“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney.” We all know these famous few phrases are part of the Miranda Advisement. Most police have read this advisement to suspects many times. Most citizens have heard the phrase on television and in movies for decades.
Do you realize these rights don’t stop just because you wear a badge? You have the same rights as everyone else. You don’t have to incriminate yourself and you have a right to an attorney. If you are involved in an incident were your actions could result in some civil or criminal liability you have the same rights as most other people. Certainly we have an obligation to provide that information that is necessary for officer and public safety purposes. You don’t want a dangerous criminal to escape because you are worried about your liability; the protection of the public is paramount.
Your police association should be able to provide you with a representative to insure compliance with your agency collective bargaining agreement. The will usually also be able to provide you with an attorney. It can be very important to insure your rights are respected to consult with a union representative and an attorney before you provide much information to your agency about any potentially controversial incident. Some agencies can even legally command you to provide them with information despite Miranda but a consultation with your attorney should probably come before that. It can also be a good idea to talk with your union or legal representative occasionally, perhaps annually to update you on your duties and rights; that’s what the SGT Says.