By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
This week I’m counting down some of the top police attitudes I see as a criminal defense lawyer in cases I handle. Again, these are in no particular order of frequency or importance.
One theme I’ve discussed several times in this series of blogs is how the pressures of law enforcement can pull, push, stretch and bend officers in every different direction. Police see the ugly underbelly of humanity and it shapes how they view the world.
Today’s attitude is no different.
#1 — Scumbag Mode
Police are at their most disappointing when they are in what I call “scumbag mode.” It is self explanatory. They think they’re dealing with a scumbag and they treat the person as such.
What I don’t always see with an officer in scumbag mode is an officer who is downright aggressive. Instead, many are passive aggressive allowing the suspect to think they are in control. What the suspect doesn’t know is they are already trapped in a spider’s web.
But we can tell they are in scumbag mode because of how they act or what they say. Evidence of innocence gets crumpled up and pitched right into the trash can. They call tow trucks once they go back to their squad cars. They game plan with other officers about the arrest… then they go right back out to the defendant and pretend he or she can talk their way out of trouble.
The hardest things to get juries to understand about when an officer goes into this mode are three things — first is the degree of often passive-aggressive manipulation; second is their bias causes them to distort evidence against the accused; and finally — jurors don’t want to believe police are manipulative or that they’re not objective.
Now, in fairness… police think this way probably as a survival mechanism. They see the underbelly of humanity and much of the time — their instinct and hunches are right about dealing with a scumbag more often than they are wrong.
What happens when the police go into “scumbag” mode and they’re not dealing with a scumbag? They arrest people doing nothing wrong in Starbucks. What is more likely than a national scandal is police hassling a young person, a non-conformist, or as all too often is the case, a minority for much longer than they’d deal with a soccer-mom from the suburbs.
Next time you see a story about police hassling someone for far too long remember they’re doing it because of their job pressures and because they’ve been triggered to go into their “scumbag” mode.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas.