, “I do not testify against police officers as an expert witness.”
When I have given that answer the attorney calling often editorializes, “You know that by taking that stance you impact on your credibility. To be credible you must be available to testify for and against officers.”
My response is usually: “Oh really? Goodbye.”
It’s All About Credibility
In many of these cases I had the truth in my pocket. I knew exactly what happened and did not happen. I was often required to sit idly by while suspects said they did not do a thing I knew they had done. Other times they testified that I had done things that I knew I absolutely had not done.
While knowing the truth of cases in question, time and time again the officers I worked with also told truth. In my experience when I knew what the truth was and there was a stark contrast in the telling of the story it was the suspects, who lied. Even so I have heard defense attorneys make statements like this to a jury, “The shocking question you must ask yourselves today is are the police lying in this case?”
As difficult as it was to be unjustly called a liar, I always found comfort in the words of Winston Churchill. He once said, “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end there it is.”
I have personally witnessed officers tell the truth when:
1.) It is exculpatory for the suspect.
On the other hand, I have personally observed suspects lie over everything from parking tickets to homicides.
After an entire career of watching defendants tell lies under oath, while my fellow officers and I told the truth it is not possible for me to in good conscience ever jeopardize another officer’s career as an expert witness on the word of any suspect. This decision is re-enforced by the observation that suspects regularly do not tell the truth.
An expert who buys into the lie of a suspect could easily testify that the reasonable actions of an officer were, in fact, unreasonable or even criminal. But it would be based on a lie. The expert would be party to the crime of ruining the career of an honorable officer.
Some will call me naïve and say that police officers have lied in the past. These officers were an aberration where I worked and in those cases they were exposed by fellow officers bound by their honor and a duty to tell even the difficult truth.
Maybe even more important to officers is the sense that in court, when a cop lies, their honor dies. Honor means a lot to the men and women drawn to this profession. Police officers realize that you can sell honor and credibility for a penny, but once sold you can’t buy them back for a million bucks.
The Art of Lying
Adolf Hitler had another point of view. He once said, “Make the lie big. Make it simple. Keep saying it and eventually they will believe it.” I have personally witnessed suspects practice both of these approaches...under oath.
Honor et Veritas
I will close this piece with an example of an oath taken by knights in a historical movie called “The Kingdom of Heaven.”
Be without fear in the face of your enemies.
In my expert opinion, police officers tell the truth, because in truth there is honor.
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