Never Talk to the Police: They’re Trained to Lie

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“Police lie. It’s part of their job.”

That statement wasn’t made by an embittered defense attorney after losing a case. Those are the opening words of an essay by former prosecutor Val Van Brocklin in the “training” section of  Officer.com. In fact, that essay is the first installment in a two-part series entitled “Training Cops to Lie,” in which Van Brocklin offers guidance to police officers regarding their supposed right to lie and deceive criminal suspects.

“These investigative lies cover a wide web of deception — a web that can get tangled,” notes the former prosecutor. “Some investigative lies are legal, some are not, and some generate significant disagreement amongst courts, prosecutors, the public and officers themselves.”

“Effective interrogation of a suspect nearly always involves a deception — expressed or implied,” she continues. “The deception is that it’s in a suspect’s best interest to talk to police and confess without an attorney present. It’s not. A completely truthful officer would tell suspects this.”

This underscores the point — which cannot be made too frequently — that people should never talk to the police.

While police are supposedly entitled to lie, it is considered a criminal offense (generally described as “obstruction”) for mundanes to lie to the state’s armed enforcers. Of course, Van Brocklin points out, there can be  “serious consequences” for police who lie; they can be “sanctioned by the courts,” sued, subject to professional discipline, lose the confidence of the public, or even “have evidence suppressed, a case dismissed and a criminal freed.”

Nowhere in her essay does Van Brocklin admit the harm done to innocent people by lying police. As a former prosecutor who now makes her living addressing law enforcement audiences, her sole intent is to teach police how to lie effectively, and protect themselves from negative consequences.

10:16 am on November 17, 2009
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