With reports of police misconduct on the rise and the controversy of body cams and racial divide, Daniel Holtzclaw is someone every police officer should get familiar with. Holtzclaw was an Oklahoma City police officer convicted in 2015 of 18 out of 36 charges of sexual assault against eight accusers. In January of 2016, he received s sentence of 263 years and is currently serving out that sentence in an undisclosed location. Most believed that Daniel Holtzclaw was guilty and that justice was served.
Some, however, including Michelle Malkin, a senior editor for Conservative Review, believe he is innocent. Depending on who you listen to, his story is a tale of racial profiling, police misconduct, and a lot of circumstantial evidence. Whose race was exploited? Was it the accusers, all black women, or was it Holtzclaw, a man of Japanese American descent? Was the alleged police misconduct his own, or that of the investigators handling his case? As for the evidence, there appear to be concerns about the DNA evidence used in his trial. Most recently, closed hearings that not even Holtzclaw’s attorneys could attend, have people speculating on the validity of that DNA evidence. No matter which side of this case you come down on, every police officer should know about it, and what’s more, they should learn from it.
Daniel Holtzclaw was convicted using the tools given to protect officers, such as the GPS unit in his police cruiser. There were no dash cameras or body cameras in use, items that could have either protected Daniel Holtzclaw or supported his accuser’s claims. His use of systems in place to check criminal histories and active warrants were used to show that his accusers were targeted. This was done simply by obtaining a record of people that he had checked and then canvassing those people to see if he had assaulted them, a suggestive investigation technique, at best.
Throughout the investigation, Holtzclaw maintained his innocence and put his faith in the system. Many now question if that faith was misplaced, and more importantly, if the system was flawed. In today’s world, where police are under heavier scrutiny than ever, Daniel Holtzclaw should stand as a warning for other officers, to properly and consistently use the tools given to them. Daniel Holtzclaw is in prison, but what if he is innocent, as he and his growing number of supporters contend? What, if anything, could he have done to protect himself? Police officers today need to be self-aware, and accept that public scrutiny doesn’t always jibe with offered proof. In a world that sees real life drama played out on Facebook Live, they need to make sure they are using the tools they have access to effectively, or they could be another Daniel Holtzclaw in the making.
[Featured Image by Sue Ogrocki/AP Images Pool File]