Homer Alaska - Letters

Story last updated at 4:12 PM on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Judicial system has problems

Homer is our town. It belongs to all of us who live here. You dont have to be a business owner or work for the city. If you live here, you are a citizen of Homer. As citizens we have responsibilities including making sure our justice system is fair and efficient.

Our judicial system has big problems. One friend said shed served on two juries in Homer that acquitted people she suspected of being guilty, because evidence showed the local police officers had lied, and so jurors didnt believe the prosecutors evidence.

Higher courts have ruled that police officers can lie to subjects when they question them. For instance, an officer can tell a subject, Your partner told me you committed this crime, when the partner never said such a thing. Such a lie may be useful for putting away alleged criminals, but it is equally useful for pressuring the innocent into confessions.

I feel that police lies lead to many abuses of the justice system, turning it into an injustice system. The trouble is, lying quickly becomes a bad habit, especially when an officer believes a lie will put away bad guys. A lie almost always backfires, however, and results in injustice: either innocents are convicted or the guilty let go. Either way, as citizens we need to protest lying as a misuse of police power.

A police officer once told a friend of mine that he doesnt work for the people of Homer, he works for the city administration. Fine. The chief of police works for the city manager, and the city manager works for the city council. The city council works for the citizens of Homer. We citizens have the power and the duty to make justice work in our town.

I suggest that past lies by the police be forgiven, but that any future lies in police reports or in court testimony result in immediate dismissal of the lying officer. It wouldnt take long for such a policy, strictly enforced, to change the culture of our police department and help them do their job of enforcing the law fairly.

We need a good, honest police force in Homer and I think most officers are honest. But too much dishonesty has occurred in Homers past, and we must demand that it cease.

Bumppo Bremicker