Have you ever believed in something or someone, and then all of a sudden, your faith is torn apart, and you are made to feel that the faith you had may have been misguided? About 21 years ago, I was a witness to an incident involving another officer. I was notified by IAB of a pending interview. The entire process was professionally handled, and I was treated like a department member by the investigating detectives. At no point did I feel it was a witch hunt and that I or the other officer were targets. I felt the accusations were totally fabricated and were the rantings of an angry liar.
In my career, I have been accused of multiple infractions by inmates and suspects, and I have always had faith that I would be treated fairly by the Department when they investigate these P# 16441 allegations. You actually felt that you were innocent until proven guilty. Now, fast forward to present time, and the number of complaints being generated is at an unbelievable pace. The uptick can be blamed on the current state of the times we live in and a few other reasons.
There is so much propaganda advising inmates on how to file a complaint that it seems like they are empowered to do so. I was advised by an officer that an inmate demanded he be let out of his cell to make a phone call. When the officer refused, the inmate informed the officer that he was going to write him up and get him in trouble. The inmate concocted this story of harsh treatment and even had a few other inmates back up his story. Now the officer has to go into internal affairs and explain the details about this complaint.
There is so much propaganda advising inmates on how to file a complaint that it seems like they are empowered to do so.
Of course, the inmate’s story will sound credible. After all, they have nothing but time on their hands to ensure the story is believable. The officer, on the other hand, only has his word, integrity and reputation to rely on. The officer could be asked why these inmates would lie. Well, if you read a book called Games Criminals Play, then it would be clear. A lot of these complaints could be handled by first-line supervisors instead of turning them into full-blown complaints that are obvious attempts to discredit and demean an officer.
To become a law enforcement professional, we are put through a rigorous hiring process, which includes polygraphs, psychological testing and a stringent and thorough background investigation. Unfortunately, the people we deal with have a different set of criteria. To become our guest, you only have to violate the law or some rule of society.
A lot of our officers are made to feel like they have done something wrong, and sometimes, the questions they are asked are accusatory. I can answer why an inmate and a few of his cohorts would lie — because it is what they do. We answer questions under the threat of termination, and if you lie, you will be fired. What punishment does an inmate face when he is caught in a lie? None.
So, the only thing we can do is stick to our mindset and not allow these people to change what we do and who we are. Imagine attempting to answer questions about an incident that took place six months ago, or in some cases, a year ago. Most of us can’t remember what we had for breakfast two days ago, and now I’m expected to remember an interaction with a subject that is months or years old?
Most of us deal with multiple people on a daily basis, and remembering details from all those interactions is impossible. Many times, the only evidence is a statement from an inmate or suspect, and I really don’t put a lot of stock into those statements. I admire the men and women who do this job on a regular basis. They take pride in what they do, and in my opinion, they are heroes. A famous American once said, “Real heroes don’t wear capes. Real superheroes wear uniforms and badges.”