... until they decide you are a bad person.
One by one, five police officers took the witness stand at the Skokie courthouse late last month for what would typically be a routine hearing on whether evidence in a drug case was properly obtained.And:
But in a “Perry Mason” moment rarely seen inside an actual courtroom, the inquiry took a surprising turn when the suspect’s lawyer played a police video that contradicted the sworn testimony of the five officers — three from Chicago and two from Glenview, a furious judge found.
Cook County Circuit Judge Catherine Haberkorn suppressed the search and arrest, leading prosecutors to quickly dismiss the felony charges. All five officers were later stripped of their police powers and put on desk duty pending internal investigations. And the state’s attorney’s office is looking into possible criminal violations, according to spokeswoman Sally Daly.
“Obviously, this is very outrageous conduct,” a transcript of the March 31 hearing quoted the judge, a former county prosecutor, as saying. “All officers lied on the stand today. … All their testimony was a lie. So there’s strong evidence it was conspiracy to lie in this case, for everyone to come up with the same lie. … Many, many, many, many times they all lied.”
All five are veteran officers. Glenview Officer Jim Horn declined to comment Monday, while the other four — Sgt. James Padar and Officers Vince Morgan and William Pruente, all assigned to narcotics for Chicago police, and Glenview Sgt. Theresa Urbanowski — could not be reached for comment.
There are a number of reasons for the “testilying” problem. As Alexander points out, even since Younger’s time, the federal government only worsened the incentives by instituting a number of grants that reward police agencies for raw numbers of stops, arrests and convictions, particularly in drug cases. There are professional and financial incentives for racking up the stats, for police agencies as a whole, for the brass who lead them and for individual police officers. And there’s very little pushback for going too far to achieve those numbers.But video may be making cops honest:
Perhaps not in 1967. But that is more and more the case today. All of those recordings are catching more and more cops in the act of lying. Every time a recording shows a cop to have lied, a number of things happen. First, that particular cop is (hopefully) disciplined. That probably doesn’t happen as often as it should, but judges and prosecutors tend to treat perjury much more seriously than they do an illegal search. Yes, in an ideal world, cops would be disciplined as harshly for the act of violating someone’s civil liberties as they are for lying about doing so to a judge or jury after the fact. But we have to work with what we have.
Second, it serves as a warning to other cops who are lying or might lie in the future in police reports and courtrooms. The cameras are rolling. Eventually, you’ll be exposed. And third, it begins to undermine the prestige that police testimony holds with judges, prosecutors and political officials. It isn’t that cops are inherently dishonest people. But they are in fact merely people, subject to the same failings, temptations, bad incentives and trappings of power as someone in any other profession. Put another way, the problem isn’t that cops aren’t capable of telling the truth. The problem is that the courts have treated cops as if they’re incapable of lying. Video is changing that.