The role of the police in the community is to enforce the laws that keep the community safe, yet in some incidences the police themselves break the law. Sunshine Coast police crime prevention officer Senior Constable Mark Reedman says it comes down to the situation.”Legally, we are exempt from most traffic offences if we’re in the execution of our duties.”Two of the things we can’t do is dangerous or drink driving.”He says each incident depends on the current circumstance.”We have a policy within the service dictated by our Commissioner and there’s policy there that covers exemption circumstances.”For example if we’re on mobile phones or talking on our hand held radios while driving, we could do that if we were doing it for operational reasons.”We could be about to execute a search warrant for a property and we know that our radio communication can be listened into, so we may use our mobile phone as we don’t want to advertise what we are doing.” Due to cases in the past, the laws for police have changed in the last few years.
The headlines lately have brought attention to an age old problem of what to do when police officers behave poorly or local police breaking the law when they are investigating a case. In West Valley City, Utah, many drug related criminal prosecutions were dismissed because the police misconduct in investigating the crimes resulted in the prosecutors stating “we no longer believe we have sufficient credible evidence with which to obtain a conviction.”When an investigating police officer knowingly or inadvertently violates the law, it compromises the investigation and the case. When evidence is gathered illegally, even if it proves that a person is guilty of committing a crime, it cannot be used in court. This is called the exclusionary rule, and its intent is to motivate police officers to play by the rules, or have their efforts be wasted. If you are charged with a crime, and believe that the police officers may have broken the rules relating to properly gather evidence, give me a call. For example, if police search your house or car without a warrant or permission, any evidence gathered is illegal. Likewise, if you have been arrested and are interviewed without having your Miranda rights read to you, any statement you made was gathered illegally. When I review a client’s case, the first thing I look for is whether the evidence was gathered legally. If I believe the officers didn’t follow the law, I file a Motion to suppress the illegal evidence. I have been successful in State and Federal Courts in litigating Suppression Motions, getting evidence thrown out, and having my client’s cases dismissed. Everyone should play by the rules, especially police officers, and when they don’t, there are consequences.