Defense Lawyer and an ex-officer discuss the state of police - citizen relations

A retired law enforcement officer and practicing Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney discussed, “What happened to friendly interactions between police and the community they serve?”  Here are the results.

I recently discussed the state of police – community interactions with a retired officer from Los Angeles.  We noted some changes that had occurred in society

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Fresno Justice: Officers and Society working together

as a whole since officers used to be members of the communities in which they worked.  Here are a few of the areas we touched on, and ideas we had as to the best ways to fix the problems.  It started out on the river near Kingsburg while both of us where enjoying the cool water on a hot summer day.  There are various law enforcement agencies on the river, from Tulare County Sheriffs, Fresno County Sheriff Deputies, and Reedley Police Department.  DUI or BUI (Boating under the Influence) alone with drunk in public, drug crimes, and drunk in public arrests occur regularly on the Kings River, but so does innocence law abiding boating and recreational activities.

Being a criminal defense attorney, one would expect me to blame the police.  With my friend being a former officer, one might expect blame to fall on society for failing to respect police.  But this conversation abandoned partisan leanings, and flowed as two people, two members of society who would like to see things improved for the betterment of all.

The former officer's opinion was that police have forgotten how to talk with non-officers while on duty.  Various reasons, from police shootings, random disobedience of officer's instructions, and the internet age where video of showing assertion of rights in DUI Checkpoints, including the notorious license and registration in a Ziploc sack outside the closed driver's side window at DUI Checkpoints and other authority defiant youtube type videos have sparked a wave of anti-police behavior often based on incorrect beliefs of what rights a citizen has during police interactions.

As a defense attorney, I see how disrespectful behavior by police and/or citizens cause an incident that could have been avoided to spiral out of control, often leading to violent interactions.  Many times the citizens will refuse to comply with commands of an officer, which causes force to be used.  Other times the officer is so rude in their behavior, that the hard feelings dictate the outcome.  Emotions can cause a lot of problems for people, so can principles.

Getting to know the public they serve:

The first step would be, especially in small cities, towns, and areas, the police have to learn to interact with the areas they serve.  In small city or town, it would be best if the officers frequented many of the establishments, opened a line of communication where people felt comfortable talking to them.  This serves the purpose of allowed the officers to get to know the people they help, and also the people getting to know the person behind the badge.

Benefit to Law Enforcement would be knowing who you are dealing with in advance to the stop will give the office insight on what to expect.  Conversing with people is how you learn what is happening within the community.

The benefit to society is better law enforcement that can be better informed of the state of the community and people in it.  It also makes law enforcement more approachable, which is important

Trading revenue collection for law enforcement:

Many times the officers are simply on a revenue enforcement mission.  They will stop a motorist and write tickets for safety belt, cell phone, or other minor violations that are both annoying to the motorist, and usually the officer as well.

The ticketed motorist will often feel that the officer should be solving real crimes, rather than taxing them for an infraction.  While safety matters, if cell phone tickets and safety belt tickets where all that was needed, we as a society would probably vote not to have police.  But there is more to being an officer, and the human side of the equation should be brought into play.

The same scenarios, where the motorists is stopped, and told fairly early that they will likely receive a verbal or written warning.  The conversation turns to a friendly talk, about who the person is, where they live, where they have gone, and what they are doing.  It also may involve asking about certain information that may be useful to stop drugs, violence, theft, and other crimes.   People are generally helpful, especially when they are being let out of a ticket.  Understanding, the warnings aren't going to continue of the person is stopped for the same infraction several times, they move forward as friends, and valuable information is gathered to help with larger issues.

The benefit to law enforcement is a friendly working environment where people are more easily approached for help, and more respectful of the person enforcing the laws.  This reduces the negative interactions with society and increases safety along with productivity.

The benefit to society is better enforcement of major law violation, more effective crime control, and improved relations with law enforcement.

When interactions between police and society are friendly, everyone wins.

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Fresno DUI Attorney | Madera DUI Attorney If you've been cited, you need to know what to do next. Help your attorney help you, contact me as soon as possible

Glass chess

Fresno DUI Lawyer Jonathan Rooker: Fresno area law enforcement agencies have some of the strictest DUI enforcement policies in the Nation. The first decision an officer makes during the DUI enforcement is the decision to stop the vehicle. It may be a driving pattern, maintenance infraction, tinted windows, or other issues the lead the officer to make that decision. The next decision is whether to have the driver exit the vehicle and conduct a DUI investigation. Factors include odor or alcohol, red watery eyes, and slurred speech. Timely stopping, parking, and fumbling with a license or insurance paperwork, all influence the officers decision to continue the investigation. Once outside the vehicle the subject may sway or have trouble following directions. At the conclusion of the third stage, the officer decides if there is probable cause for an arrest. If you are arrested, there are steps you should take on your own behalf. It is important for anyone cited for DUI to contact the DMV within 10 days to preserve their right to an Admin Per Se Hearing in front of a DMV officer. Failure to contact the DMV within 10 days may result in the suspension of your driving privilege. Remember, the officer arrests at probable cause, but it takes proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. If the officer does their job right, a large percentage of the people should be found not guilty.

Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney: Sometimes good people need help during tough times

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Fresno & Madera Criminal Defense Lawyer Jonathan Rooker: Domestic Violence (DV) charges, punishments, and your rights is something you need to understand if you've been accused. DV charges can result in a sentence of probation, jail, and/or prison. DV can be charged under various sections including PC 243(E) or the more serious PC 273.5 Felony (DV) accusation. Many convictions result in being sentenced to a 52-week program, referred to as the Batterers Treatment Program (BTP). The right to own, possess, or use a Firearms, a serious issue for many people who grew up in the rural valley hunting, fishing, and target shooting can be lost forever. While Judges routinely advise those convicted of misdemeanor Domestic Violence that they will be prohibited from owning firearms for 10-years, the Federal Government will preclude gun ownership for the remainder of the persons life if they are convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. It is important that the court knows you are a law abiding, upstanding, and productive member of society. Don't let an accusation turn into a lifetime of being stigmatized as a criminal.

"Criminal defense is about helping good people, that is what I do." Jonathan Rooker

Climb

Experienced Fresno and Madera County Criminal Defense Attorney Jonathan Rooker understands the needs of each client are quite unique to each individual client. Some clients are looking to keep their drivers license, others are looking to avoid long periods of incarceration. Many times pride and principles are cited for the client's motivation to achieve a particular resolution to their case. Many clients just want to put their life, family, and career back together. It is the responsibility of the defense attorney to coordinate and effective defense for the benefit of the client. It is essential that I provide the best defense for the individual person and their specifically tailored needs in life. I will help you by building the best defense that the facts allow. One important aspect of hiring a private attorney is the time they spend listening to your needs, and working to obtain an effective resolution under the circumstances. When these problems arise, it's time to reach out for a helping hand. I handle criminal defense cases on a daily basis, helping people with their issues. Let me help you.