41 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 1, 2013
The killing of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch captain and the purported lackadaisical response to that killing by the Sanford, Florida Police Department riveted the country and sparked an important conversation regarding the breakdown of the relationship between the police and the communities that they serve. Regardless of one’s opinion on what happened the night that Martin was killed, it is undeniable that this entire case has jeopardized the already fragile relationship between law enforcement and not only the Sanford community, but communities across the nation. This Essay considers the effect of the dysfunctional relationship between the police and the communities that they serve on the perceived reliability of the evidence that police provide in our criminal justice system on a daily basis. The evidence rules, which are particularly crucial in criminal cases, should reflect the reality of public perception of law enforcement. I propose that communities call for and legislatures implement a moratorium on the admissibility of certain types of law enforcement testimony in communities with strong levels of distrust of the police. And, in turn, when confidence in the credibility of law enforcement is restored, which is the ultimate goal of this Essay, the evidentiary regime can and should then reflect a new reality and take the opposite approach. The rules of evidence should incorporate a community policing approach to the admissibility of police testimony.
My approach is novel, as criminal law and evidence scholars have not considered the importance of the community in assessing evidentiary reliability. But we should rely on the community to adjudge police credibility and the evidentiary value of their testimony. This approach is superior to relying solely on prosecutors, judges, and the police themselves. My proposal will help to restore the public’s trust in law enforcement, which is at an all-time, critical low.
Keywords: Police testimony, testifying, evidence, community policing, credibility, race, police citizens academies, racial profiling
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Carodine, Montré Denise, 'Street Cred' (June 1, 2013). UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 46, 2013; U of Alabama Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2275003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2275003