Now that you know you'll not be entering
a profession filled with perfect truth
seekers -- as if any such profession
exists -- you can put integrity at the very
top of your list of goals.  Since you're
not perfect, you will make mistakes.  
However, as long as your mistakes are
made in good faith, and you acknowledge
and correct those mistakes, facts and
truth will serve you well throughout your

Police departments have many rules and
regulations which are violated by police
officers with regularity.  While many are
ignored by everybody and go
unenforced, you may find yourself
accused of a violation of which you are
guilty, but since you're maintaining a high
level of integrity, it's going to be one of
the minor violations.  You'll be
aggravated since your violation is one of
those regularly violated by many.  Oh,
well...that's just the way it goes
sometimes.  You'll take the punishment
and learn from the mistake.

Even though you maintain the highest
levels of integrity and professionalism,
there will come a time(s) when you'll be
falsely accused of something.  The first
false allegation may come early in your
career or late in your career, but it, or
they, will come.  Never forget that you'll
be operating among the lowest forms of
humanity, and the liars are the lowest of
them all.

The most serious allegations usually
involve money, drugs, sex, and lies, or
some combination thereof.  Get use to
this right now...there is no such thing as
a presumption of innocence for a police
officer.  When you're subjected to a false
allegation(s), you must be prepared to
prove your innocence.  Your best defense
against the inevitable will be your
reputation for truthfulness.  From the
beginning, you must never do, or say,
anything that could reflect negatively on
your credibility.

Police officers are just like anyone else
when it comes to being people.  People
often say things in jest, or they agree
with others just to be polite.  You should
remember that just as you're --
technically -- on duty 24 hours a day,
your statements and your perceived
views on anything are under scrutiny 24
hours a day.

Once upon a time, there were two young
police officers who made a bet on which
one would be the first to shoot a bad
guy.  No one took their banter seriously,
because both young men were decent
human beings.  Their youth and
inexperience prevented them from
realizing that their recently chosen
profession made a deadly force
circumstance a real possibility.

That stupid bet was only mentioned a
couple of times and forgotten...or so one
might believe.  Months later on a cold
winter night, one of the officers
responded to a call where he was
confronted by an elderly man holding a
double barrel 12 gauge shotgun.  The
officer drew his revolver and ordered the
man to drop the gun.

No one would ever know why the old guy
failed to obey a uniformed police officer
pointing a gun at him.  As the man began
to raise the shotgun to his shoulder, the
officer screamed his order again.  The
man failed to respond, and the officer
fired his revolver.  There seemed to be
no effect, and as the man continued to
point the shotgun at the officer, the
officer fired again, and again; until, his six
shot revolver was empty.  

Incredibly, the man still stood, and he
was still pointing the shotgun.  Can you
even begin to imagine how that police
officer felt at that moment?  One
indication might be the final condition of
the officer's heavy winter uniform coat.  
Every button on the coat was ripped
away in the officer's desperate effort to
reach his ammunition pouch to reload his

Before the officer could reload one bullet,
the old man collapsed.  All six rounds
fired by the officer had struck the man,
and the wounds were fatal.  This incident
spread tragedy all around.  One man was
dead, and one man was traumatized.  It
turned out the shotgun was not loaded,
and no reason was ever determined why
the man acted as he did.

As tragic as the circumstances were, the
officer was justified in his use of deadly
force; until, someone mentioned the bet
from months earlier.  Yea...cops.  That
revelation put the department's
investigators and the prosecutor into
high gear.  After months of investigation
failed to make the evidence fit a desired
outcome, the officer's ordeal ended...or,
did it?

While the officer was reinstated, his
career was effectively ended, and he
knew it.  He would eventually resign and
move on to parts unknown.  One can
only hope that his hard learned lesson in
semantics would serve him well in the
While the use of deadly force often goes
well beyond mere justification, it is
statistically low on your list of perils.  As
long as you're not a thief, into drugs, or
a liar, you won't be that susceptible
regarding those allegations.  However, if
you're a man, you'll always be susceptible
to allegations of sexual misconduct.  If
you ever become the victim of a false
allegation of sexual misconduct, you'll
find that simply being a man creates the
presumption of guilt.  There need not be
a credible accuser or any other type of
evidence to ignite the perverse
imaginations of investigators and

As a police officer, you'll be very
disappointed to learn that your conduct,
or alleged misconduct, will be investigated
and judged on a much lower threshold
than that of most criminals.  The first
time you're falsely accused of something,
you'll gain an instant appreciation of the
Constitution and its individual
safeguards; although, you'll learn that
police investigators and prosecutors have
little regard for those safeguards when it
comes to you.
The third form of jeopardy is mild in
comparison to the first two, because it
can't send you to jail.  Your department
will have a process for an administrative
proceeding.  A police department will go
to great lengths in presenting a process
that projects an image of fairness and
impartiality.  It fact, it's merely a rubber
stamp in most instances with the
outcome predetermined.  However, police
officers are acquitted more times than
one might think given such a rigged
structure.  Frequently, the credibility of
the accuser(s) is so weak, or the
evidence is so weak, contrived, or
non-existent that one would wonder why
the hearing process proceeded at all.

There's a very simple explanation.  Since
everyone knows that cops aren't perfect,
politicians, prosecutors, and police
management feel compelled to maintain
an unacknowledged termination quota to
project an image of police policing the
police.  The only problem is that there's
no one to police those who are
determining who fills the quota, and
quotas are, by their very nature, selective
and corrupt to varying degrees.

Many years ago, a young police officer
found himself assigned to sit on a three
member departmental trial board
comprised of himself, a lieutenant, and a
command officer.  The first trial was
pretty easy.  The case was terribly
presented, and he and the lieutenant had
no problem finding the accused officer
not guilty.  The officer was a bit
perplexed when the command officer
voted guilty since he'd indicated
agreement with the not guilty verdict
during deliberation.  The command
officer's guilty vote didn't mean anything
since the majority vote determined the
accused officer's fate.

The officer's second experience at
judging one of his own wasn't easy at
all.  While the accused officer wasn't a
bad person, he was simply guilty, and his
bad judgement simply precluded him
from continuing a police career.

The third trial, like the first, was a farce,
and the accused officer was acquitted.  
However, the officer noted that this
command officer also voted guilty on all
charges like the other had done, and
under the same circumstances.

Then came an order to attend a seminar
for trial board members.  The seminar
was conducted by the department's chief
legal advisor.  The young officer would
never forget the legal advisor's opening
statement, "The only thing you guys
have to remember is that you're here to
find people guilty."  The legal advisor
went on to brag that the department had
been sued less than any other police
department in the region and
surrounding states.  He attributed the
department's success to its high rate of
trial board convictions.

As the legal advisor continued on his
theme of guilty, guilty, the young officer
wondered when he'd get into discussing
rules of evidence and other things
associated with a legal proceeding.  The
officer then made a blunder by raising his
hand and asking a question.  His
question went unanswered, and the
officer would never again sit on a trial

While the officer would never again sit in
judgment during a long and productive
career, he never had to sit on the other
side of a trail board either.

In your quest to protect yourself from
being falsely accused, you don't need to
become cynical and paranoid.  Are you
laughing yet?  Seriously, you don't.  You
can have trust in people.  Just never
trust anyone with important matters.  
Only a fool would trust anyone when it
comes to one's career...or liberty.

There will come a time(s) when you'll be
directed to do or report something you
realize is less than proper or truthful.  
Many police officers will follow bad
direction from a supervisor by trusting in
the supervisor to support their actions
should they ever come into question.  
Some of those same officers are
devastated when the supervisor develops
amnesia or simply denies giving the
questionable direction.

It's not that hard!  You're the master of
your destiny.
Have you ever stopped to think how
you'd feel if you were falsely accused of a
crime?  As a police officer, you'll be taking
on the awesome responsibility of a fact
seeker who must always put truth ahead
of everything else.  Unfortunately...you're
going to learn that not all police officers
take this responsibility as seriously as
they should.  Police officers can be as
lazy and incompetent as anyone else,
and, yes...some even lie.
There's another thing you should realize.  
The Constitution guarantees that no
person will be subjected to double
jeopardy; no person can be tried twice
for the same crime.  It's different for a
police officer, for you'll always be subject
to triple jeopardy.  You know the first
which applies to everyone.  The second is
prosecution for civil rights violations.  I
know, the Supreme Court says it's not
double jeopardy, but try to convince a
police officer who's been acquitted in a
State Court only to be tried a second
time in a Federal Court.  Since
prosecutions for civil rights violations are
reserved almost exclusively for police
officers, it's okay.
"Even though you maintain the
highest levels of integrity and
professionalism, there will come a
time(s) when you'll be falsely
accused of something."
~ Barry M. Baker
Copyright © 2016  Barry M. Baker