Local News

Carrboro Case Raises Questions About Police Using Deceptive Tactics

Posted December 16, 2004 5:07 a.m. EST

— Carrboro police admit using a fake arrest warrant and a letter from Orange County District Attorney Carl Fox to scare a suspect during questioning. Soon after, Andrew Dalzell confessed to a seven-year-old murder.

Dalzell's attorney believes officers went too far, but law enforcement officers said deception is all part of the game.

"We're given a certain amount of creativity in doing what we do to obtain information from suspects," Cpl. David Addison said.

For example, officers sometimes use the Internet and pretend to be young children in hopes of luring pedophiles and sexual predators.

"We have to use deception because these are not common, everyday people who will come forward and just give you information," Addison said.

"It's a slick ploy, so the criminals have to beware," said Irving Joyner, law professor at North Carolina Central University.

Joyner said even though some defense attorneys label such tactics as dirty tricks, most courts have endorsed them. They are drawing a line, though. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled police must read a suspect his or her rights before trying to get a confession, and officers must not deliberately try to circumvent the requirements.

In the Carrboro case, the defense claims Dalzell waived his rights because police lied. A judge will decide next month if officers crossed the line.

There are measures police cannot take when trying to get a confession. They cannot touch a suspect, threaten him or her, or promise him or her anything.