A new policy from the Salt Lake County district attorney’s office will soon require police officers to answer questions regarding their credibility as witnesses before going to court.
Officers who are subpoenaed to testify will be asked to reveal if they’ve ever been caught lying or being deceitful.
Personally, I think every person in the courtroom (except the recorder, the bailiff and those who aren’t yet aware that they’re in the wrong courtroom) should have to fill out that questionnaire.
What? Yes, especially the lawyers.
I’ve been a cop. I would have gladly filled out the questionnaire for the simple reason that I never lied in my official capacity. The truth was always way more entertaining.
For example, I began my police career in a rural county of Utah which I shall not name because it’s where God practiced making people before he got really good at it. At least a third of the population had brains that belonged in bell jars at a medical college.
Shortly after I was hired, the police chief quit, and we got a new one. They couldn’t have been more opposite in personalities, and it wasn’t long before Chief Two got on my nerves.
One morning, when Chief Two was in his small office talking to some people, he moved a stack of papers on his desk. When he did, at least two people, including the secretary, screamed.
Neatly arranged under the desk’s glass top (and below the aforementioned papers) was a pornographic picture of — well, let’s leave it at that.
I worked the night shift, so I was still asleep when he called my house incoherent with rage. Spittle came through the phone as he accused me of placing the photo under the glass to embarrass him.
“Don’t even try to lie your way out of this!” he bellowed.
Why would I? There were only three cops in the entire town, two of whom were talking to each other on the phone. The other one was on vacation in another country.
Chief Two • “You did it, didn’t you? You put that picture there.”
Me • “I sure did.”
Chief Two • “Don’t give me that. I know you did it.”
After a few more lathered minutes, he finally realized I was confessing. I had found the magazine in the road during the night and the thought of what to do with it just popped into my head.
Still in a rage, Chief Two informed me that I was suspended from duty for a week. I had it coming, but I ended up having to work that week anyway because we were shorthanded.
Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s the way the Old Man raised me — that it’s easier to lie your way into trouble than it is to lie your way out of it.
There was a guaranteed way to get fired as a cop and that was to lie to your boss. The punishment was always easier to take. So I always confessed, even when it cost me.
Yes, I convinced a bunch of lost German tourists that they were in Colorado and not Utah. Yes, I taped “Ghostbusters” posters to the sides of a lieutenant’s patrol car.
And, yes, I used a department M14 rifle and 40 rounds to herd cows off a highway, none of which got killed, but some of which might still be on their way to California.
Yes, I hit a window-peeper in the head with a marble fired from a Wrist Rocket. It was me. I did it. You got me.
As wrong as this stuff was, none of my personnel file ever came up when I testified in court. I wish it had. It would have made the proceedings a lot more interesting.