Police officers lying in official matters are considered liabilities for their agencies. Covering dishonesty or assuming it will influence the police department credibility. As witnessed in various cases, it is evident that the prosecution has a duty to report any dishonesty instances to the defendant’s attorneys. The facts of the presented case show that the officer has been working in the department for a period of fifteen years. Nevertheless, his actions require response. The paper aims to assess the viable decision based on the police officer’s crime. It also explains why the decision made is viable and outlines its overall benefits to the department and police officer in question. The decision would be to remove the officer from active duty and offer him a departmental job that would never require him to testify before a court of law. The termination would subject the officer to a different opportunity within the department that would enable him to serve in it. It should not influence the overall credibility of the department.
Keywords: termination, credibility, prosecution.
Disclosing Officer Untruthfulness to the Defense
Police officers who have stories regarding lying in official matters are considered liabilities by their agencies. As a result, these stories may render them unable to testify in a credible way in a court of law. In this case, the officer’s dishonesty that is proven through the provision of facts is not a minor matter. Concealing the dishonesty or dismissing it is bound to impact the police department credibility. Arguably, dishonesty can influence decision-making in critical matters in an institution (Blackburn, 2014, p. 78). According to the laws, which the Supreme Justice passed, proven dishonesty is bound to affect past and future cases that an officer has and may testify. The prosecution is essential and should be handed to the defendant’s attorneys. Evidently, the officer has been serving in the department for more than 15 years. At his time in service, he has had two unpleasant incidences. Therefore, handling the officer’s proven dishonesty requires swift action that will prove that the department is credible and capable of managing this situation. The chief of police would make the decision to remove the officer from active duty and offer him a departmental job that would never require him to testify before a court of law.
The officer has been working in the department for a period of fifteen years. During that time, he has been involved in two incidents of misconduct. One of them was a fault accident that occurred ten years ago. The current incidents involve the manifestation of dishonesty that ruined his credibility as a witness in criminal trials. Arguably, this demonstration of dishonesty indicates the lack of morals (Tillman, 1988, p. 21). When such instances occur, immediate actions should be taken to preserve the credibility of an agency. Covering the case is unacceptable even though the American justice system is composed of various instances whereby the police officers, common people, and departmental institutions were held liable with concealing misconduct and dishonesty. For instance, in the case of Kyles v. Whitley, the state-suppressed evidence that favored Kyles raised reasonable probability that the incident would have produced a different result. Thus, the actions of the state have led to the entitlement of Kyles to a new trial (Kyles v. Whitley, 1995, pp. 441-454). The result of such cases is devastating to the credibility of the department, the person, and the state.
The dismissal of the police officer can ensure that there will be no covering or disregard of his honesty. According to Lafollette (2014), the best way to deal with unethical practices within an organization is to enforce punitive measures against employees with such conduct (p. 112). The fact that he cannot continue to work in his position will guarantee that he never testifies in a court of law. Notably, the main role of the police officers on duty in the field is to testify before a court of law. Therefore, the officer in question would have participated in it and would have jeopardized the operation of the department, which has to provide credible testimony in a court (Goodman, 2013, p. 49). What is more, the prosecution has a duty to report any dishonesty instances to the defendant’s attorneys (Goodman, 2013, p. 49). As witnessed in the case of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the issue of dishonesty is considered an essential one in a court of law. In that case, the defendant and co-defendant were convicted of first-degree murder. The verdict of the court was a death sentence (Brady v. Maryland, 1963, p. 86). At the trial, the defendant had admitted that he was involved in the crime but denied killing the victim. The defendant also stated that the co-defendant had committed the murder. However, the defendant’s attorney did not know about the confession until the end of the trial. As a result, the Maryland Court of Appeals remanded the case due to the suppression of the evidence. The case relates to that of the given police officer. The failure to provide essential information in future cases is bound to result in the suppression of evidence.
The disclosure of any evidence may significantly influence the outcomes of current and past cases. In addition, in the case of Giglo v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972), the defendant was offered a new trial due to a newly-discovered evidence. The evidence that was presented proved that the Assistant U.S Attorney had promised to provide the key witnesses with leniency if they agreed to testify against the defendant (Giglo v. United States, 1972, p. 94). It was discovered that the prosecutor’s office did not disclose the matter. In this case, the court noted that the prosecution was responsible for presenting the evidence that the jury required. As a result, the prosecution had failed to perform its role. The case of the police officer and his dishonesty is bound to influence future cases where the prosecution is expected to provide a history of his cases. Evidently, it would lead to the establishment of his dishonesty and affect the court processes in an adverse manner.
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In the case of United States v. Bagley, 473 U.S. 667, it was found that favorable evidence was composed of material. In addition, it became clear that the constitutional error derived from the governmental suppression (United States v. Bagley, 1985, p. 473). In this case, the reasonable probability that reflects failure of disclosing the evidence would make the results of the proceeding to be different. The dishonesty of the police officer would subject his past cases to being reviewed. The reviewing process would seek to establish the information that may have failed to be disclosed and any data that is capable of influencing the verdicts of the cases. The data establishment is vital in ensuring that justice prevails in the cases (Singer, 2012, p. 123). A similar instance of dishonesty can be noted in the case of Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150, where the case was altered based on the discovery of new evidence, which the defense counsel conducted. The government had failed to disclose the alleged promise given to one of the key witnesses, according to which they would not be prosecuted (Giglio v. United States, 1972, p. 157). This action is considered dishonesty. The same situation is present in the case of United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S 97, in which the prosecutor violated the constitutional duty of disclosure. As a result, the same case would be applied to the police officer’s scenario. Evidently, the actions that are taken play an essential role in ensuring that the department minimizes the damage that the officer’s behavior may or has caused. In addition, the actions taken were aimed at ensuring that the officer’s dishonesty would not eliminate his 15-year experience. After reviewing the facts, it becomes evident that the implemented measures were swift and effective in handling the situation.
Offering the officer a different position in the department was an essential move since it would ensure that his career would not be destroyed completely. It would also benefit the department by providing an opportunity of not losing the manpower. Evidently, there are several roles and responsibilities that a policeman has within a department. Some of them do not require an officer to be present in field activities or testify in a court of law. Therefore, the officer’s demotion to a different role would ensure that he continues to serve the department in another position. The taken actions should guarantee that the officer is fully aware of the fact that he is removed from any form of field jobs. In addition, the removal of the officer from his role entails punishment for his dishonesty. However, the termination should not influence the overall credibility of the department. The officer’s rejection of the alternate position in the company would subject him to losing the privilege to work in the department.
Termination of this experienced employee with a virtually clean record is the best solution as opposed to imposing significant disciplinary action since it will ensure that the officer’s career is not ruined due to two errors. Imposing disciplinary action would deem him to continue to work and hold responsibilities in the current position. As a result, his actions would remain questionable for court of law. His role of offering credible evidence in a court would give the prosecution an advantage since it would be able to inform the defense about the officer’s questionable actions. Besides, the termination and offering a new position would be justified by the Holy Bible. It is stated,
“One who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:10-12, NIV).
Thus, a dishonest man cannot be trusted to be an officer. Allowing him to continue serving in the same position will subject the department to future cases of dishonesty. In addition, this decision is ethical because morality dictates that factors and elements that propagate vices should be eliminated from organizations (Perle, 2014, p. 34).
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In conclusion, the officer’s dishonesty influences the given person and the department in general. Ignoring and concealing the situation are unacceptable since they will ruin the credibility of a department. Police officers who become involved in the cases connected with providing false information loose trust of their agencies. As a result, it is important to react on these cases immediately. A chief of police, for example, should remove the officer from active duty and offer him a departmental job. What is more, this position should never require testifying before a court of law.