Bad apples or bad system?
“I really think we should not need a Brady list, because there should be no such thing as a police agency that keeps cops with histories of lying, or false arrests, or brutality, or fabricating reports, or other misconduct,” – Anita Khandelwal, director of the King County Department of Public Defense.” – Crosscut.com
Almost 200 Washington state law enforcement officers have been placed on the Brady list, a list of officers who may not be considered trustworthy in a court of law.
USA Today in an extensive investigation found that “thousands of people have faced criminal charges or have gone to prison based in part on testimony from law enforcement officers deemed to have credibility problems by their bosses or by prosecutors.”
Although these officers have proven themselves unsafe for the public, law enforcement agencies continue to employ and rehire untrustworthy officers and take no real accountability for the abhorrent and violent behavior committed by officers.
“The lists are not designed to track people who should not be officers. Rather they are a tool prosecutors use to identify those whose past conduct might raise questions about their fairness or truthfulness as a witness in a trial – and require disclosure to defendants.” – USA Today
These law enforcement officers are sometimes referred to as Brady cops, referencing the lists’ most commonly known name, but the list can also be referred to as the “Giglio” list and is officially known as the The Potential Impeachment Disclosure list.
The Brady list is usually compiled by a prosecutor’s office or a police department, containing the names of officers with sustained incidents of lying, minor convictions or other issue that place their believability into question.
In essence the Brady list is a record of the “bad apple” cops who’ve been found guilty of lying enough times that the state finds it necessary to document and alert defense lawyers and judges because their testimony cannot bear the same weight as that of others when they testify in court cases.
Brady list violations range from “untruthfulness” and “bias” to any crimes an officer commits other than domestic violence, driving under the influences and motor vehicle misdemeanors.That DV and DUI are not considered impeachable offenses is itself telling.
A recent investigation by Crosscut in Washington state found “at least 183 police officers flagged for issues such as dishonesty, bias and excessive force remain in law enforcement.” (Crosscut)
Two are currently working as law enforcement officers in Eastern Washington’s Benton and Franklin Counties.
In January, Washington States’ Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher was placed on the Brady list. Though the Benton County Sheriff’s name has been legally placed on the list he still retains the authority and influence inherent to his law enforcement position.
Hatcher was placed on the Brady list this year for 26 different allegations including, “violating County anti-discrimination policy” “intimidating public servants” and “making false and misleading statements to law enforcement and the courts.” (LRIS)
These are serious charges that would get most of us fired from our jobs if we were to commit them. These charges would also likely lead to our arrests but not for police officers because “across the United States, prosecutors aren’t tracking officer misconduct, are skirting Supreme Court “Brady” rules and sometimes leading to wrongful convictions.” (USA Today)
Though the Benton County Sheriff’s name has been placed on the list, he still remains on the job, retaining his jurisdiction over the lives and safety of the citizens of Benton County.
According to the Benton County Sheriff offices’ website, similar to many other law enforcement websites, their mission is in part to “safeguard life and property, preserve the peace, prevent and detect crime, and protect the rights of all citizens” but this only raises the question: how can any of that be accomplished by the same law enforcement officers who are actively taking lives, disturbing the peace, and oppressing the rights of citizens?
Historically these behaviors have permitted and often justified by the law enforcement agencies that continue to employ them. By continuing to employ these officers, agencies proceed to impose on citizens dangerous officers who have proven themselves of such untrustworthy character and have been caught committing upon the public egrigious and illegal acts with frequency that lists must be compiled. How much protection can a system claim to be providing for its citizens when it allows for repetitive abusers to continue to maintain so much destructive authority over human lives?
Another Washington law enforcement officer, Franklin County’s Deputy Cody Quantrell, “had enough violations at his past job to warrant serious counseling from the police chief” and “on the day of the Deputy Quantrell counseling in Toppenish a motorcyclist registered a complaint against Quantrell for pulling a gun on him for alleged reckless driving.” (Tricities Observer)
Even after multiple complaints deputy Quantrell was allowed to continue working in law enforcement, eventually moving to a new precinct working in Pasco, Washington, when “on November 18, 2019, deputy Cody Quantrell shot to death former Marine and combat veteran Dante Jones in during a traffic stop in “circumstances similar to those he had been counseled about in Toppenish” as reported in the Tricities Observer.
Notwithstanding all of the evidence, Quantrell’s name hasn’t even been considered for addition to the Brady list, nor have any charges been filed against him as of yet. The rules that guide who gets placed on Brady lists seem arbitrary and decisions about who goes on the Brady list “rely too much on police agencies investigating themselves and issuing disciplinary findings against officers, which doesn’t always happen,” public defender Anita Khandelwal told CrossCut.
How effective are Brady lists if in the places where they do exist thousands of citizens are still being prosecuted based on the duplicitous testimony of Brady cops? How effective is the existence of the mandate for a Brady list when at least 300 prosecutors’ offices across the nation don’t take the needed steps to keep a list tracking dishonest or otherwise untrustworthy officers? (Crosscut)
Even though these officers have shown they are not safe for our communities, law enforcement agencies protect these officers. They are permitted to keep their jobs and to move to new jobs in new communities seemingly no matter their appalling behavior.
This situation raises questions such as: How can law enforcement’s mission be to safeguard the lives of the public when it is the same law enforcement apparatus that knowingly retains these bad actors? Can these officers just be “bad apples” if the entire system is set up to support violent, law-skirting officers via non-compliant prosecutors’ offices working in collusion with police departments and cop unions?