Honesty is Not a Job Requirement for Police Officersby Will Grigg
Jan. 23, 2013
If you lie to a police officer, you can be charged with a crime. When – not if—a police officer lies to you, he’s carrying out a legitimate function of his job. That’s what former prosecutor Val Van Brocklin explained in an essay published by Officer.com. Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper estimates that the typical police officer will lie several times during his daily duty shift.
In a 2009 ruling, the Washington State Supreme Court upheld a decision by an arbitrator reversing the termination of Kitsap County Sherriff’s deputy who had been fired for lying and other misconduct. The court agreed that honesty was not an essential function of a law enforcement officer’s job.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who has been forced to retain several deputies after they were caught lying, is determined to establish a higher standard of official conduct. To that end, Sheriff Knezovich has drafted legislation that would provide sheriffs and police chiefs with discretionary powers to fire officers who engage in dishonest or criminal behavior on the job. That proposed legislation has been supported by all 39 sheriffs in Washington State.
This wouldn’t correct all of the institutional problems with law enforcement, but it is a very good place to start.