If it weren’t becoming a daily event, stories like this one would be difficult to believe.

What I can’t understand is why the general public still wants to take the word of police witnesses over that of other witnesses whenever an accused person goes to trial.

I’m not saying necessarily we have to have less faith in police witnesses than other witnesses.  But, clearly, we should assess what they have to say the same way we’d assess other witnesses.  Police officers are not living up to the standard we should expect of them.

Before I became an attorney, I believed that 95% of officers were good, decent, hard-working and honest.  I believed most were heroes fighting hard to protect us and make us safe.  Five percent, I believed were bad.

After a few years of working criminal cases, I now believe that all police officers will lie on the stand if they feel it is important to help the case.  Most police officers will tell the truth, unless they think by telling the truth the case will be hurt, or unless they think by telling a lie it will help the prosecution.  Even the most trustworthy police officers I’ve seen on the stand seem unable to resist “spinning” their testimony.

I only wish I could quit hearing prospective jurors tell me that they put more faith in the testimony of a police officer than a non-police officer.  Police officers are paid to help obtain convictions.  It’s part of their jobs to testify.

And they aren’t testifying to help the accused person be found not guilty.

35 comments

  1. I have friends and relatives in law enforcement, and also on the other side of the law. I can very honestly say all of you who have responded here are correct in many ways and wrong in a few. To bundle all of the profession under one stereotype is off base. Good, bad, or ugly. I have personally experienced lying police officers, judges, DA’s, Correctional staff, etc. I have seen the destruction of their actions. But I have also seen these sweet innocent criminals tell some lies that will have their defense attorneys crying for them, for their bad luck…. spend a month as a ride along with a cop, then spend a month working as a Correctional officer at a prison or jail, then spend a month as an inmate, incognito. your eyes will open and this hatred you continue to post about law enforcement will cease. I guarantee it.

    1. In other words, as I believe I’ve said more often than once — including recently on my Facebook page when I posted a couple things about police officers who did good deeds — there are good cops AND there are bad cops.

      As a defense attorney, I get exposed a lot to the bad cops. These are the ones who think, because they are otherwise good people, that it’s okay to lie in court, or pad their investigation to downplay things that favor a defendant, and make them look more guilty. Just a couple months ago, I had a DMV hearing where an officer said many things, under oath, which the videotape we later received from the District Attorney’s Office shows were clearly lies.

      The existence of good cops does not make it okay that cops frequently lie in order to ensure that people, who might otherwise not be convicted, are convicted. The reason we have juries is to allow them to evaluate the evidence and decide whether an accused person is guilty. We already know the cops think an arrested person is guilty; otherwise, they would not have arrested them. We don’t need them to deceive the juries in order to cover their arrests.

  2. I have friends and relatives in law enforcement, and also on the other side of the law. I can very honestly say all of you who have responded here are correct in many ways and wrong in a few. To bundle all of the profession under one stereotype is off base. Good, bad, or ugly. I have personally experienced lying police officers, judges, DA’s, Correctional staff, etc. I have seen the destruction of their actions. But I have also seen these sweet innocent criminals tell some lies that will have their defense attorneys crying for them, for their bad luck…. spend a month as a ride along with a cop, then spend a month working as a Correctional officer at a prison or jail, then spend a month as an inmate, incognito. your eyes will open and this hatred you continue to post about law enforcement will cease. I guarantee it.

    1. In other words, as I believe I’ve said more often than once — including recently on my Facebook page when I posted a couple things about police officers who did good deeds — there are good cops AND there are bad cops.

      As a defense attorney, I get exposed a lot to the bad cops. These are the ones who think, because they are otherwise good people, that it’s okay to lie in court, or pad their investigation to downplay things that favor a defendant, and make them look more guilty. Just a couple months ago, I had a DMV hearing where an officer said many things, under oath, which the videotape we later received from the District Attorney’s Office shows were clearly lies.

      The existence of good cops does not make it okay that cops frequently lie in order to ensure that people, who might otherwise not be convicted, are convicted. The reason we have juries is to allow them to evaluate the evidence and decide whether an accused person is guilty. We already know the cops think an arrested person is guilty; otherwise, they would not have arrested them. We don’t need them to deceive the juries in order to cover their arrests.

  3. I’d say that your experience can be blamed on the Police Officers subculture code of ethics, which is quite different from the Canons of Police ethics.

    Discretion A: Decisions about whether to enforce the law, in any but the
    most serious cases, should be guided by both what the law says and who
    the suspect is. Attitude, demeanor, cooperativeness, and even race, age and
    social class are all important considerations in deciding how to treat people
    generally, and whether or not to arrest suspects in particular.
    2. Discretion B: Disrespect for police authority is a serious offense that should
    always be punished with an arrest or the use of force. The offense known as
    “contempt of cop” or P.O.P.O. (pissing off a police officer) cannot be
    ignored. Even when the party has committed no violation of the law, a
    police officer should find a safe way to impose punishment, including an
    arrest on fake charges.
    3. Force: Police officers should never hesitate to use physical or deadly force
    against people who “deserve it,” or where it can be an effective way of
    solving a crime. Only the potential punishments by superior officers, civil
    litigation, citizen complaints, and so forth should limit the use of force
    when the situation calls for it. When you can get away with it, use all the
    force that society should use on people like that—force and punishment
    which bleeding-heart judges are too soft to impose.
    4. Due Process: Due process is only a means of protecting criminals at the
    expense of the law abiding and should be ignored whenever it is safe to do
    so. Illegal searches and wiretaps, interrogation without advising suspects of
    their Miranda rights, and if need be (as in the much admired movie, Dirty
    Harry), even physical pain to coerce a confession are all acceptable methods
    for accomplishing the goal the public wants the police to accomplish:
    fighting crime. The rules against doing those things merely handcuff the
    police, making it more difficult for them to do their job.
    5. Truth: Lying and deception are an essential part of the police job, and even
    perjury should be used if it is necessary to protect yourself or get a
    conviction on a “bad guy.” Violations of due process cannot be admitted to
    prosecutors or in court, so perjury (in the serious five per cent of cases that
    ever go to trial) is necessary and therefore proper. Lying to drug pushers
    about wanting to buy drugs, to prostitutes about wanting to buy sex, or to
    congressmen about wanting to buy influence is the only way, and therefore
    a proper way, to investigate these crimes without victims. Deceiving
    muggers into thinking you are an easy mark and deceiving burglars into
    thinking you are a fence are proper because there are not many other ways
    of catching predatory criminals in the act.
    6. Time: You cannot go fast enough to chase a car thief or traffic violator, nor
    slow enough to get to a “garbage” call; and when there are no calls for
    service, your time is your own. Hot pursuits are necessary because anyone
    who tries to escape from the police is challenging police authority, no
    matter how trivial the initial offense. But calls to nonserious or social-work
    problems like domestic disputes or kids making noise are unimportant, so
    you can stop to get coffee on the way or even stop at the cleaner’s if you
    like. And when there are no calls, you can sleep, visit friends, study, or do
    anything else you can get away with, especially on the midnight shift, when
    you can get away with a lot.
    7. Rewards: Police do very dangerous work for low wages, so it is proper to
    take any extra rewards the public want to give them, like free meals,
    Christmas gifts, or even regular monthly payments (in some cities) for
    special treatment. The general rule is: Take any reward that doesn’t
    change what you would do anyway, such as eating a meal, but don’t take
    money that would affect your job, like not giving traffic tickets. In many
    cities, however, especially in the recent past, the rule has been to take
    even those rewards that do affect your decisions, as long as they are
    related only to minor offenses—traffic, gambling, prostitution, but not
    murder.
    8. Loyalty: The paramount duty is to protect your fellow officers at all costs, as
    they would protect you, even though you may have to risk your own career
    or your own life to do it. If your colleagues make a mistake, take a bribe,
    seriously hurt somebody illegally, or get into other kinds of trouble, you
    should do everything you can to protect them in the ensuing investigation.
    If your colleagues are routinely breaking rules, you should never tell
    supervisors, reporters, or outside investigators about it. If you don’t like it,
    quit—or get transferred to the police academy. But never, ever, blow the
    whistle.
    SOURCE: Reprinted by permission from Sherman, L. “Learning Police Ethics.” Criminal Justice Ethics 1(1)
    (1982): 10–19. Copyright 1982 by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
    Scheingold (1984) has emphasized three dominant characteristics of

  4. I’d say that your experience can be blamed on the Police Officers subculture code of ethics, which is quite different from the Canons of Police ethics.

    Discretion A: Decisions about whether to enforce the law, in any but the
    most serious cases, should be guided by both what the law says and who
    the suspect is. Attitude, demeanor, cooperativeness, and even race, age and
    social class are all important considerations in deciding how to treat people
    generally, and whether or not to arrest suspects in particular.
    2. Discretion B: Disrespect for police authority is a serious offense that should
    always be punished with an arrest or the use of force. The offense known as
    “contempt of cop” or P.O.P.O. (pissing off a police officer) cannot be
    ignored. Even when the party has committed no violation of the law, a
    police officer should find a safe way to impose punishment, including an
    arrest on fake charges.
    3. Force: Police officers should never hesitate to use physical or deadly force
    against people who “deserve it,” or where it can be an effective way of
    solving a crime. Only the potential punishments by superior officers, civil
    litigation, citizen complaints, and so forth should limit the use of force
    when the situation calls for it. When you can get away with it, use all the
    force that society should use on people like that—force and punishment
    which bleeding-heart judges are too soft to impose.
    4. Due Process: Due process is only a means of protecting criminals at the
    expense of the law abiding and should be ignored whenever it is safe to do
    so. Illegal searches and wiretaps, interrogation without advising suspects of
    their Miranda rights, and if need be (as in the much admired movie, Dirty
    Harry), even physical pain to coerce a confession are all acceptable methods
    for accomplishing the goal the public wants the police to accomplish:
    fighting crime. The rules against doing those things merely handcuff the
    police, making it more difficult for them to do their job.
    5. Truth: Lying and deception are an essential part of the police job, and even
    perjury should be used if it is necessary to protect yourself or get a
    conviction on a “bad guy.” Violations of due process cannot be admitted to
    prosecutors or in court, so perjury (in the serious five per cent of cases that
    ever go to trial) is necessary and therefore proper. Lying to drug pushers
    about wanting to buy drugs, to prostitutes about wanting to buy sex, or to
    congressmen about wanting to buy influence is the only way, and therefore
    a proper way, to investigate these crimes without victims. Deceiving
    muggers into thinking you are an easy mark and deceiving burglars into
    thinking you are a fence are proper because there are not many other ways
    of catching predatory criminals in the act.
    6. Time: You cannot go fast enough to chase a car thief or traffic violator, nor
    slow enough to get to a “garbage” call; and when there are no calls for
    service, your time is your own. Hot pursuits are necessary because anyone
    who tries to escape from the police is challenging police authority, no
    matter how trivial the initial offense. But calls to nonserious or social-work
    problems like domestic disputes or kids making noise are unimportant, so
    you can stop to get coffee on the way or even stop at the cleaner’s if you
    like. And when there are no calls, you can sleep, visit friends, study, or do
    anything else you can get away with, especially on the midnight shift, when
    you can get away with a lot.
    7. Rewards: Police do very dangerous work for low wages, so it is proper to
    take any extra rewards the public want to give them, like free meals,
    Christmas gifts, or even regular monthly payments (in some cities) for
    special treatment. The general rule is: Take any reward that doesn’t
    change what you would do anyway, such as eating a meal, but don’t take
    money that would affect your job, like not giving traffic tickets. In many
    cities, however, especially in the recent past, the rule has been to take
    even those rewards that do affect your decisions, as long as they are
    related only to minor offenses—traffic, gambling, prostitution, but not
    murder.
    8. Loyalty: The paramount duty is to protect your fellow officers at all costs, as
    they would protect you, even though you may have to risk your own career
    or your own life to do it. If your colleagues make a mistake, take a bribe,
    seriously hurt somebody illegally, or get into other kinds of trouble, you
    should do everything you can to protect them in the ensuing investigation.
    If your colleagues are routinely breaking rules, you should never tell
    supervisors, reporters, or outside investigators about it. If you don’t like it,
    quit—or get transferred to the police academy. But never, ever, blow the
    whistle.
    SOURCE: Reprinted by permission from Sherman, L. “Learning Police Ethics.” Criminal Justice Ethics 1(1)
    (1982): 10–19. Copyright 1982 by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
    Scheingold (1984) has emphasized three dominant characteristics of

  5. I have been in the military for 10 years and also work out in town as a fire-fighter/EMT. I have worked side by side with police officers for a while now and ive always been able to rely on them whenever needed. I have always regarded police officers in the highest. I Just had a run-in with I cop. I was asked to perform a field sobriety test and did. once i performed the test i refused the any more tests. She did not place me under arrest for failing the sobriety test, she simply arrested me because she said i smelled of alcohol. I did not argue with the police and let the police officer do her job. When i received the police report, the report was false, I wont say lie, but it was not the truth at all. The police officer did everything to make me seem to be uncooperative and drunk. I was really shocked at how much of the truth was bent. The only thing i can come up with for this kind of lying is to get a conviction. Later on after she arrested me the report was wrote to make it look as if i failed my sobriety test.

  6. I have been in the military for 10 years and also work out in town as a fire-fighter/EMT. I have worked side by side with police officers for a while now and ive always been able to rely on them whenever needed. I have always regarded police officers in the highest. I Just had a run-in with I cop. I was asked to perform a field sobriety test and did. once i performed the test i refused the any more tests. She did not place me under arrest for failing the sobriety test, she simply arrested me because she said i smelled of alcohol. I did not argue with the police and let the police officer do her job. When i received the police report, the report was false, I wont say lie, but it was not the truth at all. The police officer did everything to make me seem to be uncooperative and drunk. I was really shocked at how much of the truth was bent. The only thing i can come up with for this kind of lying is to get a conviction. Later on after she arrested me the report was wrote to make it look as if i failed my sobriety test.

  7. Now there are good cops and bad cops. We have a police department that is not wanting to do their jobs. Just collect a check monthly.. Example: I have a 250cc scooter and in the State of Missouri any cycle or trike with a engine greater than 50cc must be registered as a motorcycle, must obtain a class M licence, must carry insurance and where a helmet. Well, the Chief told my son at 14 years old, if he hung a red flag on the back of his mini bike that he could ride it on the streets. I told my son no riding the mini bike on the streets period.. Now my 250cc scooter I was working on the other day and a man rode a black scooter identical to mine. It was either a 150cc or 250cc scooter. Required all the above. I asked,” So what is it a 150 or 250″? He replied,” My friend claims it might be a 125cc, but I don’t know. I had bought it off of Craig’s List and it has no title”. I said,” It is a 150cc scooter”. He said he don’t know again and rode off”. Than I noticed this guy working up town and riding the scooter to work. Noticed a 49cc paper on the back where the plate goes. So thinking maybe if it was a stolen scooter, well that might explain why the guy over Craig’s List might not have a title. Maybe this guy said ride it like this and if the scooter was never discovered well it would be junked after a few years. So I looked up the name Voyager on the scooter in question. It is manufactured by Longbo at http://www.longboamerica.com and is called LB-150T-2 Voyager 150cc Scooter. Gave this to the police, but noticed they still have done nothing about this. Guy still rides back and forth. But you have to understand these cops in general. They do not pull over dirt bikes,
    any scooters, atv’s, golfcarts, 4 wheelers, ect.. So there is no way to tell if one were stolen or if they even register them and pay taxes on them. Say I bought the 250cc scooter and left it unregistered and stayed in town. Well I bought it through a online dealer and so the State nor County knows I would have it. So I could ride all over the town for 6 or 7 years and never pay anything. All because the police are not doing their jobs. It is my business to discover if the 150cc scooter is stolen, but none of my business if he rides on the roads without a plate, helmet, insurance, ect.. I would not like it if someone stole mine, sold it, and the purchaser got to ride without even being stopped by police. I like the purchaser fine and have no issues with him, but if he bought a scooter like he says and the scooter has no title, well it is best to discover why not.. Looking on the scooter at the vin # is the only way the police can tell cc’s and if stolen.

  8. Now there are good cops and bad cops. We have a police department that is not wanting to do their jobs. Just collect a check monthly.. Example: I have a 250cc scooter and in the State of Missouri any cycle or trike with a engine greater than 50cc must be registered as a motorcycle, must obtain a class M licence, must carry insurance and where a helmet. Well, the Chief told my son at 14 years old, if he hung a red flag on the back of his mini bike that he could ride it on the streets. I told my son no riding the mini bike on the streets period.. Now my 250cc scooter I was working on the other day and a man rode a black scooter identical to mine. It was either a 150cc or 250cc scooter. Required all the above. I asked,” So what is it a 150 or 250″? He replied,” My friend claims it might be a 125cc, but I don’t know. I had bought it off of Craig’s List and it has no title”. I said,” It is a 150cc scooter”. He said he don’t know again and rode off”. Than I noticed this guy working up town and riding the scooter to work. Noticed a 49cc paper on the back where the plate goes. So thinking maybe if it was a stolen scooter, well that might explain why the guy over Craig’s List might not have a title. Maybe this guy said ride it like this and if the scooter was never discovered well it would be junked after a few years. So I looked up the name Voyager on the scooter in question. It is manufactured by Longbo at http://www.longboamerica.com and is called LB-150T-2 Voyager 150cc Scooter. Gave this to the police, but noticed they still have done nothing about this. Guy still rides back and forth. But you have to understand these cops in general. They do not pull over dirt bikes,
    any scooters, atv’s, golfcarts, 4 wheelers, ect.. So there is no way to tell if one were stolen or if they even register them and pay taxes on them. Say I bought the 250cc scooter and left it unregistered and stayed in town. Well I bought it through a online dealer and so the State nor County knows I would have it. So I could ride all over the town for 6 or 7 years and never pay anything. All because the police are not doing their jobs. It is my business to discover if the 150cc scooter is stolen, but none of my business if he rides on the roads without a plate, helmet, insurance, ect.. I would not like it if someone stole mine, sold it, and the purchaser got to ride without even being stopped by police. I like the purchaser fine and have no issues with him, but if he bought a scooter like he says and the scooter has no title, well it is best to discover why not.. Looking on the scooter at the vin # is the only way the police can tell cc’s and if stolen.

  9. As a prospective juror, I (truthfully) told the DA that I hold police officers to a higher standard. That quickly got me kicked off the jury.

    As for testilying, most cops either lie in court or turn a blind eye when they know another cop is lying.

    At times, the cops won’t necessarily be lying because they think they will not get a conviction with the truth, but they will embellish the facts to cause the judge to be biased against the defendant, causing the judge to hand out a stiffer sentence.

    If they don’t like you, they will lie “just because the scumbag deserves it.” One way to rile up a cop is to exercise a Constitutional right, such as remaining silent or refusing to consent to a search.

    On more than one occasion, I have heard police officers explain that, because a suspect is a bad guy, it is OK to lie in the present case “because he has committed crimes before but just wasn’t caught.” This somehow justifies lying in the present case. I have also heard this rationale used by cops who knowingly violate the Fourth Amendment: “he’s guilty, so it doesn’t matter that I had to lie to get the evidence to convict him.”

  10. As a prospective juror, I (truthfully) told the DA that I hold police officers to a higher standard. That quickly got me kicked off the jury.

    As for testilying, most cops either lie in court or turn a blind eye when they know another cop is lying.

    At times, the cops won’t necessarily be lying because they think they will not get a conviction with the truth, but they will embellish the facts to cause the judge to be biased against the defendant, causing the judge to hand out a stiffer sentence.

    If they don’t like you, they will lie “just because the scumbag deserves it.” One way to rile up a cop is to exercise a Constitutional right, such as remaining silent or refusing to consent to a search.

    On more than one occasion, I have heard police officers explain that, because a suspect is a bad guy, it is OK to lie in the present case “because he has committed crimes before but just wasn’t caught.” This somehow justifies lying in the present case. I have also heard this rationale used by cops who knowingly violate the Fourth Amendment: “he’s guilty, so it doesn’t matter that I had to lie to get the evidence to convict him.”

  11. Rick, you’re kind of beating a dead horse. You know that you are not getting through when the other person says anything about your “liberal viewpoint.”

    As a law and order conservative, this type of argument frustrates me. This officer couldn’t be qualified as an expert in my jurisdiction, and if he tried, the voir dire would screen him out. What in the world is CA thinking to allow expert testimony of this nature? I thought we were nuts out here!

  12. Rick, you’re kind of beating a dead horse. You know that you are not getting through when the other person says anything about your “liberal viewpoint.”

    As a law and order conservative, this type of argument frustrates me. This officer couldn’t be qualified as an expert in my jurisdiction, and if he tried, the voir dire would screen him out. What in the world is CA thinking to allow expert testimony of this nature? I thought we were nuts out here!

  13. There is a subset of cops who think that when noncops discuss issues around law enforcement, crime, and/or firearms, there’s something odd and suspicious when the first thing the noncop fails to do is don a set of kneepads.

    For two examples, see above

  14. There is a subset of cops who think that when noncops discuss issues around law enforcement, crime, and/or firearms, there’s something odd and suspicious when the first thing the noncop fails to do is don a set of kneepads.

    For two examples, see above

  15. My views regarding the lack of expertise regarding the social, cultural and psychological aspects of gangs by gang cops say nothing about “my viewpoint toward law enforcement.”

    Law enforcement generally provides a valuable service with respect to society. This does not mean that law enforcement officers who believe they are experts in areas where they are completely lacking in training, other than the inculcation of prejudices received from other law enforcement officers, are experts just because they think they are. As for the courts giving them the stamp of approval: courts also have given the stamp of approval to the belief that African-Americans were not fully human and were only fit to be slaves; courts have given approval to paying lip service to the Constitution instead of looking at what it actually says; courts have frequently made mistakes which are sometimes later corrected, or taken correct rulings and later mistakenly changed them to make it easier for the State to get what it wants. The last I heard, judges were not experts on what makes someone an expert, let alone whether a gang cop was an expert on gangs.

    Having power is not the same as having expertise.

    You ask how I know so much about gangs. I myself have never tried to testify as a gang expert; nor would I. People like gang cops and me don’t have the requisite training to do that. Arresting people does not make you an expert with respect to their psychology, nor with respect to their culture and sociology. It does provide potentially misleading data from which individuals untrained in sociology, anthropology, or group psychology (to say nothing of individual psychology) may jump to conclusions.

    Police officers arrest all kinds of people. They don’t get to testify as experts on the sociology of child abusers, experts on the cultural aspects of those who commit domestic violence, experts on the psychology of bank robbers. Why would any “educated person” think that arresting gang members makes you an expert on the sociology, cultural habits and psychology of gang members?

    Your “training and experience” with gang members means nothing when it comes from other individuals who are similarly lacking in the necessary understanding of the disciplines about which they claim to be experts. Astrologers also have “training and experience” in their field. (The difference is that a gang cop could get real training and experience in anthropology, sociology or psychology. I’ve only heard of one who ever did. Since I’ve never met him, I’ve no idea how that’s impacted his theories.)

    Seeing dead 12-to-15-year-old children tells you next to nothing about the sociology, cultural habits or psychology of gangs. How many battered wives have law enforcement officers seen who work domestic violence? How many banks have law enforcement officers who work robbery details seen robbed? How many murderers have homicide detectives arrested? If every one of them went into court to testify as “experts” on the sociology, cultural habits and psychology of battered women (or their batterers), robbed banks or robbers, or murderers, everyone (even prosecutors in black robes; certainly real judges) would recognize how crazy this is.

    My outlook and perspective has nothing to do with whether a gang cop actually is an expert. And if my outlook and perspective is why gang cops don’t get back to me after contacting their supervisors, that doesn’t explain why they don’t get back to other attorneys, who might actually believe gang cops are experts who can help their case, making the same request.

    Prosecutors (and attorneys in civil cases) love to try to point out when “experts” for the defense “only testify for the defense.” Prosecutors like to point out that the “expert” is being paid by the defense to testify and they like to talk about this being how the “expert” makes his or her living. This is supposed to be one way that juries can know that the “experts” are biased. (In private, the word “whore” is often used to describe such experts; it is strongly hinted to the jury that this is what they are.)

    Yet I’ve never met a gang cop who testified for the defense. They are paid to be on a gang task force. (The gang task force, incidentally, is frequently funded by grants which come with their own requirements that create a bias on the part of gang task members.) Their entire income depends on how well their bosses believe they perform as members of their respective “gang task forces.”

    My “training and experience” show me that gang cops do, in fact, have a tendency towards believing that “all Mexican-looking people with short hair are gang members.” It’s interesting that you find my claims based on this training and experience presumptuous and laughable, but you don’t have the same opinion of gang cops’ claims based on their training and experience.

    Both opinions come from the same kind of sources: observation, experience and, to some extent, the “training” that comes from listening to other people with the same experiences. (After all, isn’t that what you mean by “training”? You’ve sat in seminars and listened to people who told you what you now believe.)

    The difference is that I don’t claim to be an expert, able to testify under oath about all kinds of things that might be going on in the mind of a gang cop, so as to lead juries to convict them for hate crimes and prejudices which may, or may not, exist in any given gang cop.

  16. My views regarding the lack of expertise regarding the social, cultural and psychological aspects of gangs by gang cops say nothing about “my viewpoint toward law enforcement.”

    Law enforcement generally provides a valuable service with respect to society. This does not mean that law enforcement officers who believe they are experts in areas where they are completely lacking in training, other than the inculcation of prejudices received from other law enforcement officers, are experts just because they think they are. As for the courts giving them the stamp of approval: courts also have given the stamp of approval to the belief that African-Americans were not fully human and were only fit to be slaves; courts have given approval to paying lip service to the Constitution instead of looking at what it actually says; courts have frequently made mistakes which are sometimes later corrected, or taken correct rulings and later mistakenly changed them to make it easier for the State to get what it wants. The last I heard, judges were not experts on what makes someone an expert, let alone whether a gang cop was an expert on gangs.

    Having power is not the same as having expertise.

    You ask how I know so much about gangs. I myself have never tried to testify as a gang expert; nor would I. People like gang cops and me don’t have the requisite training to do that. Arresting people does not make you an expert with respect to their psychology, nor with respect to their culture and sociology. It does provide potentially misleading data from which individuals untrained in sociology, anthropology, or group psychology (to say nothing of individual psychology) may jump to conclusions.

    Police officers arrest all kinds of people. They don’t get to testify as experts on the sociology of child abusers, experts on the cultural aspects of those who commit domestic violence, experts on the psychology of bank robbers. Why would any “educated person” think that arresting gang members makes you an expert on the sociology, cultural habits and psychology of gang members?

    Your “training and experience” with gang members means nothing when it comes from other individuals who are similarly lacking in the necessary understanding of the disciplines about which they claim to be experts. Astrologers also have “training and experience” in their field. (The difference is that a gang cop could get real training and experience in anthropology, sociology or psychology. I’ve only heard of one who ever did. Since I’ve never met him, I’ve no idea how that’s impacted his theories.)

    Seeing dead 12-to-15-year-old children tells you next to nothing about the sociology, cultural habits or psychology of gangs. How many battered wives have law enforcement officers seen who work domestic violence? How many banks have law enforcement officers who work robbery details seen robbed? How many murderers have homicide detectives arrested? If every one of them went into court to testify as “experts” on the sociology, cultural habits and psychology of battered women (or their batterers), robbed banks or robbers, or murderers, everyone (even prosecutors in black robes; certainly real judges) would recognize how crazy this is.

    My outlook and perspective has nothing to do with whether a gang cop actually is an expert. And if my outlook and perspective is why gang cops don’t get back to me after contacting their supervisors, that doesn’t explain why they don’t get back to other attorneys, who might actually believe gang cops are experts who can help their case, making the same request.

    Prosecutors (and attorneys in civil cases) love to try to point out when “experts” for the defense “only testify for the defense.” Prosecutors like to point out that the “expert” is being paid by the defense to testify and they like to talk about this being how the “expert” makes his or her living. This is supposed to be one way that juries can know that the “experts” are biased. (In private, the word “whore” is often used to describe such experts; it is strongly hinted to the jury that this is what they are.)

    Yet I’ve never met a gang cop who testified for the defense. They are paid to be on a gang task force. (The gang task force, incidentally, is frequently funded by grants which come with their own requirements that create a bias on the part of gang task members.) Their entire income depends on how well their bosses believe they perform as members of their respective “gang task forces.”

    My “training and experience” show me that gang cops do, in fact, have a tendency towards believing that “all Mexican-looking people with short hair are gang members.” It’s interesting that you find my claims based on this training and experience presumptuous and laughable, but you don’t have the same opinion of gang cops’ claims based on their training and experience.

    Both opinions come from the same kind of sources: observation, experience and, to some extent, the “training” that comes from listening to other people with the same experiences. (After all, isn’t that what you mean by “training”? You’ve sat in seminars and listened to people who told you what you now believe.)

    The difference is that I don’t claim to be an expert, able to testify under oath about all kinds of things that might be going on in the mind of a gang cop, so as to lead juries to convict them for hate crimes and prejudices which may, or may not, exist in any given gang cop.

  17. Rick,

    It appears as if your viewpoint toward law enforcement is far to similar to the viewpoint you assume law enforcement officer’s have toward gang members and frankly that’s just sad. As I have stated, I am a Deputy Sheriff of 11 years I have spent more time having seroius conversations with gang members than any one of your anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists. Malcolm Klein may have written a book but I would bet my paycheck that on my 11 years on the job and my 35 years of life experience I have spoken with and have had more serious conversations with gang members than he has. (I’d be glad to provide you with a list.) But, how do you know so much about gangs? What training and experience do you have with gang members, families of gang members or victims of gang violence? Okay, so you read a book or two and you’ve no doubt defended a few but you’re critical of the job we do. How many gang shootings have you been to? How many dead 12-15 year old children have you seen fallen victim to gang violence? What makes you the determining factor as to whether I’m a gang cop or a gang expert? Nothing. Your outlook and perspective is exactly why cops have never gotten back to you after contacting their supervisors.

    As for you referring to me as a gang cop and not a gang expert (I’ve been called worse by better people). I don’t think you need a lecture in law and I’ll chalk it up as a liberal viewpoint. You can have your opinion, but the courts deem me a Gang Expert and not a Gang Cop regardless of your or Malcom Klein’s opinions. Like it or not the court says it is so.

    As for your claims regarding the perspective of a gang cop in regards to “all mexican looking people with short hair are gang members” is presumptious and laughable. For every one negative story you can provide regarding law enforcement I can provide fifty positive stories. I assumed you were an educated man Rick. But you have now engaged in a level of bantar that quite honestly is so far left I don’t think you and I could have a legitimate and fair conversation.

  18. Rick,

    It appears as if your viewpoint toward law enforcement is far to similar to the viewpoint you assume law enforcement officer’s have toward gang members and frankly that’s just sad. As I have stated, I am a Deputy Sheriff of 11 years I have spent more time having seroius conversations with gang members than any one of your anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists. Malcolm Klein may have written a book but I would bet my paycheck that on my 11 years on the job and my 35 years of life experience I have spoken with and have had more serious conversations with gang members than he has. (I’d be glad to provide you with a list.) But, how do you know so much about gangs? What training and experience do you have with gang members, families of gang members or victims of gang violence? Okay, so you read a book or two and you’ve no doubt defended a few but you’re critical of the job we do. How many gang shootings have you been to? How many dead 12-15 year old children have you seen fallen victim to gang violence? What makes you the determining factor as to whether I’m a gang cop or a gang expert? Nothing. Your outlook and perspective is exactly why cops have never gotten back to you after contacting their supervisors.

    As for you referring to me as a gang cop and not a gang expert (I’ve been called worse by better people). I don’t think you need a lecture in law and I’ll chalk it up as a liberal viewpoint. You can have your opinion, but the courts deem me a Gang Expert and not a Gang Cop regardless of your or Malcom Klein’s opinions. Like it or not the court says it is so.

    As for your claims regarding the perspective of a gang cop in regards to “all mexican looking people with short hair are gang members” is presumptious and laughable. For every one negative story you can provide regarding law enforcement I can provide fifty positive stories. I assumed you were an educated man Rick. But you have now engaged in a level of bantar that quite honestly is so far left I don’t think you and I could have a legitimate and fair conversation.

  19. Gang cops are not gang experts. They are gang cops.

    As a police officer, you no doubt received training in firearms. If you’re like most gang cops, you’ve more experience shooting your firearm than having serious conversations with and opportunities to learn from, or about, gang members. Yet most police officers do not testify as firearms experts.

    As a police officer, you’ve likely had some specialized training in how to handle your vehicle in a chase; you’ve had experience tackling fleeing suspects; you’ve (again) fired your weapon more than once. Yet, although all these activities depend upon an intuitive knowledge of physics, you would never be allowed to testify as an expert in physics.

    Furthermore, the people who really study people (and gangs are collections of people, even if gang cops don’t like to think of them as human) disagree with gang cops on almost every point when it comes to the social, cultural and psychological aspects of being a gang member. Some, like Malcolm Klein, former Director of the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Southern California, professor emeritus and possibly the most well-known gang researcher in the world, have even gone so far as to write books about the idiocy of declaring gang cops to be gang experts. (See Klein, Malcolm, Gang Cop: The Words and Ways of Officer Paco Domingo (2004).)

    When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. To a gang cop, all “Mexican-looking” people with short hair (to use just one profile) are gang members. This is why so many Hispanic law enforcement officers can tell you stories about the benefit of having a badge to flash when they’re stopped for having the audacity to walk around in public when they’re off duty.

    I have no doubt that most gang cops are true believers; they believe they’re doing the right thing.

    But gang cops don’t refuse to testify for the defense because gang expertise is not ever needed by defense witnesses, or because there’s nothing they could contribute to a defense theory; they refuse to testify for the defense because they’re paid to help prosecutors convince juries to convict gang members. Period.

    God forbid prosecutors should just present evidence of gang crimes to juries and let the juries decide themselves. Prosecutors must have gang cops to say, “Yes. In my opinion, this gang is a criminal street gang. In my opinion, this crime is a gang crime. In my opinion, the jury should convict these people.” And because juries don’t read the daily stories about police officers who lie, cheat, steal, or kill, they generally trust gang cops to be honest, truthful and unbiased.

    The day I see a gang cop on the stand who is familiar with the literature of anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists who study gangs, that’s the day I’ll start to believe that maybe there’s a gang cop on the stand who deserves to be called a gang expert.

  20. Gang cops are not gang experts. They are gang cops.

    As a police officer, you no doubt received training in firearms. If you’re like most gang cops, you’ve more experience shooting your firearm than having serious conversations with and opportunities to learn from, or about, gang members. Yet most police officers do not testify as firearms experts.

    As a police officer, you’ve likely had some specialized training in how to handle your vehicle in a chase; you’ve had experience tackling fleeing suspects; you’ve (again) fired your weapon more than once. Yet, although all these activities depend upon an intuitive knowledge of physics, you would never be allowed to testify as an expert in physics.

    Furthermore, the people who really study people (and gangs are collections of people, even if gang cops don’t like to think of them as human) disagree with gang cops on almost every point when it comes to the social, cultural and psychological aspects of being a gang member. Some, like Malcolm Klein, former Director of the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Southern California, professor emeritus and possibly the most well-known gang researcher in the world, have even gone so far as to write books about the idiocy of declaring gang cops to be gang experts. (See Klein, Malcolm, Gang Cop: The Words and Ways of Officer Paco Domingo (2004).)

    When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. To a gang cop, all “Mexican-looking” people with short hair (to use just one profile) are gang members. This is why so many Hispanic law enforcement officers can tell you stories about the benefit of having a badge to flash when they’re stopped for having the audacity to walk around in public when they’re off duty.

    I have no doubt that most gang cops are true believers; they believe they’re doing the right thing.

    But gang cops don’t refuse to testify for the defense because gang expertise is not ever needed by defense witnesses, or because there’s nothing they could contribute to a defense theory; they refuse to testify for the defense because they’re paid to help prosecutors convince juries to convict gang members. Period.

    God forbid prosecutors should just present evidence of gang crimes to juries and let the juries decide themselves. Prosecutors must have gang cops to say, “Yes. In my opinion, this gang is a criminal street gang. In my opinion, this crime is a gang crime. In my opinion, the jury should convict these people.” And because juries don’t read the daily stories about police officers who lie, cheat, steal, or kill, they generally trust gang cops to be honest, truthful and unbiased.

    The day I see a gang cop on the stand who is familiar with the literature of anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists who study gangs, that’s the day I’ll start to believe that maybe there’s a gang cop on the stand who deserves to be called a gang expert.

  21. Rick,

    As a Deputy Sheriff of 11 years and more specifically as a Gang Expert the question here is not the truthfulness of the individual officer. I fail to see how a Gang Expert refusing to testify for the defense allows for the assumption a police officer is untruthful.

    Fact, I have never been given a promotion nor would I ever be demoted for telling the truth in court. This is true even if the testimony resulted in an acquittal.

    The fact of the matter is, if the crime was not a gang crime and did not require my testimony or my expert opinion I would not take the case in the first place. Almost all gang officers are promoted or transfered into those positions because of their personal knowledge of particular gangs and their expertise with those gang members. Not because of good testimony. I will conceed being able to testify is extremely important especially in gang cases because you are deemed an “expert” by the court and therefor can offer an opinion. This means you must be able to testify competently.

    Now you wrote about officer’s “spinning” their testimony which is what you are doing here. See the fact of the matter is if an officer can not qualify as a gang expert and can not testify competently then why should he/she be in a specialty which requires a particular set of expertise. What good is an officer testifying in a gang case if the court does not find him/her to be a gang expert. If he/she can not qualify as a gang expert then he/she can not offer an opinion either way as to whether or not your client is a gang member. As a defense attorney I’m sure you wouldn’t hire a gang expert who has had some (how did you put it) “poor showings” to defend your client. Why? Because they aren’t competent to offer an opinion either for or against your client.

    As a defense attorney would you hire a nurse to offer a medical opinion of an injury (a broken arm) sustained by your client during an altercation with police (hypothetically)? Or would you hire a doctor? The doctor of course. Why because he/she is more competent to offer a medical opinion. Now same hypothetical, would you hire the same doctor over and over again if the doctor was not able to testify competently on the stand or would you hire a doctor who is more competent? You would seek out the more competent doctor of course.

    Competence is encompassed by every aspect of testimony. It includes training, experience, truthfulness, delivery, speaking ability, confidence, likeability and so on. If you can’t testify competently then you shouldn’t be offering an opinion or assigned to a specialty unit that requires expertise. Again, I fail to see how you can relate one’s poor showing in testifying to truthfulness.

    As for refusing to testify for the defense you made comment about “defense experts.” I am a Gang Expert. Meaning “I am a Gang Expert” not a “defense expert” nor a “prosecution expert.” I am a Gang Expert. If you perceived officer’s as truthful (which you should assume after all you assume your client is innocent) then you should have no problem with my testimony. As I stated earlier, if this was not a gang case I would not have taken it and this would be relayed to the distict attorney’s office that the case is not gang related. Unfortunately, my testimony probably will not help you or your client therefor you perceive law enforcement as untruthful, dishonest and bias and in turn, you hire a “defense expert” to say what you want a jury to hear and to offer a different opinion for the benefit of your client. However, you and I both know that if I was going to offer an opinion that would benefit your client you would have no problem allowing me to offer such an opinion. However, to offer such an opinion would indicate that your client is not a gang member or did not commit the crime to benefit the gang and therefor I would be uninvolved in the case anyway.

  22. Rick,

    As a Deputy Sheriff of 11 years and more specifically as a Gang Expert the question here is not the truthfulness of the individual officer. I fail to see how a Gang Expert refusing to testify for the defense allows for the assumption a police officer is untruthful.

    Fact, I have never been given a promotion nor would I ever be demoted for telling the truth in court. This is true even if the testimony resulted in an acquittal.

    The fact of the matter is, if the crime was not a gang crime and did not require my testimony or my expert opinion I would not take the case in the first place. Almost all gang officers are promoted or transfered into those positions because of their personal knowledge of particular gangs and their expertise with those gang members. Not because of good testimony. I will conceed being able to testify is extremely important especially in gang cases because you are deemed an “expert” by the court and therefor can offer an opinion. This means you must be able to testify competently.

    Now you wrote about officer’s “spinning” their testimony which is what you are doing here. See the fact of the matter is if an officer can not qualify as a gang expert and can not testify competently then why should he/she be in a specialty which requires a particular set of expertise. What good is an officer testifying in a gang case if the court does not find him/her to be a gang expert. If he/she can not qualify as a gang expert then he/she can not offer an opinion either way as to whether or not your client is a gang member. As a defense attorney I’m sure you wouldn’t hire a gang expert who has had some (how did you put it) “poor showings” to defend your client. Why? Because they aren’t competent to offer an opinion either for or against your client.

    As a defense attorney would you hire a nurse to offer a medical opinion of an injury (a broken arm) sustained by your client during an altercation with police (hypothetically)? Or would you hire a doctor? The doctor of course. Why because he/she is more competent to offer a medical opinion. Now same hypothetical, would you hire the same doctor over and over again if the doctor was not able to testify competently on the stand or would you hire a doctor who is more competent? You would seek out the more competent doctor of course.

    Competence is encompassed by every aspect of testimony. It includes training, experience, truthfulness, delivery, speaking ability, confidence, likeability and so on. If you can’t testify competently then you shouldn’t be offering an opinion or assigned to a specialty unit that requires expertise. Again, I fail to see how you can relate one’s poor showing in testifying to truthfulness.

    As for refusing to testify for the defense you made comment about “defense experts.” I am a Gang Expert. Meaning “I am a Gang Expert” not a “defense expert” nor a “prosecution expert.” I am a Gang Expert. If you perceived officer’s as truthful (which you should assume after all you assume your client is innocent) then you should have no problem with my testimony. As I stated earlier, if this was not a gang case I would not have taken it and this would be relayed to the distict attorney’s office that the case is not gang related. Unfortunately, my testimony probably will not help you or your client therefor you perceive law enforcement as untruthful, dishonest and bias and in turn, you hire a “defense expert” to say what you want a jury to hear and to offer a different opinion for the benefit of your client. However, you and I both know that if I was going to offer an opinion that would benefit your client you would have no problem allowing me to offer such an opinion. However, to offer such an opinion would indicate that your client is not a gang member or did not commit the crime to benefit the gang and therefor I would be uninvolved in the case anyway.

  23. Aaron,

    I believe you may have misunderstood my comment about officers being paid to obtain convictions. I did not say that police officers are paid on a per conviction basis.

    Those who testify in court in a way that hurts the prosecutor’s case will soon find themselves transferred to a less desirable position where testifying in court won’t be part of the job description.

    In cases involving gang evidence, as just one example, officers’ jobs very much depend upon how they testify. In courts around the area I practice, I’ve seen — and there are numerous stories from other attorneys both within and outside my geographical area — officers transferred after a particularly bad “showing” at trial. And if officers were not paid to obtain convictions, then how do you explain the gang cops who refuse to testify for the defense when asked because they’re afraid they’ll lose their jobs?

    It’s ironic that when a defense expert is on the stand, one question often put to them relates to whether they’ve ever testified for the prosecution and, if so, how often. The idea is to try to show that they’re like prostitutes who will say anything because they’re hired by defense attorneys and, if they don’t do well for the defense, their ability to make money will be impaired. However, when I’ve asked gang cops to testify for the defense, they either flat-out refuse, or say they have to check it with their superiors. After they tell me they have to check with their superiors, I never hear from them again.

    There are all kinds of police officers, just as there are all kinds of people. Officers are unfortunately no better, and not infrequently are worse, than others when it comes to telling the truth when testifying. (For more on this, see my article on Testilying.)

    I’m not sure what you mean about lawyers committing perjury in the courtroom. Lawyers don’t testify in court. They ask questions. Then they make arguments at the end of a trial which relate to the evidence. Some lawyers on both sides of the case will deliberately misrepresent evidence when arguing. On the other hand, a person who has already decided which way the case should go will see the opposition as “lying” when they put forward their version of the case.

    That’s why we have trials: in the hope a jury of twelve will figure out the truth.

    Unfortunately, juries give too much weight to police officer testimony, given the prevalence of testilying.

  24. Aaron,

    I believe you may have misunderstood my comment about officers being paid to obtain convictions. I did not say that police officers are paid on a per conviction basis.

    Those who testify in court in a way that hurts the prosecutor’s case will soon find themselves transferred to a less desirable position where testifying in court won’t be part of the job description.

    In cases involving gang evidence, as just one example, officers’ jobs very much depend upon how they testify. In courts around the area I practice, I’ve seen — and there are numerous stories from other attorneys both within and outside my geographical area — officers transferred after a particularly bad “showing” at trial. And if officers were not paid to obtain convictions, then how do you explain the gang cops who refuse to testify for the defense when asked because they’re afraid they’ll lose their jobs?

    It’s ironic that when a defense expert is on the stand, one question often put to them relates to whether they’ve ever testified for the prosecution and, if so, how often. The idea is to try to show that they’re like prostitutes who will say anything because they’re hired by defense attorneys and, if they don’t do well for the defense, their ability to make money will be impaired. However, when I’ve asked gang cops to testify for the defense, they either flat-out refuse, or say they have to check it with their superiors. After they tell me they have to check with their superiors, I never hear from them again.

    There are all kinds of police officers, just as there are all kinds of people. Officers are unfortunately no better, and not infrequently are worse, than others when it comes to telling the truth when testifying. (For more on this, see my article on Testilying.)

    I’m not sure what you mean about lawyers committing perjury in the courtroom. Lawyers don’t testify in court. They ask questions. Then they make arguments at the end of a trial which relate to the evidence. Some lawyers on both sides of the case will deliberately misrepresent evidence when arguing. On the other hand, a person who has already decided which way the case should go will see the opposition as “lying” when they put forward their version of the case.

    That’s why we have trials: in the hope a jury of twelve will figure out the truth.

    Unfortunately, juries give too much weight to police officer testimony, given the prevalence of testilying.

  25. I am sorry you have dealt with some shady police officers in your career; however if you really think for one second we get paid for convictions then you are a nut job! I can speak for a lot of officers when I say testifying in court is never convienient and always falls on the morning after a 12 hour night shift and I can think of plenty of other things I would love to be doing than sitting in a courtroom and listen to some professional bullshitter trying to get his client off on some b.s. excuse of why he couldnt have committed that crime. I have never received a raise for any conviction no matter how serious the charge was. I think you may need a serious reality check or maybe the muni CT you practice in does not have any air flow. Funny how there is no charge for lawyers who lie in the courtroom, is that right? If perjury applied to any statement inside a courtroom then it would finally be a true adverserial system of justice.

  26. I am sorry you have dealt with some shady police officers in your career; however if you really think for one second we get paid for convictions then you are a nut job! I can speak for a lot of officers when I say testifying in court is never convienient and always falls on the morning after a 12 hour night shift and I can think of plenty of other things I would love to be doing than sitting in a courtroom and listen to some professional bullshitter trying to get his client off on some b.s. excuse of why he couldnt have committed that crime. I have never received a raise for any conviction no matter how serious the charge was. I think you may need a serious reality check or maybe the muni CT you practice in does not have any air flow. Funny how there is no charge for lawyers who lie in the courtroom, is that right? If perjury applied to any statement inside a courtroom then it would finally be a true adverserial system of justice.

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