It is worth the time. Be consistent with your tone and show respect to both the prosecutor and defense attorney. He has spent the last 21 years of his career in Homicide. I’ve never even considered counting how many times I’ve asked someone something. Many police officers feel that having a pretrial meeting with the prosecutor is a waste of their time when the prosecutor can just read their report. Evaluating Police Training Effectiveness, Abnormal Breathing Recognition for Law Enforcement, public speaking anxiety affects about 73% of the population, make sure all appropriate materials are provided to the defense. This is an area where many inexperienced officers end up walking out of the building feeling like the prosecutor is either a) the enemy, or b) uncaring, c) stupid, or possibly all of the above. Defense attorneys love to ask officers what their client was doing or thinking before the officer arrived on scene. You can be sure that the defense attorney will be reading your report in preparation for trial. This is why it can help to think of a court appearance as a test. When you are on the stand, you will be asked about several specific details of the case, including dates, times, and addresses. A deputy with the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office was badly injured when her patrol vehicle collided head-on with a minivan early Tuesday morning. Additionally, review any relevant video and take notes if necessary. So project that to the prosecutor. Wouldn’t it be better to go to trial and lose than to never make the attempt at all? Admitting that you don’t know will, once again, make you look honest and straightforward to the jury. Try to get a meeting or lunch with a defense attorney and ask her how she and her colleagues like to attack a case. Remember When Police Officers Were Hailed As The Good Guys? When factual attacks are not working for the defense lawyer, they may attack your knowledge of laws, policies and procedures. You want to be seen by them as trustworthy and honest. You’ll look and feel like a professional later.If you’re an investigator, this type of preparation should go without saying. If you are the lead investigator in a difficult homicide that took two years to close, you could be studying for hours, poring over reports and statements, calling the prosecutor with ideas, concerns, and things he might not have seen or considered. Many times, officers find themselves arguing with defense attorneys because they answered a question that wasn’t asked. We are no longer asking the questions—we’re answering them. Again, more is better, because you won’t get grilled for noting too much, but you will get embarrassed if you pass something over and it turns out to be of even minor importance. The ability to explain the reasons for your decisions can be the difference between the judge letting a piece of evidence in or not. If you feel strongly about the fact that the guy who swung a 2x4 at you needs to spend time in prison for it, then don’t give in when the prosecutor starts to hem and haw about this sentencing guideline and that, and about how it’s his first offense, and about how the jury might identify with him because of this or that. If they walk off with your papers, ask for them back. When juries are listening to testimony, they are making judgments about who to believe. The key to working with a prosecutor involves two important elements: One, know your case, and, two, be confident in it. If the question is a compound question or not comprehensible, ask for clarification. An officer with the Alexandria (VA) Police Department is listed in fair and stable condition after exchanging gunfire with an assailant early Monday morning. You’ve got the power there. Next to federally mandated training, court might be at the bottom of most cops’ popularity list. Everyone in the courtroom will understand why you don’t know the answer to that question. Mr. Vukelic has written a text that will help guide a new, or seasoned police officer, through often-complicated process involving giving testimony or depositions. Let’s face it, the phrase “going to court” usually includes depositions and pre-trial conferences as well as trials. What makes our role in court so important? I’ve learned about a secret process to flag police officers with past misconduct/credibility issues before they testify in court. This is like the open book part of the test. If you have even a slight negative mark in your personnel file, let the prosecutor know early. Most of the time, when you guess, you make things worse. When he does, agree. Treat the defense lawyer like you treat the prosecutor. The attorneys control the trial, refereed by the judge, who decides whether we answer, whether evidence comes in or stays out. By meeting with the prosecutor prior to trial, you can accurately explain what happened or point out these important details. More important than all these things put together, however, is whether the suspect was in custody or not during the interview. Even prior to this meeting, familiarize yourself with your case report. Perhaps the most critical of court-related issues centers around dealing with suspects, their actions, their statements, and their status. They don’t see the terror and despair in the victims’ faces; they haven’t experienced the agony of a next-of-kin who has just lost a loved one to a vicious murder. All this information will allow you to better prepare for court. It takes labeling files, organizing them so you can find the information, and making sure that you have reports from all your support personnel, like crime scene, the medical examiner, other agencies, etc. Policing can be thrilling and adrenaline-packed. First try to see what’s happening from the other side of the table. April 1, 2006 Again: document, document, document.[PAGEBREAK]. If you have ever taken an open-book test without preparing for it, you may have found yourself scrambling for answers. There is no other way to describe it other than the dreaded word “study.” That might take you five minutes, if you were an assisting officer who saw your partner retrieve a gun from under the subject’s seat and it’s a concealed weapon charge. All those ideas are foreign to them. For example, if there is a question of how much to rope off, always go for bigger rather than smaller. Don’t chew gum. Find out what they expect in a witness and what they hope for in a police witness. What was your reason for approaching on the right side of the car as opposed to the left side? Oh, how we hate the loathsome depo. If only it were so, right? An officer with the Shannon (LA) Police Department is being lauded for helping set up "little libraries" for local kids to get access to books even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Website Design by Ardent Creative. Knowledge is easily defendable, but it takes proactive measures. If you are confident in your decisions, and you have explained your reasons, then stick to it! Few of us really enjoy going to court. During an interview, I am more tuned in to what the other person is saying.” Show the jury that you are a professional and that your goal is to get to the truth.[PAGEBREAK]. At some point, every officer will get called to testify. Don’t take personally anything a defense counsel says. ... Kaylee Smith is the newest officer with the Dunlap (TN) Police Department and may be the first female officer to work for the agency, according to a post on Facebook. Knowledge of laws, policies and procedures You don’t know what has gone on in the courtroom when other witnesses were testifying, so let the attorneys decide what information the jury needs to hear from you. If there is a bona fide weakness in the case, all you can do is minimize it and try to maximize the good stuff you have. Police Officer Testimony in Traffic Trials. Defense attorneys have much more leeway—since the jury is not present—and they will try to exploit whatever weaknesses, contradictions, or inconsistencies they can find to have the evidence or testimony thrown out.
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