Colorado State Trooper Kevin Burkett has admitted falsifying reports in three D.U.I. arrests. This is shocking for two reasons. First, that it happened at all. But second, and more importantly, because there are no plans to charge Burnett with a crime. In my experience, corruption in Colorado law enforcement is not a frequent occurrence. But, when it happens, the chips must fall where they lie.
Kevin Burkett had only been a state trooper for 2 years when, according to a letter from the Colorado State Patrol to the Jefferson County district attorney, he “falsified information on three driving under the influence cases since March 2003.” The letter goes on to say that “these falsifications involved adding information to the reports that did not in fact occur.”
Aside from those who were victimized by his lies, it is law enforcement who should be calling for criminal charges against Burkett. He has cheapened and abused their profession. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Best Defense that one of the principles of criminal law is : “Rule IV: Almost all police lie about whether they violated the Constitution in order to convict ‘guilty’ defendants.” Yet, one of the hardest biases for defense attorneys to overcome in picking a jury is the notion most jurors have that a law enforcement officer is more worthy of belief then their clients and ordinary citizens. It’s a tremendous advantage for the prosecution. But, every time the public hears about a cop like Burkett who both lies and gets away with it, it besmirches police in general and makes Dershowitz’s claim more believable. It’s not enough that Burkett resigned. He needs to be prosecuted so that the public’s faith that police take seriously their responsibilities to protect and defend is not jeopardized. Filing a false police report is a crime. Even the runaway bride was prosecuted it. To date, the number of factually innocent persons released from prison in rape and murder cases due to DNA evidence proving their innocence now tops 150. Of the first 70 analyzed, fraudulent police testimony and other police misconduct accounted for a significant percentage. Nothing less than the integrity of our criminal justice system in the minds of the public demands that Kevin Burkett be held criminally accountable for his lies.