I had a dream about being pursued by police the other night. Law enforcement is often on my mind when there are so many stories of police officers who behave in ways that appear excessive for circumstances.
Businesses usually have job descriptions for their positions within a company. It is detectives whose job descriptions I searched using the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
“Detectives perform investigative duties, such as gathering facts and collecting evidence.
The daily activities of police and detectives vary with their occupational specialty, such as canine units and special weapons and tactics (SWAT). Job duties differ at the local, state, or federal level. Duties differ among federal agencies because they enforce different aspects of the law. Regardless of job duties or location, police officers and detectives at all levels must write reports and keep detailed records that will be needed if they testify in court. Most carry law enforcement tools, such as radios, handcuffs, and guns.”
“Detectives and criminal investigators are uniformed or plainclothes investigators who gather facts and collect evidence for criminal cases. They conduct interviews, examine records, observe the activities of suspects, and participate in raids and arrests. Detectives usually specialize in investigating one type of crime, such as homicide or fraud. Detectives are typically assigned cases on a rotating basis and work on them until an arrest and trial are completed or until the case is dropped.” (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/mobile/police-and-detectives.htm)
In my son’s case, the detectives from the Allegheny County Police General Investigations Unit took the statements of the mother first and then the accuser. The next day they served the arrest warrant and questioned Jacob. A few days later they took a statement from Jacob’s wife.
Discovery materials did not include any DNA, fingerprints or a forensic exam. The night Jacob was questioned, he gave the detectives the names of all the young men who were in the house at the same time of the first accused incident. They never contacted those young men. Obviously, they were not really interested in anything Jacob had to say or any information beyond those accusations.
In their questioning the detectives said ‘you can’t just deny all this’. Did they expect Jacob to confess to things he had not done simply because someone accused him and the might of the criminal justice system was going forward with a case on those lies? The investigation of Jacob’s case ended with statements of the accuser with family and the accused as transcribed by those detectives whose statements had an error in dates and an address. Were there other less obvious errors in their transcriptions of those interviews?
When questioned months later at trial why they had not done any forensics testing or performed a forensics exam, they used words like ‘usually’ and ‘normally’ to explain why they would not find anything and age cutoffs to explain the omission of a forensic exam. Is that good enough when a person’s freedom is at risk? Those who accuse would say yes because my accusation is all you need. The accused would say it is not good enough when my freedom is at risk and the quality of my future life.
As I watched NBC’s Conviction, the episodic account of the case of Richard Rosario, it dawned on me as I listened to an interview with one of the detectives from the case that the police stop collecting evidence if they have enough evidence to pass on to the district attorney. In Rosario’s case, they had an eyewitness identification versus 13 alibi witnesses which would seem to cast doubt on that eyewitness. Did these detectives really not care about this discrepancy. This man could not be in two places at one time.
The detective from Rosario’s case when questioned seemed to be saying that it was not their responsibility to investigate Rosario’s alibi since their case was made on that eyewitness testimony. In other words, they were not after the truth. Some one recently made these statements to me about our police and courts.
“It is not about the truth. It is not about fact. It is about what you can get away with.”
This criminal justice system asked themselves ‘can we put Rosario away on this eyewitness identification without consideration to whether we have the right man?’. The answer was yes. The case was made on misidentification.
Job Security and Money
Perhaps it is that everyone has their role to play. Is it simply about job security and money? The police collect just enough evidence or in my son’s case just an accusation and pass it on to attorneys and judges. Then is up to the accused to hire the most competent lawyer they can afford to try to find things that will help prove or convince a jury of their innocence. That attorney should also prepare his/her client for court presentation because this is theater.
In cases like my son’s it was one person accusing you while you deny the accusations. There was no proof. Remember that it is not about the truth. It is not about fact. It is what you can get away with.
As an accused and his/her family you enter that courtroom with an air of naiveté and leave with a new worldliness of how little truth and fact matter. Inference is as powerful as fact. You have beliefs that are shattered.