GOOD COP, BAD COP
ON BEHALF OF THE BERNSEN LAW FIRM
November 18, 2013 – What do you say we try the old “Good Cop, Bad Cop” routine? We have all seen this psychological police tactic dramatized on the movie screen in nearly every police movie filmed. The “Good Cop, Bad Cop” routine is an act but one must ask, are there really good and bad police officers? The answer is an obvious yes – after all, there are good and bad folks in every line of employment. Certainly bad seeds have managed to become police officers. However, giving a bad seed a gun, a badge, and authority to restrain a person’s freedom, is an issue that cannot be tolerated.
One cannot deny that there are incredible police officers, absolute professionals that voluntarily choose to put their lives on the line daily to protect their fellow citizens. They answer their noble call to serve with incredible courage. Police officers are given a level of authority that is necessary to ensure the safety of citizens within their given community. Prior to donning a badge, police officers are often asked to publicly affirm an Oath of Honor. The oath reads:
“On my honor,
I will wear never betray my badge,
my integrity, my character,
or the public trust.
I will always have
the courage to hold myself
and others accountable for our actions.
I will always uphold the Constitution
my community and the agency I serve.”
The issue is that while most officers adhere to this important oath, some bad seeds simply abandon their affirmation. Do these officers start off with a willingness to violate their duties or do they become jaded after time? Many advocates have proposed the requirement of psychological profiling for candidates wishing to seek employment as a police officer. Might profiling assist in answering whether or not a particular person is fit to hold the power that a gun and badge award? Psychological profiling is used in other countries and is currently employed by some U.S. federal law enforcement agencies.
But what about the officers who just “break” while in the line of duty? It happens every single day in the United States. An innocent person has his or her civil rights violated by a police officer. This fact leads to an infinite number of questions. Did the officer receive the proper training? Did the officer have prior use of force incidents on his or her record? Did the department ever discipline the officer? Did the officer have any legal training? These questions and many more help to shed light on why an officer may violate a person’s rights. The most important place that attorneys look is at the officer’s personnel record – looking at the actions taken in the past can often help to describe the present actions. However, one must always remember that in a use of force situation, a city is essentially given the task of policing itself. The city hired the officer and now the same city must determine whether the use of force was justified. There is an obvious incentive to find that the force was justified and in an alarming number of cases, cities find that the force was justified. In a recent article in the Texas Observer, “The Horror Every Day: Police Brutality In Houston Goes Unpunished,” Emily Deprang writes, “during the past six years, Houston civilians reported officers for use of force 588 times – the Internal Affairs division investigated each complaint and dismissed all but four.”1 The effect of a city policing itself is that less than .007 of complaints from concerned citizens are dismissed. The numbers speak for themselves.
The bottom line is that many incidents of police brutality are simply swept under the rug. Often times a city has no incentive to police itself. Though there are many good police officers that answer the call of their noble profession, too many bad officers go unpunished for breaking the law. Don’t let those acts go unnoticed – you do have a voice.
At the Bernsen Law Firm, we are not blind. We understand that police brutality does happen far too often than it should – never. If you or a loved one has been the victim of police misconduct, we are here to represent you. Whether you have been wrongfully arrested, illegally strip-searched, are a victim of police brutality or have suffered any other wrong at the hands of a bad cop, we are determined to protect your rights and will work to get you the compensation that you deserve.
NOTE: This information is not legal advice. It is provided for educational use only. If you need legal representation for a civil rights case anywhere in the United States, please contact the Bernsen Law Firm at 409-212-9994.