Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D) wants to embolden officers who lie by making it harder to punish them. His newest bill, AB1298, which is sitting in committee as of 18 April 2017, seeks to ratchet up the standard to punish for officers who lie in their official capacity.
When an officer lies on the job they are known colloquially as a “Brady Officer” owing to a 1963 US Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland. When labeled as such their history of untruthiness is handed to the defense.
This is a big issue with law enforcement because the inability to testify makes it extremely difficult to do one’s job as an officer and it can ruin one’s career. Here’s a quick except from the online Law Enforcement reference site Police One;
“An officer who has been proved to have lied during a disciplinary investigation, or in any other context, will be placed on a Brady list which is then provided to prosecutors. If an officer on the list is scheduled to testify in a case, a prosecutor will be notified by the agency so that the appropriate disclosure can be made.”
This is a solid little piece of advice for officers and it essentially is summed up by “you expect the truth from citizens, they should expect the truth from you”.
That the United States Supreme Court had to tell prosecutors and police departments to not put habitual liars on the stand, lest they be forced to disclose the records, in order to convict people should tell you plenty about the goals of our supposed justice system.
That’s what makes Assemblyman Santiago’s bill so tone-deaf and tone-deaf. It makes no sense that in an era of #BlackLivesMatters and being #Woke and every third meme about the maltreatment of people by law enforcement that a (D) would be able to support, nay! defend, the lies by officers in their official capacity.
Yet Santiago knows that he’s safe in his district so he has no qualms about crushing those below him and subjecting them to the worst of the bad apples. It’s not like his lowly Angelino constituents can match the massive funding he likely gets from his police union benefactors.
Officers, like all those in government, should be held to a higher standard than those for whom they purport to work. We citizens should not be expected to be better than those writing and enforcing the very laws used against us day to day. Until we find angels amongst men to rule over us we should subject the men and women we do have to the highest standards.
This bill will do nothing to help with the growing gap in trust between the citizenry and law enforcement and will likely make people less likely to trust the police knowing that there are more brazen liars amongst them being further protected.