Does Law Enforcement Really Protect and Serve
Most individuals will not have any contact with a Law Enforcement Officer. Even those that do, through a traffic violation and/or a minor incident will not experience the frustration and life changing experience of the power those that have been entrusted in enforcement of the law really have.
Over the past eleven years as I have been assisting with criminal defense investigations here in Idaho. I have seen an increase in individuals being falsely arrested and wrongly charged.
As a past certified instructor with the Idaho Post Academy in Criminal Investigation and Search and Seizures I know what is taught to those pursuing a career in Law Enforcement.
When an officer is called to investigative a crime, one of his first priorities and duties is to protect the crime scene, identify witnesses, keep those witnesses separate to protect the integrity of their statements and assure that all evidence is collected properly.
It is the duty of the investigative officer to conduct a thorough investigation. He is responsible for documentation and to assure the collection of any and all evidence, and locate and identify any and all witnesses that corroborate the information and/or supports the allegations.
Just this last month I was contacted and asked to review three serious Idaho cases in which law enforcement had made arrest. I found in each of these cases that all the officer did was take a statement from the alleged victim, and based only on that information, made an arrest.
Once an individual is arrested and booked this becomes a permanent record that will follow them for the rest of their lives. When applying for a job they will have to explain why this is on their record. The military will no longer except someone with a criminal record.
This record will remain, even if the person has the charges dropped or the individual is acquitted after going to trial.
I found the investigative officers failed to perform any type of follow up investigations or make any attempt to verify the information that was provided to them.
Once I am contacted, I review the officer reports. Sometimes it is very clear that the person making the allegations, or accusing some one of wrong doing, are actually attempting to get back at the person for some other unrelated reason.
In two of the cases it was obvious that the accusers were seeking monetary reward through civil legal actions.
This is where a good defense investigator having a background in criminal investigations is a huge asset.
Once it has been established that there is a possibility of false allegations, the investigator needs to look further into the reason(s) for the false allegations. Ie; Has this individual attempted this before somewhere else?
Sometimes it may be something as simple as a neighborhood canvas for witnesses. This involves going door to door to neighbors living in the same area. Speaking with the residents inquiring as to what they heard and/or saw.
While reviewing the police photos, look for license plates of vehicles in the background, are there any service vehicles in the background photographs. Are there pictures of individuals in the background that have not been identified?
As an investigator, you might need to be at the same location at the same time and day of the week that he event occurred. Watch for any delivery vehicles.
Check the surrounding area for cameras.
Many of the cases I am seeing now, the individuals have a past record of lying to police. I am finding these records in past contacts with Law Enforcement. You must know how to properly request these public records. If you don’t word the request properly you won’t find the hidden records.
I just recently found a report of lying to police under obstructing and delaying an officer and not providing false information to a law enforcement officer.
All the different areas of law enforcement now document contact with individuals during an investigation. Identify where the individual has been living and request records from those local agencies. You not only want to request the official records you also want the agents or officer’s notes. This is where you will find the information you are most likely looking for.
In the past, I assisted in a homicide investigation where the investigating officers left the shell casings at the crime scene when they left.
Review all the evidence that is in the custody of Law Enforcement. Did they collect everything that was photographed?
Just recently in Twin Falls, Idaho a judge announced a mistrial on a murder trial after it was discovered that the investigating officer failed to photograph blood evidence, and to collect the murder weapon from the crime scene. The murder weapon and blood evidence was found by the victim’s sister after law enforcement had released the crime scene.
When the lead investigator was questioned on the witness stand as to why he didn’t conduct a better investigation his reply was “he didn’t have to. He had enough evidence.”
This is the typical Law Enforcement Investigations I see now when assisting in Defense Criminal Cases. It is like the investigator has stopped a person for speeding and is issuing a traffic summons. “Push Hard 5 Copies” and done.
Law Enforcement doesn’t care about the repercussions they are imposing on individuals by conducting such incomplete, inaccurate, and inept investigations.
With the complexity of forensic evidence, DNA and computer science, going to trial without an experienced investigator doesn’t make sense.
We are here to help you, to make sure that there was a complete and thorough investigations, that you were properly charged and that the proper procedures were followed.