Two sets of rules
Raise your hand if something doesn’t make sense here.
This is part of the testimony from the inquiry into the death of Don Dunphy, during which two police officers under oath - Const. Warren Sullivan and Const. Scott Harris, both then on the executive of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association (RNCA) - talked about why they persuaded Const. Joe Smyth not to give a police statement about the shooting the day it happened.
Here’s Sullivan, then president of the RNCA, explaining why police officers - unlike the general public - get time (sometimes days) to compose themselves before being interviewed during a police investigation of their conduct: “The reason why that’s done is it allows the officer to have a better recall of what took place, and to be able to provide a more accurate depiction of what had actually taken place at the time of the incident,” Sullivan testified. “There are documented cases whereby that wasn’t done, and officers have provided a statement too close to the incident whereby there have been inaccuracies, and later in time officers have wanted to change their statement, or they’ve changed their statements while giving testimony, and it has come into question and has created problems.”
Fair enough - but to play devil’s advocate, police officers are only human. And wouldn’t the same concerns apply to any other human being interviewed by police in a criminal investigation about their behaviour? Wouldn’t police want the most accurate depiction of an incident from everyone? Yet police investigators want ordinary individuals to speak to police right away.
Here’s Sullivan again. “An incident involving two civilians, there is an investigative model that’s followed for major case management. It is police officers investigating civilians, trying to find out exactly what had taken place,” Sullivan said. “Obviously, yes, incidents involving police officers are investigated - or, I don’t know if they’re treated differently, but when it comes to officers providing accuracies as to what takes place, because they’ve suffered trauma, then they’re given the time and allowed the time to have the recall.”
Police officers aren’t supposed to have a stake in the outcome of an investigation; what they are supposed to be searching for is what happened, and whether or not charges should be laid. If it’s a known fact that people being interviewed immediately after an event provide incomplete or inaccurate details, why would police seek early interviews in relation to violent crimes with non-police suspects, unless it’s to give police and prosecutors an unreasonable advantage in their investigations?
Certainly, anyone involved in a shooting or a death would be suffering from trauma.
Why would the police not wait, in order get the “better” sort of statement they expected would come from Smyth having time to rethink and review his memories?
A textbook example of a double standard is treating individuals differently in the same circumstance. This is a double standard.