Strict Discipline For Cops Who Lie In Court

I recently read an article in the Toronto Star in which a judge in Ontario had occasion to comment on a police officer’s testimony and concluded that it was far less than honest (my words).  It made me think of what employment consequence should occur when an officer shows up to court  and lies under oath to judicial officers.

Police officers are “employees” who perform statutory and other functions. Theirs is often a thankless job; and their is a powerful one.Police officers are handed guns and given sweeping powers to exercise their job junctions. Their workplaces vary, but for the ordinary police corporal, the alleys of the streets are their workplaces. 

Cops perform a touch job. Hindsight is 20/20 for those not faced with making split second decisions. Cut cops some slack when they mess up. The big exception is when a police officer in the discharge of her or his duty shows up to court and fabricate evidence, including outright lying about the events. 

It should never be left up to skilled cross examiners to unearth a police officer’s lies told in open court. Cops should never lie in court. Let’s be clear a police officer who lies in open court is not doing so for the benefit of the accused, particularly in a criminal case. The intention is quite the reverse.  Failing to uncover the lies told in court by a minority of police officers can and often does have long-term consequences not only in terms of sentence, but also in terms of the person convicted future life quality, inclusive of liberty.

Police service should take a zero tolerance approach to disciplining officers who show up to court and lie, particularly where it is proven that the officer lied.  There is an old employment principle called revelation of character upon which every police force should rely when it is proven that a police officer lied in court in the course of giving evidence, even if only once. Cops should not be above the law. Police organizations should not be complicit and sanction bad behaviour by police officers who abuse their functions, and show up to court and lie to cement that abuse. A better approach is to discharge, every police officer found to have lied in court while giving evidence. Leave it up to the applicable police association to grieve.

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