Superior Police Add ‘Honesty’ To Job Description To Prevent Doubt In Criminal Cases
It's a given, right? The police officers that protect us and keep us safe are honest about their actions as well. It's an assumption we all have - and probably with good reason. But recently it's become a legal-sticking point in criminal cases, sometimes allowing suspects facing charges to get those charges thrown out of court.
That's why the Superior Police Department is following a national trend, adding 'honesty' to the official job description for sworn officers and other select staffing positions.
The new standard for the affected job descriptions was proposed to the Superior Police and Fire Commission on March 9. The Human Resources Committee approved the changes to the job descriptions on March 20. According to details shared in the article in the Superior Telegram [paywall], the committee does not need to seek a vote by the City Council; they have the authority to make the change.
With the change, the department acknowledges that it may have seemed a foregone conclusion, but the addition of the 'honesty' requirement has become a necessity in today's litigious environment. Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander explains:
"It would kind of sound like something everyone would expect a police officer to be able to do. We want officers to have honesty and integrity. We have another policy in the department that really does cover those things, but we thought it should be something that's in the job description."
The change to the job description also makes it more difficult for a criminal defense attorneys to question the honesty standards of an of the officers involved in a case. The article in the Telegram details that there have been some court cases that have "require[d] prosecutors to disclose evidence that could cast doubt on the accuracy or law enforcement witnesses during discovery".
WIthout a specific pledge in the job description for officers, a defense attorney could potentially call their honesty into question - suggesting that the officer isn't held to that standard; that could throw a criminal case in a totally different direction.
The change of job description will affect Superior's "police and master officers, detectives and master detectives, sergeants, lieutenants, captains, assistant chiefs, and the police chief".