Tuesday, February 2, 2016

If police lie, are they the enemy?

It is fashionable on the internet to trash The System as rotten. I point out that compared to most past times and a great many places in the world today, the US justice system is pretty darn good. The judiciary does a decent job of looking out for the individual against the excesses of government power.

In the US we are all aware of the Miranda Warnings, whereby police must inform suspects of their right to remain silent. What I was not aware of until recently was that the police could lie to a suspect during questioning, admit this to the judge, and the judicial system would think this was just fine.

<This video>  has over 5,000,000 views on YouTube and presents a compelling case for why no one should talk to the police. But I don't believe it emphasizes the point that among the other dangers, the police might lie to you.

Now, police are human beings, and some are even corrupt. As part of living in the real, messy world, I would expect that some will lie. But to have lying officially approved by the courts is something I find quite chilling.

The police argue that this is OK because they are dealing with criminals and it is a tool they need to do their job. A classic lie is to say that unless they confess right away, things will go much harder for them. Another is to say that the person they were with has already confessed. The theory is that innocent people will give honest answers, while guilty people will incriminate themselves. However, people can want to keep secrets out of embarrassment or a desire not to rat on friends. They also may believe they will be convicted even if they are innocent once the police have turned against them. And we are supposed to be guaranteed that we are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Most of us want to teach our children to tell the truth. I wonder how cops answer their questioning teenagers when asked why they are professional liars.

Once lying is accepted as part of police operations, surely there is going to be a tendency to tell a few more lies (maybe the court wouldn't approve but they'll never know...). Why not simply lie about what the suspect said? Why not just make up a confession? Or, why not introduce them to their court-appointed attorney who will give the promise of attorney-client privilege -- who is in fact a policeman and not an attorney at all? And if the courts allow police to lie, a person might begin to question whether they can believe anything a judge says to them either.

An extension of this idea that the police are just lying to people they think are guilty is that their prejudices will shine through and they will lie to people they don't like. Black Americans have serious grievances with US police. Now I as a pedophile realize I am also in a category of people that the police don't like -- and with a vengeance.

To what extent is this a problem specific to the US? Are there countries where the police are not allowed to lie?

I've reluctantly concluded that in the US, to the extent I have to assume the police lie to me or my fellow citizens, they have become the Enemy. And since they condone this police behavior, the judicial system too is an important sense the Enemy.



1 comment:

  1. If it is something I did, I'll confess. If not, I'll ask for a lawyer. That simple. I'm fairly sure someone in my family would cough up the money to pay legal bills. It is TRUE that if you don't confess to a crime you committed, things will be much harder in most cases. If you commit a crime, at least fess up to it.

    I have been interviewed by a school resource officer in my youth. I was quite honest with him about what I did, though I didn't think of it as a crime, and I told him that.

    Turns out the judge liked me. I got 5 hours of community service for charges of disorderly conduct.

    I will never tell the police that I am a pedophile. If questioned about my behavior around children - and if it was inappropriate - I will turn myself in for harassment without stating my sexual leanings. At that point, I'd deserve a fine. I had it coming to me.

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