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Austin Police Division Authority Institute Presentation

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  1. Austin Police Department Leadership Academy Presentation ARREST & TRIAL BY DET LISA MORRILL & SPO BILLIE HANCOCK JUNE 13, 2001

  2. PURPOSE • Develop an in-service class that would teach officers terminology, techniques and tactics that are used by prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. This class should benefit the individual officer’s performance as a better police-witness and reflect positively on the department. • “Testifying is police work. It’s the final phase of a police officer’s work on a case. If the cop isn’t a good witness all the rest of his police work is just a futile exercise. No matter how brilliant the investigation, how careful the arrest, and how thorough the report; if an officer isn’t just as competent on the stand as he is in the field, he’s just processing bodies. There’s no point in making arrests if we aren’t going to get convictions. When you take the stand, you’re on trial. Your department is on trial.”

  3. AREAS OF INTEREST • Currently, officers experience performance and communication problems with judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and other personnel in the various levels of the judicial system. • For some officers, a lack of understanding of the legal system may be a primary concern. • Research has concluded there is a real need for police departments to properly train cadets and officers of the importance in good report writing. • Most major Texas police departments, including APD, do not offer sufficient training in courtroom testimony, resulting in poor presentation by the testifying officer and criticism from attorneys, juries and judges. • Historically, APD has only provided instruction to cadets regarding the courtroom process at the municipal court level in a mock courtroom setting and incorporates testimony. The length of instruction is only nine hours. • There is no evaluation process in place to identify and select officers who have extensive experience in the various courts and assign these officers to train other officers.

  4. ANALYZE • The West Point Leadership Theories we have decided to include into the Arrest and Trail In-Service class are: • Module 1-Attribution theory, Equity theory, Expectancy theory, Motivation Thru Consequences. • Module 2-Groups, Group Decision Making and Counseling. • Module 3-Situational Leadership Theory, Transformational Leadership Theory. • Module 4-Managing the Environment and Overcoming Resistance to Change.

  5. ATTRIBUTION • Officers credit themselves for testifying well on the stand. Internal attribution. • Officers have a tendency to blame the judge, jury, prosecutor when there is an acquittal. External factors. • Actor/observer bias-officer testifies poorly and blames external factors. The prosecutor also blames the officer. • Self serving bias-the officer pats himself on the back for getting a conviction but blames the prosecutor for not obtaining a lengthy sentence.

  6. GROUP DECISION MAKING • This class will only be successful if officers “buy into” what they believe will personally benefit them in becoming better police witnesses. • By surveying officers and establishing a course designed for cops by cops, with the aid of judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys, can they see that the techniques and tactics taught should give them the knowledge and confidence to do their jobs well.

  7. TRANSFORMATIONAL • Instructors chosen for this class should be people with charisma, have individualized consideration for the students and are intellectually stimulating. • Officers will be more likely to “buy into” this class when they know who the instructors are and what their qualifications are.

  8. MANAGING THE ENVIRONMENT • “The technical core for any police agency is to enforce the law and to protect the public peace.” • Recent case and citations issued to high profile college students. Jenna and Barbara Bush. • External factors-the world news media. • Internal factors-upper management and influencing decisions on what kind of citation to issue. Class B or Class C.

  9. RESPOND • Contacted various departments in Texas and sought their curriculum regarding how their academies teach court systems and testimony. • Reviewed APD’s curriculum on the court system and found it was deficient vs. the importance of having the proper training for testifying in court. • Contacted various prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys about participating in department training. • Developed TCLEOSE lesson plans to include West Point Leadership Theories and Strategies. • Contacted in-service instructor and informed him of the project. • Obtained statistical information from APD crime analysis of the most common arrests APD officers have made in the last quarter. • Researched the web for various materials on the structure of the judicial system at the local, state and federal levels. • Contacted the various courts and found the most common cases being tried in Travis County. • Polled officers to determine how many would be interested in taking an arrest and trial class.

  10. ASSESS • Provide prosecutors with a questionnaire to determine whether there have been any significant changes in the manner in which officers are testifying in court and any recommendations they may have. • Contact prosecutors at all levels to determine whether conviction rates have increased based on testimony given by officers having been through this class. • After officers have been through Arrest and Trial class, students will complete an “Instructor’s Critique” rating the effectiveness of the class, as well as the instructor’s knowledge and understanding of material. • Responses from this critique will be used to refine, update, add or delete material and improve the instructor’s future presentations. • Six months after completion of the class students will receive a follow-up questionnaire to determine whether any of the techniques taught have been beneficial in their testimony.


  12. REQUIRED READING COURTROOM SURVIVAL: The Officer’s Guide to Better Testimony. Devallis Rutlege, J.D. Copperhouse Publishing Company. 2000.

  13. Most common citations set for trial in municipal court. Ran Red Light Speeding Non moving violations No seat belt Collisions Other citations such as: PDP, open container, PI, MIP(Jenna & Barbara Bush), DOC. Juvenile cases vary from the minor to more serious of offenses. Overview of juvenile laws and general order policies regarding the handling of juveniles. Importance of magistration and the officer’s mere presence during this time. Certifying a juvenile to stand trial as an adult. BASICMUNICIPAL AND JUVENILE COURTS

  14. County Courts handle Class A and B misdemeanor cases. Most common cases tried are: family violence, assaults, dwi, pom, resisting arrest/frisk, evading, ucw, and cpw. District Courts handle State Jail felonies and all other felonies. Most common cases tried are: aggravated assault, assault on police officer, sexual assault, possession of controlled substance, robbery, homicide, burglary, engaging in organized crime INTERMEDIATECOUNTY AND DISTRICT COURTS

  15. Rules of testimony for grand jury. Grand jury location Overview of grand jury such as when they meet, terms, selection Type of cases the federal courts hear. Location Judges and prosecutors How and why federal law enforcement agencies and APD work together to send certain cases to federal court. ADVANCEDTRAVIS COUNTY GRAND JURY AND THE FEDERAL COURTS