The Negative Consequences of the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights

 

In a recent post entitled ‘Why Firing a Bad Cop is Damn Near Impossible‘, Mike Riggs of Reason.com recounts the now infamous pictures of Rhode Island police officer Edward Krawetz kicking a handcuffed women in the head.

Three years later, in March of 2012, Officer Krawetz was convicted of felony battery, but his 10 year sentence was immediately suspended in lieu of anger management classes. Riggs’ article draws attention to the fact that despite the conviction and public scrutiny, Krawetz was not fired from the Lincoln Police Department, mostly thanks to the “law enforcement bill of rights.”

Both Virginia (9.1-500-507) and Maryland (3.101 – 3.113) have similar Law Enforcement Bill of Rights legislation.

In Virginia, Daniel Harmon-Wright a Culpeper Virginia police officer was charged with killing a Sunday school teacher. During the hiring process, two police officials objected to his hiring, The officer was previously disciplined in 2011 when he chased a 15 year old boy on his way to school and brandished a gun in his face. As of the June 8th article, Harmon-Wright was still on the Culpeper County Police Force, and had just been suspended without pay.

Typical Law Enforcement Bill of Rights legislation gives officers a “cooling off” period prior to answering questions, and gives an officer the name of his complainants AND their testimony long before he is questioned. The officer cannot be questioned for an unreasonable amount of time, by more than one person, and cannot be threatened with disciplinary action during his interrogation.

Such a staggering difference between the rights afforded police officers accused of misconduct and civilians charged with a crime only further serves to create an atmosphere of “above the law” in police departments around the country. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you (unfortunately) do not have the rights afforded to a police officer, but you do have rights afforded to you by the United States Constitution and the state in which you are charged.

The Gowen Group represents clients on criminal charges in Virginia, Maryland and DC. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, call 703-951-7208  or visit our website now for a free consultation.