Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ridiculous, Absolutely Ridiculous

Now, let me put this out first: I do not like pillorying the police. They do a hard job. They occasionally get injured or dead to try and keep the rest of us safe.

However, I find it extremely disturbing what is going on over in Oakland. It was reported today that the Oakland Police Department will not be firing 7 officers who admitted to lying on affidavitsfor search warrants.

Let me make this clear, they were LYING on an affidavit for a search warrant. An affadavit for a search warrant is a statement of the facts which give probably cause sufficient for a judge to issue a search warrant. They are made under oath. That means, they are made under penalty of perjury.

Now, the example that one article uses (I'm not going to give the officer's name here) tells how they would submit search warrant requests to the judge, when the facts contained in those affidavits were false. For example, they would say that tests had confirmed that drugs were present when no tests had been conducted.

That is not a little thing. Its the difference between someone going to jail and not going to jail. In some cases, its the difference between keeping a criminal in jail and allowing a criminal to go free because the warrant, under which all the evidence was later acquired, was based on lies. When that happens, guess what, the criminal goes free.

The argument put forward by an attorney for the officers boils down to this: they weren't trained properly, therefore, they can't be held responsible for mistakes on the warrant application. Excuse me? Take a look at a search warrant application here and here. Notice, down at the bottom of the federal document, it says "Sworn before me". That means it is done under oath (as in I swear to tell the truth the whole truth...). The second one, a California affidavit form, even states that the affiant swears under oath that the facts contained in the affidavit are true.

It's not some rocket science. Its a simple question. At the time, did the people swearing under oath know that the facts were true or that they were not true. Lying under oath is unacceptable for peace officer, especially when it comes to a warrant.

Let me be clear about something. Even if you accept the officer's defense, the City of Oakland has a problem. On the one hand, you have corrupt officers. On the other hand, you have officers who are not trained enough to read the forms they are filling out.

However, it looks like Oakland would rather sweep it all under the rug than make sure the officers it does have on the streets are properly trained. Good job Oakland. I feel so much safer now.

The fact that Oakland has decided to allow these officers back on the job, after a nearly four month long paid administrative leave is ridiculous.

1 comment:

Murray Stokely said...

I thought you were way too harsh on the Macy's, but on this issue I agree completely and am glad you brought this issue up.