Los Angeles police officers have been told they face possible discipline if they ask a judge to dismiss traffic charges against motorists when they can’t recall the details of the alleged infractions, says an internal police memo quoted by the Los Angeles Times. Under a new directive after court officials noticed an apparent rise in the number of such dismissal requests, “officers are required to testify to the best of their ability” and, in instances in which they cannot remember what occurred, must base their testimony on what they wrote on the citations.
The order upends a long unofficial practice of traffic judges granting officers’ requests for a case to be dismissed when they have what is referred to in police shorthand as N.I.R. – no independent recollection. The ban angered the leaders of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, who represent nearly 10,000 rank-and-file officers and have demanded to meet with department officials to discuss the change. Paul Weber, president of the league, questioned the ban on dismissal requests, saying it created unreasonable expectations, especially for traffic enforcement officers who write dozens of tickets each week. Weber said, “It doesn’t matter what they wrote on the ticket. What matters is their ability to articulate what they saw and why the driver broke the law. People have a right to confront their accuser, even in traffic court, and we have to be able to put on a case. If we can’t do that because we don’t remember, then that person should be let go. That’s the way our system is built.”