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Veracity of Police Officers' Testimony

February 18, 1996

As a police chief and lifetime member of the California Narcotics Officers' Assn., I take exception to the cavalier and irresponsible way in which Joseph McNamara has attacked the veracity and integrity of America's law enforcement officers ("Has the Drug War Created an Officer Liars' Club?" Opinion, Feb. 11).

While serving as a narcotics officer, I made hundreds, and participated in thousands of arrests for possession, possession for sales and being under the influence of illegal drugs. It might surprise McNamara, with his 35 years in law enforcement, that during those years: I not only did not find it necessary, but never contemplated perjury;

That drug users and dealers were indeed dumb enough to consent to a search of their persons and property and did carelessly leave their drugs lying around in plain view; and,

My chief continually reinforced with us his demand that we be above reproach in every action we took, including courtroom testimony.

For someone billed as a research fellow at Stanford University, McNamara's "conclusions" about law enforcement officers committing perjury are based solely on speculation and supposition. As a doctoral candidate, were I to submit to my professors similar deductions based on such feckless hypotheses, I'm sure I'd spend the rest of the term clapping erasers while wearing a dunce cap.

None of my colleagues will tolerate a dishonest cop. With apologies to Alan Dershowitz, none of us will condone, much less encourage, our officers to lie or fabricate evidence. Anyone who is found engaging in such behavior will, and should be, prosecuted and drummed out of the profession.


Chief of Police, South Pasadena *

I wonder, how many officers did McNamara discipline for lying under oath when he was chief in San Jose? It's real easy now that McNamara is out of law enforcement to wildly criticize and say most officers are rogue liars, but what did he do to effect a change when he was in a position to do something about it?

McNamara is correct, however, when he asserted that we officers consider the war on drugs a serious holy war that we as a society just can't afford to lose.



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