One way to minimize the effects of the blue wall of silence is to expose those who follow it. Many states have taken steps in police academies to encourage code blue disclosure. In most cities, before being admitted to the academy, you must pass a criminal background check. With additional background checks, polygraph tests and psychological assessments, some departments are better able to select individuals who are less likely to tolerate misconduct. In these departments, the police are exposed to a basic training programme that teaches ethical behaviour; In some cases, this teaching is reinforced each year in seminars and courses.  The blue wall of silence has in the past allowed law enforcement to act without consequences, taking people`s lives and freedom. The Chauvin trial has inspired recent conversations on the other side of the blue wall, and the conversation must continue, as allowing this abuse of power to continue could lead to more false convictions and unjust murders. It is precisely for this reason that consent orders, which may lose power or popularity due to the administration in power, are not a long-term solution to the problem of police misconduct. SIGLEA is a good start. The bill would create a special inspector general to investigate the illegality or misconduct of local, state or federal law enforcement agencies and provide whistleblower and confidentiality protections to law enforcement officers and others who witness police misconduct or are victims of police misconduct. And it would break the pervasive code of silence by protecting reporting officers from harassment in the workplace and eliminating the conflict inherent in internal police misconduct investigations.
The blue wall of silence is reinforced when officials who intervene for misconduct are punished for speaking out. That`s what happened with former police officer Shannon Spalding, who is currently working on the rescue project. She whistled at former social housing agent Ronald Watts when she learned that he was supervising residents of the Ida B. Wells social housing complex in Chicago`s Bronzeville neighborhood. In Spalding`s case, the blue wall of silence was so strong that her life was threatened by authorities when she reported Watts to the FBI. Police officers` long-standing code of silence when their colleagues are accused of misconduct is another major barrier to accountability. The testimony of three members of the Minneapolis Police Department in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd is the most notable recent deviation from this well-documented phenomenon. This highly unethical practice has often been exacerbated by well-funded and extremely vocal police unions. These organizations wield much of the local political power, often vehemently defending officer misconduct and conducting internal review investigations to prevent punitive measures against offending officials.
As historians and academics have noted, the ”blue wall of silence” dates back to the post-Reconstruction period, when police officers standing in the moonlight while members of the Ku Klux Klan used their powerful positions to intimidate and torture blacks and then cover up their misdeeds. In many cases, agents in these jurisdictions, who were not part of the Klan base, did not obstruct the misconduct of their colleagues. Without protection from retaliation against whistleblowers and an independent investigative agency, as PROPOSED by SIGLEA, countless Americans, especially in black and brown communities across the country, continue to be denied justice. For example, Chicago Police Department officials were reluctant to testify against a colleague accused of murdering 17-year-old black Laquan McDonald, and even refused to show and identify their colleague at a trial in 2018. Although they were confronted with a video in which their mcDonald`s partner shot once in the back and then fired another 15 shots at the teenager as he lay on the floor, the officers kept their story exposed that McDonald`s had swung a knife in their direction. In another troubling incident in 2021, police officers in Windsor, Virginia, filed nearly identical incident reports to cover up an illegal use of force against a Black Army second lieutenant, though camera footage worn on the body contradicts officers` reports. If SIGLEA had been in effect at the time of these and countless other incidents, the police could have been reassured that they would not face degradation or, in extreme cases, dismissal by their colleagues and superiors, known as ”rats”, which would plunge them and their families into financial difficulties due to the loss of their pensions and other benefits.