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Consequences of filing a false report

Knowingly filing a false report could lead to termination and criminal charges

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Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. And Today’s Tip is for both law enforcement and correctional officers. Today I’d like to talk about the consequences of filing a false report. Let me give you the bottom line: Never, never ever file a false report.

I recently saw a news article about two correctional officers at a state prison who falsified incident reports in which an inmate was injured and later died. Turns out, the inmate’s injuries were caused by one of the involved officers, and both officers covered the whole thing up. Subsequently, the officers’ bad deeds caught up with them after an investigation into the incident. The officers were, of course, terminated by their agency, and both were charged in federal court with serious criminal offenses.

Now I know and you know the vast majority of criminal justice officers are upstanding, honest and ethical individuals who file truthful and accurate reports all the time. However, there are some bad apples out there who lie, file false reports, omit factual or exculpatory information, or submit inaccurate information and evidence. And sometimes, otherwise good officers think there’s no harm in fudging the truth just a little bit.

But think about it. Please think this through. Knowingly filing a false report could lead to you:

  • Landing in an internal administrative investigation (that’s never fun).
  • Being put on a Brady list for dishonesty, causing your credibility as a witness to go down in flames.
  • Facing discipline, up to and, yes, including termination. In some states, a terminated officer can lose their retirement benefits, especially if the misconduct was committed in the course of their duties. Plus, you can also face criminal charges at the state and federal level that have the potential for jail or prison time.

This is serious stuff, folks, and it’s not just about you. If an officer files a report that contains false information, someone, someone innocent, may be wrongfully arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to jail or prison, or worse. Just for a moment, imagine being the innocent person on the other side of that situation. That’s not good, folks.

The message I’d like you to walk away with is this: If you always tell the truth, you’ll never have to remember any lies.

Get more tips from Gordon here.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.