Police double standard number 3,427. Police crimes are crimes. NOT simply workplace incidents. It would seem like the most simple of expectations. If a cop is accused of committing a crime, it gets treated the same as when a non-badged citizen is accused of committing a crime. Right?
Wrong. Let’s look at a generic process.
If you feel that a crime has been committed by anyone other than police, you let the PD know, and they will put you in contact with a detective. The detective will have you give a statement that describes your interpretation of what happened. The detective will then discuss the details of the incident. This is an important element of the investigation because they need to ensure all the facts are noted, vetted, and understood, versus a skewed subjective statement. Obviously, a simple statement rarely gives all the details, otherwise, we wouldn’t need detectives for any crime. At that point, you will be given a report number that allows you to keep up with the investigation.
This is rarely a quick, one conversation process. Their work really begins after they get both sides of the story. From there, they take all the information and investigate the details. During the process, you can call in with your report number, and get information about the progress of the case. Transparent and open.
So, how do they handle things if the person accused of committing a crime wears a badge?
One might think the standard and transparency would be raised to a much higher level of scrutiny. Instead, things are taken behind closed doors and handled more like a workplace incident.
When you attempt to get in contact with a detective, you are immediately cut off by superiors and told that you have to file a complaint against the officer. That’s it. From there, you are out of the loop. They don’t call you to get further details, or make any attempts to help you with your claim of a crime. In Carrollton, TX, Internal Affairs is a one man operation. A superior who certainly has a vested interest in any negative optics associated with the department.
It’s understandable that the superiors want to know what’s going on with one of their officers, but should the standard process (criminal investigation) only be considered if the superiors decide they want it to be exposed? The investigation should be performed simultaneously so details are logged, and on the books. By having a superior look at it first, they get to sweep it under the rug by making it a “private” employee document as opposed to a public criminal investigation. CYA is undeniably here.
Effectively, the “criminal” entity gets to see all of your claims BEFORE they even have to make a legal statement. They can take all of the details without any legal scrutiny, and decide what kind of story they want to give. They ultimately are allowed to get together with all the information about the case, and build a story of innocence that will be good enough to prevent it from actually getting investigated. With no investigation, there is no information subject to FOIA. With no FOIA, they aren’t exposed to media scrutiny or potential litigation.
Basically, the only communication you get throughout the process is either it’s completed, or it’s still in progress. Once the investigation is completed, you get the standard form letter that effectively states “We investigated ourselves, and found we did nothing wrong”:
That’s it. Now, they claim you can appeal the finding, but that’s just a bunch of smoke:
Well, unless you have a bucket of expendable money to throw at it. Not sure what we’re paying the police for if we have to get a lawyer just to get the opportunity to discuss your side of the story openly.
Do the police get calls that are either elaborated or completely false? Probably quite a few. However, they likely get quite a few of those calls for people from all walks of life. That doesn’t give them an excuse to treat potential police crimes differently than they do any others. Handling potential police crimes in secrecy only exacerbates the distrust people have for police officers. It already appears they can do whatever they want without fear of the same scrutiny they impose on us. By completely cutting the public out of some secret tribunal (of one person in Carrollton, TX), it only raises more concerns that they believe badges DO grant extra rights……but they don’t.