RECOMMENDATION 28

Part: 
Three
Chapter: 
2

State and Local law enforcement agencies should provide the most thorough and up-to-date training for investigators involved in enforcing the obscenity laws.

To ensure that officers assigned to enforce these laws possess the requisite skill, comprehensive training programs should be established in all jurisdictions. This training should include instruction on investigative techniques, prosecution, victim trauma and the particular stress officers must deal with in obscenity law investigations.

Law enforcement officers involved in the investigation of obscenity violations must be thoroughly acquainted with constitutional law including First and Fourth Amendment implications. The legal and procedural aspects are complex and always subject to change. Included in this training should be a working familiarity with the local community standards. This knowledge should serve as the basis for evaluating cases for prosecution. State and local law enforcement officers should be advised continually of judicial interpretations in the obscenity law area.

Law enforcement officers should receive comprehensive training to avoid errors in judgment which can result in civil rights violations as well as potential civil liability for governmental entities and employees. This training should enable the law enforcement officers to perform their duty within constitutional bounds.

Law enforcement officers should be trained to use regional and national information sources in their investigations. The training should emphasize the need to exercise basic investigative techniques and focus on the similarities and patterns in investigation of obscenity law violations and other investigations.

Investigators will often encounter victims who have been abused or traumatized. A component of the training program should focus on methods to deal with these individuals compassionately and to direct them to the appropriate support services. Training in all areas should be provided by experienced investigators to members of their own department and supplemented with participation by prosecutors and investigators from other law enforcement authorities who specialize in this area.

The training should address the inordinate amount of stress these investigators must endure. The psychological and emotional pressure the officers face often results from prolonged undercover investigations dealing with the material on a long term basis and a lack of peer support. One police officer told the Commission:

... those people who seem to have involved themselves in investigations of these matters generally get ostracized by their own peers. Most police officers make a fool out of those investigators that are charged with investigations of these matters. Macho-1 don't know what to say.

I found most of them (obscenity investigators) to be extremely professional, dedicated policemen with a lot of integrity. It's unfortunate that they are characterized as such in their peer group, because they have a lot of integrity. You investigate other types of crimes, gambling and narcotics, you find the seedier aspects of law enforcement in terms of corruption, but for the most part these people have a lot of personal integrity, and surprisingly they have a lot of regard for first amendments rights. That would be a surprise to many people, but they respect it.[292]

It is as important to train officers in methods to deal with stress and peer support as it is in basic investigative techniques.

Notes

  1. New York Hearing, Vol. I, Carl Shoffler, pp. 227-28.