The system is supposed to work like this:
1) Suspect commits a crime,
2) Victim calls 911,
3) Police respond,
4) Police investigate,
5) Police make an arrest,
6) District Attorney prosecutes the case
The NYPD has approximately 34,500 officers. It's a massive organization that requires policies and procedures. New York City DA offices are also gigantic offices, some swelling to over 1,000 total employees. It too needs to be guided by written procedures. Both of these groups should be working towards the same goal, which is the equal enforcement of laws and the protection of citizens.
Most of the time, the relationship runs smoothly. The cops arrest the suspects and the ADAs prosecute them in court.
But what about the times it doesn't run like it should? The cop makes an arrest without probable cause? Or illegally searches a citizen? What about the ADA who dumps a case because he/she doesn't do his/her job? What about when the cops commit the crimes? Or the ADA does? How are these cases handled and who is ultimately responsible?
Here are just some illustrations of the problems:
-NYPD officer, Emmanuel Tavarez, conspired to rob drug dealers.
-New Jersey Attorney General indicts New Jersey State Troopers for leading an exotic car race.
-NYPD officers indicted for ticket fixing.
-Spokane police officer convicted of excessive force.
-Prosecutors plead guilty to DWI here and here
It's a tough business being in the public eye. Every one loves when a public official screws up. It makes local and national headlines. All of us need to realize we are held to a higher standard whether we like it or not. I'll admit it; it's an ego boost when you see your name in the paper or watch yourself on the news for a case the media deems important. But like any public figure, the more you are in the media spotlight, the farther the fall if you lose your footing. Check back this week for a post on the prosecution of police officers and the Life of an ADA on a high profile case.