Friday, February 13, 2015

Is this why many citizens don't trust cops? (Not entirely, perhaps, but it does make a point)


by Ken

I should say straightaway that my friend Jon is not entirely without, er, opinions about cops. This is because he is by profession a public defender, and so the role in which he most frequently encounters them is as witnesses against clients of his. And in this role, apart from other character defects that often become hard to ignore, he holds it against them that -- notwithstanding that oath they always take to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them God -- their actual testimony tends to be, um, conspicuously untruthful.

I should probably check this with Jon before rushing into print, or whatever this is we do here, so as not to put words into his mouth. I could perhaps throw him a survey question like:
In your experience, would you say that cops on the witness stand lie --

(a) never?
(b) some of the time?
(c) a lot of the time?
(d) most of the time?
(e) all of the time?
Instead, I'm just going to guess that his answer would be (d), but even (c) wouldn't exactly be encouraging. And (e) would just be too depressing.

(A word of friendly advice: Don't get Jon started on judges either. Or maybe do get him started. Many of the judges he's dealt with on a repeat basis seem to live in that precious terrain where "appalling" and "hilarious" intersect -- or at least they would if hilariousness fit better with the fact that they're, you know, judges.)


is that a number of days ago Jon posted this dramatic courtroom exchange:
DETECTIVE: The subject said we were "tripping," which is slang for trying to get him to turn state's evidence.
DEFENSE LAWYER: Are you sure he didn't just mean you were wrong?
DETECTIVE: Nope, that's not what it means.
Well now, there you go! Thank you, detective! You're excused!

As usually happens when it comes to me and friends' Facebook postings, if I happen upon them at all, I usually happen upon them late. And by the time I do, there has usually been a good deal of response -- as in this case, where there were already a boatload of comments and a flotilla of "like"s.

I myself proceeded to "like" several comments that seemed to me to materially advance the discussion:
"He's down with the hepcat lingo."

"That detective's tripping."

"Based on my training and experience..."

"This is why the law doesn't allow cops to testify regarding what a defendant meant when they said something...."
I might add that the first comment I "like"d was ""He's down with the hepcat lingo," which still seems to me really to cut to the heart of the matter. But then, if you add in the other comments I've highlighted here, you begin to see an explanation, or a reminder, of why many citizens have less than absolute trust in our guardians of the law, who we believe feel empowered to do or say anything -- all the way up to discharging firearms -- that they feel is necessary to "keep control of a situation," as they're apt to put it when they're being genuinely descriptive. I wish it weren't necessary to add that keeping control of a situation isn't the same thing as upholding the law, and in fact routinely involves behavior that is farther outside the law than the target behavior they believe is threatening their control of a situation.

Based, of course, on their training and experience.

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At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are no good cops anymore. There are only less bad cops, bad cops, and horrible cops. They are trained to see all of us as the criminal enemy, with certain groups allowed a slight pass based on less melanin content and more-educated language. But as corporatism destroys what remains of the middle class, fewer of us will qualify for "a break" from them.

At 4:50 AM, Anonymous Henry L Mencken said...

Anonymous, why are you afraid to put your name on your comment?

Do you realize your words are meaningless if you are not willing to attach a name to them?


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