Can Lying for Justice Change You?

Police lie as an accepted necessity in investigating covert criminal activity. Can lying as part of your job change you? For better or worse? Val Van Brockllin continues to explore the high stakes, complex questions raised in law enforcement’s use of...

Work with garbage every day, throw yourself into the thick of it, and there's an increased chance some of the stench will rub off. The trick in the last two quotes above is to keep feeling. There's a t-shirt you can buy at Sally's Cop Shop across the road from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. It reads,

What did you feel when you shot that man, officer?

We understand the need to inure ourselves to the tougher aspects of policing. But if the price is not feeling, drug and alcohol abuse, and failed relationships at work and home, we've failed recruits and officers.

Are we properly preparing officers for the psychological affects of lying?

Law enforcement would not consider permitting an officer who first qualified on the range as a recruit to complete her career and retire (if she lived that long) without ever training or qualifying with a firearm again and without any continuing education on the legal use of force. Yet we do regularly do this in the high stakes area of police deception - often without even providing initial training in the academy on the well-documented aspect of the impact of lying as a regular part of one's job.

Stay tuned

We've already looked at some legal guidelines for the use of police deception. Coming soon on we'll explore some practical guidelines for the ethical use of police deception. We'll also look at what departments and agencies need to be doing to prepare officers before they enter this arena. The stakes are high. Officers can lose their jobs, be sanctioned by the court, have a case against a serious felony offender dismissed, and have their personal and professional lives disintegrate.

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