That’s right children, its scandal time once again in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This time, Det. Albury Augustus Burrrows, of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, was arrested for grand theft charges. Even though these charges are felony offenses, Det. Burrows was released on a $1,000.00 bond.
(Photo Courtesy, Sun-Sentinel.com and the Broward Sheriff’s Office)
It is important to emphasize, that like the people he arrested for the past 11 years, Det. Burrows is innocent until proven guilty.
However, I am not surprised to learn that yet another BSO deputy has been arrested for a felony offense, especially one that involves moral turpitude. For some reason, this county routinely turns a blind eye to the rampant corruption that occurs on a daily basis in our police departments. Unless of course a cop is caught red handed or the corruption is so obvious that even when you turn your cheek, it is still staring you right in the eyes.
Of course, as a criminal defense lawyer, I have the benefit of seeing both sides of a case.
While there are plenty of cops who pocket cash from people they arrest and there are plenty of cops who create violent situations that quickly turn into arrests for battery on a police officer (don’t you love how that works?) and there are cops who routinely force hookers to perform oral sex on them in exchange for not placing them under arrest, the most common form of police corruption is done with a pen. “Creative report writing” is the singularly most common form of police misconduct around.
Now I know what you are thinking: big deal.
The truth is that creative writing in police reports is a big deal. If a cop lied about you in a report and you were charged with a crime as a result, I am sure it would be a big deal to you. But this isn’t about ego. This is about police officers who violate the law and then fill in the blanks with lies or a smudging of the truth to make a case stick.
For instance, driving while black becomes running a stop sign, failure to maintain a single lane, or a seat belt violation. Illegal searches of private property become consent searches that cannot be verified. Custodial interrogation without an attorney present becomes a spontaneous statement made by the defendant.
Exercising your rights by choosing to remain silent or denying police permission to enter your property becomes obstruction of justice. Refusing to sign a consent to search form garners questions about your immigration status.
Frankly, as a lawyer who has practiced in criminal law for many years, both as a prosecutor and as a criminal defense attorney, I can tell you that I am sick of the bullshit. What offends me even more than lying cops are prosecutors who turn a blind eye when they should know better. Or prosecutors who know a case should be dropped but refuse to do so to shield the police departments from lawsuits for false arrest.
Let me be clear, there are many good prosecutors out there who do phenomenal work for society. Moreover, I do not place any blame on prosecutors who are just doing their job or who have no reason to suspect that an officer is dishonest. However, I do take issue with prosecutors who throw reason out the window and blindly follow their police witnesses over the cliff of willful ignorance in the name of justice.
Don’t they realize when a cop lies in a police report he commits a crime?
What makes this system of police dishonesty and prosecutorial ignorance even more offensive is the fact that they are supposed to be the “good guys.” The truth of the matter is that cops are people like the rest of us. In many instances the only difference between a cop and a criminal is the uniform.
Now let me say this (and yes its a disclaimer to address those readers who got their feathers in a knot from this blog entry): Not all cops are bad. In fact, I would say most are good, well intentioned, honorable people. But there is a sizable chunk of corruption that is harbored in their ranks.
They know it. We know it.
I think the corruption would be more palatable if it were just a little bit more honest. That’s right, I like my criminals to be honest. Call me crazy.
Maybe I wouldn’t mind the steeling money from drug dealers, the illegal searches of kiddie porn users, or the oral sex from hookers as much if cops just didn’t lie about it and prosecutors didn’t pretend like nothing bad is ever done by your friendly neighborhood policeman.
In any event, this is my rant for the day. Police corruption pisses me off to no end because I believe we, the community, deserve a lot better than this.