WNBC New York reported yesterday that a Morristown, New Jersey, police officer lost his badge for shoplifting eight breakfast sandwiches from a convenience store. The prosecutor was reported as saying that the plea he entered “represents the fact that no one is above the law.”
So police officers are human… They are sinners like the rest of us. Does this mean that all police officers shoplift? No. But it does mean that they have the same problems, faults, regrets, and wrongdoings as the rest of the general public. And when they are caught in something like this, generally they are prosecuted like the rest of us.
However, where the big difference lies is when laws are broken related to their work as a law enforcement officer. What about the situation where a police officer tells a little white lie on the witness stand in order to validate the search or seizure of some guy who possessed drugs? That is a crime. In fact it is a serious crime – perjury. What about the situation where a person runs their mouth to a police officer and the officer arrests that person just out of spite – but for the charges off “obstruction” of the duties of a police officer? Did that officer not commit a kidnapping? A false imprisonment? An illegal arrest? The fact is, that these crimes are committed by law enforcement officers everyday around the country, and nothing is done about it because the persons charged with enforcing the laws – the cops and the prosecutors – are one in the same, and are not going to investigate or prosecute themselves or their buddies unless they have no choice. And as they see it, what is the harm when you know the person is guilty in the first place? And they are serving the public, right? Why punish some poor cop who is just trying to serve and protect? What motive would they have to ever lie or commit any crime?
The fact is, that society – and the judicial system – likes to pretend that cops are perfect, that they are perfect beings, formed in the likeness of Jesus Christ. That they would never, ever, lie under oath, that they would never, ever, use their badge and gun for their own personal gain or to hurt another who has gotten under their skin. But we, as people with common sense, and as people who observe things with our own eyes know better. We know they make mistakes and commit crimes, and do things they are later ashamed of – just like every other human on the planet.
So who are they kidding? Jurors – if they can get away with it.
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney