General Council At Disciplinary Hearings
So many good cops have lost their jobs, pension, deferred compensation, union benefits, and health care for life in the one second they make a wrong decision. Then on top of losing all these benefits, cops all to often go to jail. Sometimes it is best to have someone you can talk to under the protection of the law of attorney-client privilege. Once an attorney – client relationship is established it is “bullet proof.” So long as I am not told of a crime about to be committed, your intention to hurt yourself or others, almost anything else is covered by attorney – client privilege. Similar to your clergyman or woman, and at one time your doctor (the state has invaded physician/patient privilege in their effort to curtail the misuse of prescription drugs. It is a subtle invasion of your privacy and off topic herein). Nevertheless the sanctity of private communications between doctor and patient is being slowly and subtly eaten away by the state. Conversations with your clergy and attorney are still protected.
The stress of a cop’s life is something a person never being a cop will never be able to understand. A kick, punch, or even putting the cuffs on “too tight,” in this day of cell phones and cameras everywhere puts the cop’s movements and decisions under a microscope. The Mayor is telling cops to take mints to calm down, at the same time as cops are being killed. How many cops have been killed this year? In Baltimore 6 cops were charged with various degrees of homicide to appease the mobs of the city. The attorney for the city in announcing the scapegoating of this cops used the term “no justice, no peace.”
It helps to have an attorney you can talk to before you make that mistake or worse, the perceived mistake. Someone you can talk to who by law cannot divulge the contents of your conversation. Years back a white Bronx cop shot someone with a simulated pistol who had been drinking and threatening to shoot people. The cop was summoned to the scene by the local neighborhood (black and Hispanic). The person pulled out the simulated gun, on the white cop’s partner who approached him (to frisk him, which is now an issue under the current political climate). The white cop shot and killed the man with the simulated pistol. Thinking he was saving his partner. Remember however, everyone in the neighborhood that the man had a real gun.
Naturally, there were claims of racism (notwithstanding the very people who cried racism were the ones who called the police). Rumor was that Al Sharpton (he was unknown at the time) was going to demonstrate. The Twana Brawly scandle broke and Sharpton started his career. What however, happened to the cop who shot the man with the fake gun. The New York Times wrote a scathing article as to what a bad guy this cop was. What the New York Times deliberately failed to mention was that the cop’s partner was black. This however (given the political climate at the time) did not stop the Bronx District from bringing the cop before the Grand Jury. Fortunately, the Grand Jury refused to indict. Until that time however, the cop went through his own personal hell.
It is sometimes good and comforting to have a person you can share your inner thoughts, feelings and fears with. Someone who is legally bound to keep you secret, and who knows the law. Someone outside the Department, and who is not on the City payroll. Remember the city pays the prosecutors, the delegates (indirectly), and trial room judges. Moreover, if the union does not pay for an attorney who do you call. Someone a friend recommends, or whoever sounds the best on TV?
You need an attorney who knows the law, who knows the way the Department thinks, the way IAB thinks, and the way the DA’s office thinks. An independent advisor who knows what you are going through, be it (hopefully never) a shooting, or just a problem with a boss. Sometimes just someone to talk to who is legally bound to keep your secret. What if you know of a cop selling drugs? Who do you talk to? No one wants to rat on a fellow cop, especially if they are friendly. Yet, the orders are that you report this to IAB. You can not talk to a fellow cop, as if you do you put him in the same spot as you, you can not talk to a boss “off the record” (do you really think the boss will risk his career for you)? You can talk to a clergyman or woman, but he or she does not understand police culture. Or, you can talk to an attorney, with trial and appellate experience, who lived twenty years with the police culture, knows the law, and will keep your confidences.
In sum, sometimes it is just good to have a person you can trust implicitly, will not break a confidence, knows the law, and owes nothing to anyone except you. Furthermore, in an emergency will be there for you 24/7.