For a long period of time, the police officers responsible with law enforcement have been faced with mounting pressure on how to deal with employees whose jurisdiction is law enforcement but have proven to be untruthful in their place of work. Many departmental leaders in law enforcement dockets have been faced with the dilemma on how to deal with such officers and the most suitable legal action to take against them. Court decisions in the matter have contributed in shaping the decision making regarding the adequate disciplinary actions. It is for this concern that the Justice Department in the U.S. gave detailed instructions regarding the way forward for cases implicating local and state law enforcers who have a background of untruthfulness in the workplace (Serpas & Hagar, 2010, p. 115). This purpose of this paper is to investigate course of action after the disclosure of unfaithful officers with regard to a presented case and identifying whether a liar squad is growing.
The case involves a 15 years veteran law enforcement officer who has violated the standing rules of workplace. The officer has been found to have used computers in the patrol division inappropriately through accessing pornographic websites. The officer shows qualities of untruthfulness while in duty when he denies all the charges levied against him. Further investigation into the matter by computer crime specialist shows that indeed the violation was committed by the officer in question. Upon this revelation, the officer owns up his wrong doing and promises that he will never commit such violation in future. The track record of the service man is virtually clean except for a minor fault committed about ten years ago. The Chief of Police is notified of the case by his deputy. The dilemma of the case is whether the chief of police should terminate the services of the officer in fault that have nearly a clean record of practice or he should enforce a disciplinary action to the officer rather than terminating him.
Course of Action
As the municipality Chief officer of police, I would rather terminate the officer. This would be in regard to the consequence of Brady v. Maryland (1963) and Giglio v. United States (1972). The cases depict the significance of disclosure of pertinent information. Law enforcement officers are required at all times under any circumstance to disclose all necessary information needed regarding any matter being investigated. The law enforcement agencies have observed that untruthful performance by law enforcement parties has a retrogressive effect on the day to day efficient service provision. The officer is deemed as untruthful where he conceals information that would possibly incriminate him to the wrong doing. Connectively, the public policy for law enforcers holds that dishonest sentiments provided by a law enforcement employee in order to evade disciplinary measures further undercuts the great quality service expected from police officers (Colaprete, 2007, p. 68).
I believe that truthfulness of a police officer does not only revolve around providing credible information as a witness in the court of law. It is fundamental for every officer to be truthful in all matters surrounding his or her work. This is because truthfulness indicates the employee’s ability to continuously provide reliable services. To this effect, any untruthful behavior by officers of law should be countered with the maximum disciplinary measure, that is, termination. In reference to the above case analysis, it is evident that the said officer was not honest when asked about his inappropriate actions. It was only after further and intensive investigation that exposed the officer’s involvement with the violation that he owned up his mistakes. This clearly shows that the officer had a primary intention of hiding the truth from the investigators to safeguard his personal interests (Colaprete, 2012, p. 275).
Employees in law enforcement agencies are required to uphold the highest level of honesty in their service both in a courtroom setting and outside the court. Lack of honesty indicates low credibility of the officer in providing effective and efficient services as is expected of him or her. Employees in law enforcement agencies such as the police come across very vital information for example, crime information, investigation reports, and evidence to crimes among other important information. It is hence the ethical and obligatory duty of all officers to maintain high level of credibility and disclosure of necessary information (Zenner, 2012, p. 217). Concealment of any information depicts the inability of an officer to offer credible services. It is for this reason that the police officer in question raises queries about his credibility. Absolute truthfulness is expected of every police officer when required to disclose particular facts. Truthfulness is regarded as the backbone of effective service delivery to the community. This is in direct relationship with Rodriguez v. Board of Com’rs, Port of New Orleans (1977) where the court of appeal established that there subsist significant relationship between untruthful conduct and less efficient public service (Serpas & Hagar, 2010, p. 117).
The initial attempt by the officer to conceal the fact that he abused one of the computers in the patrol division to access unauthorized sites amounted to a great offence. The violation by its nature may seem to be of a small magnitude but the major problem arises where the officer was untruthful about the situation when initially confronted. Although the setting of the case was not in a court of law, the situation directly relates to the circumstances of United States v. Agurs (1976). In this case, it was held that the prosecutor’s deliberate withholding of solid evidence was a great defiance of the due process. In regard to the case analyzed in this paper, it is visible that the officer deliberately withheld the truth through denying his participation in the violation. By virtue of the cited case, this amounts to untruthfulness. Pardoning the officer would probably have negative consequences in the future (Gaines & Worrall, 2012, p. 439).
Cole, Smith & DeJong (2014, p. 324) indicate that in order to curb the increasing number of cases involving police unfaithfulness to duty and authority, severe disciplinary actions should be taken against any officer who is involved a case of untruthfulness to the authority. Withholding information at basic level of practice is an indication that the officer can as well withhold vital information which makes expectation of public faith from the officer questionable. Based on the case analysis above, it is evident that the violating officer had not been involved in any other defiance in his capacity as a police. Hence the disciplinary action may seem bias under this perspective. Additionally, one may argue that the officer’s violation did not contravene his obligations of serving the public. It should however be noted that the main reason for severe disciplinary action to the officer was due to dishonesty.
According to Punch (2013, p. 36) cases of corrupt police in the U.S. agencies have been on the rise. This is especially in cases where credibility of police officers is falling below the required threshold. It is for this reason that issues of untruthfulness of officers are taken very seriously by the responsible authorities. The police are given adequate training where they are taught on policies and guidelines of their work. Since the police are expected to act in public faith, truthfulness is key requirement while on duty. The training also informs the officers what is required of them by the public while on service and ensures that every officer is explicitly aware of these guidelines. This is why that severe disciplinary action is taken to any officer who deliberately contravenes these guidelines. The increasing cases of low credibility among the police officers forced the police department in the U.S. to revisit its policies, processes and the nature of training particularly controlling truthfulness.
The main goal of law enforcement agencies is to provide equitable, effective and proficient services to members of public in consistence with the goals of the agencies, ethical standard, rules and conventions and any other prescription indicated there in. In order to achieve this standard of practice, it is necessary for all employees in the police department to maintain high level of integrity. This is usually the principle of guidance in regard to the conduct of the employees. All other expectations of the employee conduct are derived from this principle of integrity whether it relates to issues of truthfulness or duty performance. The Chief Officer of police on behalf of the public makes sure that the police maintain truthfulness and integrity at all levels of their operations. Slightest divergence of these principles by police officers is not tolerated whatsoever. The officers are at all times expected to conduct themselves in a way that may not discredit their value (cited in Cole, Smith & DeJong 2014).
Police employee termination for dishonesty has been observed as the last resort to put in place a credible and reliable force. Police officers are required to demonstrate absolute honesty in both official and non official matters in order to show reliability in their services. To avoid the effects in Kyles v. Whitley (1995) and United States v. Bagley (1985) where it was established that there was insufficient disclosure of information by the law enforcement employees, the policing agencies decided to impose extreme disciplinary measures to the officers at fault. Untruthfulness of an officer may possibly lead to bias during trial or decision making. The official policy of the U.S. police department requires termination of any officer who engages in dishonesty in the workplace. The decision to terminate the officer in the case is therefore appropriate (Judge, 2005, p. 10).
The paper clearly analyzes the case and provides an in-depth explanation as to why the officer should be terminated. Although the officer’s performance record has been clean over the last 15 years, his involvement dishonesty is a serious violation of the police policy guidelines and cannot be pardoned. Dishonesty in the workplace is taken as an act of high level indiscipline. The effect of untruthfulness is clearly observed from previous similar cases. Involvement in an issue of untruthfulness raises doubts on the capability of the police officer to testify well. It is upon this fact that defaulters are terminated promptly (Serpas & Hagar, 2010, p. 119).