Copyright (c) 2000 Suffolk Journal of Trial & Appellate Advocacy
Suffolk Journal of Trial & Appellate Advocacy
NOTE: ERODING THE BLUE WALL OF SILENCE: THE NEED FOR AN INTERNAL AFFAIRS PRIVILEGE OF CONFIDENTIALITY
5 Suffolk J. Trial & App. Adv. 19
John Joseph Powers, Jr.
The above quote by Boston Police Commissioner Paul Evans reflects the Department's frustration with its investigation into the beating of Officer Michael Cox, a recent police misconduct case in Massachusetts. 2 Highly publicized incidents such as the Michael Cox beating, the shooting of Amadou Diallo in New York, the attack on Rodney King by a group of Los Angeles police officers, as well as other cases of corruption, racism, and abuses have fed the public's dissatisfaction with the management of police power in the United States. 3 Reflecting this shift in public opinion, civil rights groups, and especially the press, have called for closer monitoring and scrutiny of police departments and their officers. 4 In Massachusetts, a trend has developed during the past thirty years toward more public disclosure of police documents in an effort to restrict the abuse of power by police officers. 5 While this may be seen as a route to increase police accountability, has the public disclosure of police files in Massachusetts gone so far as to act against the interests of the public by hampering internal police investigations?
This article advocates a specific statutory privilege of confidentiality for the contents of police department internal affairs files. 6 It will examine the inherent difficulties for police departments in conducting an internal investigation into an officer's conduct (the Code of Silence). 7 The note will show how a statutory guarantee of confidentiality would serve the interests of the public. 8 Such ...
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