One communication technique that is seldom included in a police training program, but one that is often employed, is for an officer to simply lie to achieve a desired goal. For example, consider the officer who tells a potential combative suspect that he needs to place him in handcuffs only temporarily while completing some necessary paperwork, and that he will release him when he’s finished. Once the cuffs are secure however, the officer advises the suspect he is in fact under arrest. He lies to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Another example is the officer who advises an abusive husband that his wife does not wish to file a complaint, a lie, and then attempts to get him to admit that he struck her. Of course, once he does, then the husband is placed under arrest. And finally, consider the hostage-taker who gives up after he is informed by the responding officers that the prosecuting attorney has agreed to charge him only with a minor infraction, again, a lie intended to de-escalate the crisis and effect the safe release of the hostage.
The idea of the police lying seems repulsive to some, but to others, especially the police, it is a legitimate method for containing and de-escalating a crisis at times. Is it legal? Absolutely; however, there are limitations on the extent to which the police can lie. The courts have essentially ruled that intrinsic lies, or those lies that misrepresent a person’s connection to a crime in order to gain a confession, are acceptable. For example, telling a suspect that his car was observed by a witness at the scene of the crime, even if not true, is an acceptable intrinsic lie. Extrinsic lies, or those lies that may potentially distort a person’s ability to make a rational choice about confessing to a crime, are mostly not acceptable. For example, threatening to take a mother’s children from her unless she confesses to a crime would likely render the confession inadmissible due to its coercive nature. Some of the relevant court cases on police lying are as follows:
Frazier v. Cupp, 394 U.S. 731 (1969). Holland v. McGinnis, 963 F.2d 1044, 1050-51 (7th Cir. 1992). Lynumn v. Illinois, 372 U.S. 528 (1963). Spano v. New York, 360 U.S. 315 (1959). State v. Kelekolio, 849 P.2d 58, 73 (Haw. 1993). United States v. Flemmi, 225 F.3d 78, 84 (1st Cir. 2000). United States v. Rodman, 519 F.2d 1058; 1975 U.S. App. LEXIS 13204 (1st Cir. 1975).
Discussion Questions: Select one of the following questions and draft (Initial DB thread: 150+ words minimum;
1. Should the police ever resort to the use of lies with vulnerable or mentally ill persons, even if legal and used for the purpose of saving lives?
2. Discuss some ways in which the use of lies by the police could potentially be misused when applied to situations involving the mentally ill or other persons in crisis.
3. Do some basic Internet research on the concept of police “entrapment,” and discuss the differences between entrapment and the legitimate use of lies by the police.
Initial Journal – What do you know about…
Introduction: In order to understand everyone’s current knowledge on a subject, I ask that they write what they know about a topic in 150+ words or more. This allows me to mold the information being taught around the entire class. Complete this assignment before reviewing the Module. In 250 words or more tell me what you know about Crisis Intervention (The Criminal Justice Response to Chaos, Mayhem, and Disorder).
The Assignment: Write what you know about Crisis Intervention (The Criminal Justice Response to Chaos, Mayhem, and Disorder)
This assignment fulfills/supports
Course Outcomes 1-3: You will have demonstrated personal knowledge of Crisis Intervention (The Criminal Justice Response to Chaos, Mayhem, and Disorder).
General Education Competency: Communicate effectively using the conventions of American Standard English in professional and academic environments & demonstrate computer literacy.
Resources Using Journals – Blackboard Student Tutorial
150 words or more.