2/23/2020 0 Comments
This week on the Writer's Detective Bureau, experience is the greatest teacher prosecuting a serial killer and federal supervised release. I'm Adam Richardson and this is the Writer's Detective Bureau. Welcome to episode number 80 of the Writer's Detective Bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime related fiction. And this week I'm answering your questions about the little things that police work teaches cops about daily life, prosecuting a serial killer when not all of the victims have been found, and how someone on federal supervised release would show up on the radar of the US marshals.
But first, I need to thank gold shield patrons, Debra Dunbar from Debradunbar.com, C.C. Jameson from CCJameson.com, Larry Keaton, Vicki Tharp of Vickitharp.com, Chrysann, Larry Darter, Natalie Barelli of Nataliebarelli.com, and Craig Kingsman of Craigkingsman.com for their support. And I'd also like to send a huge thank you to my coffee club and silver cufflink patrons. You can find links to all of the writers supporting this episode in the show notes at writersdetective.com/80. To learn more about setting up your own Patreon account for your author business or to support the show for as little as $2 per month, visit writersdetective.com/Patreon, P-A-T-R-E-O-N.
Before I get into this week's questions, after last week's podcast episode where I talked about the ethical concepts of utilitarianism and deontology, Rankin Johnson commented in the Facebook group, "Adam, I'm a regular listener of your podcast and I enjoy it, but I just listened to the February 15th podcast and I didn't think you gave a fair interpretation of utilitarianism. You said that a utilitarian might not arrest the police chief's kid for DUI, which would avoid an embarrassing story in the paper. John Stuart Mill would be horrified. A utilitarian might choose not to arrest for DUI because arresting the defendant would cause him to lose his job and thereby his house rendering his children homeless or because if he arrested the chief's kid, the charges would be dismissed and he would be fired and could no longer provide for his family. But in light of the harm caused by drunk driving, I suspect that most utilitarians would want to see the drunk driver arrested.
"Utilitarianism, like any other moral philosophy can be twisted or misused to reach a desired end, but that's not the flaw in the theory. It's user error." To which I replied, "Rankin, you are 100% correct about this and I'll offer a more accurate account of how utilitarianism can be the right thing to do in a practical law enforcement scenario." And then Rankin kindly replied, "Law enforcement looks inherently utilitarian to me because it's filled with choices about where to spend limited resources. By contrast, when I was working as a criminal defense attorney, my arguments were often deontological. The police officer didn't have a lawful reason to search the trunk of the car. So it doesn't matter that he found 17 pounds of cocaine in a dead body, or that hearing had to be held within three days of arrest. It doesn't matter that the arresting officer was in the hospital because my client allegedly shot him."
So first of all, Rankin offered excellent examples of deontology at work right there. So in his examples, the right thing for the police officer to do was to obey the fourth amendment. So the question is whether it's right to search the trunk or not, and whether the officer found the cocaine and the dead body shouldn't factor into the analysis of right version versus wrong. Because in deontology, as we talked about last episode, the outcome is irrelevant. It's whether the act itself is moral. But to get back to Rankin's original point, I did not give utilitarianism a fair shake in my example. Now, if you recall from the last episode, I talked about the decision on whether to arrest a police chief's son for DUI. And I agree with Rankin that my commentary wasn't a fair interpretation of utilitarianism. A more appropriate example might be one where an officer pulls over a woman for speeding. He quickly learns that she's a single mom raising two kids and speeding to get from her day job to her night job because she works two minimum wage jobs to provide for her kids and barely makes ends meet... Continue reading...
If you like what you read here, consider joining the mailing list for updates, seminar notifications and more!