The term “police misconduct” describes inappropriate actions of police officers in connection with the official duties they hold in their position. Police misconduct often involves violation of an individual’s civil rights established by state and federal laws. Incidences of police misconduct can create physical, emotional, legal, and financial burdens for victims. Additionally, states also face legal and financial repercussions when handling police misconduct cases over their officers.
Types of Police Misconduct
Types of police misconduct may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Police brutality: the use of unwarranted excessive force, often resulting in physical harm
- Police corruption: the abuse of power for personal gain, such as professional or financial advancement
- Sexual misconduct or abuse: forcing non-consensual sexual behavior upon another individual
- Intimidation: intentionally provoking fear or injury or harm for the officer’s personal gain
- Racial profiling: the use of an individual’s ethnicity or race as a key factor when determining to engage police enforcement
- False arrest and imprisonment: the custody or imprisonment of an individual without probable cause or court order
- False confession: inducing an incorrect confession through coercion, or by the confessor’s mental disorder or incompetency
- False or forge evidence: providing evidence that was fabricated or illegally obtained
- Political repression: the political persecution of individuals or groups, particularly in order to prevent or restrict their ability to participate in a society’s political life
- Surveillance abuse: the violation of laws or social norms through use of surveillance monitoring
Police brutality is defined as the deliberate and unprovoked used of excessive force against another individual. In most cases, physical actions are categorized as police brutality. However, police brutality may also include verbal attacks or psychological intimidation. Police brutality is a blatant violation of civil rights and may result in civil or criminal charges against an offending police officer.
Identifying and reporting police brutality may be difficult, as police officers are legally permitted to use force in appropriate situations. In many cases, a victim’s only evidence of police brutality is his or her own testimony against the police officer’s. Individuals who feel they were a victim of police brutality or excessive force should consult an attorney immediately to determine the best legal approach to the incident.
Police Misconduct Statistics
The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP) collected data on police misconduct between April 200 and June 2010. The NPMSRP utilized news media reports in order to generate trending and statistical information on police misconduct.
The NPMSRP reported that:
- 5,986 reports of police misconduct were recorded
- 382 fatalities were linked to police misconduct
- $347,455,000 was spent in settlements and judgments related to police misconduct
- The 5 states with the most reports were Oklahoma, Montana, Vermont, West Virginia, and Tennessee
- The 5 state with the least reports were Maine, Arkansas, Kansas, Idaho, and North Dakota
- In 2009, 33 percent of police officers charged with misconduct went through to conviction
- 64 percent of police officers convicted in 2009 received prison sentences
- On average, convicted police officers spent an average of 14 months in prison in 2009
Orlando Police Misconduct Lawyers
Reporting police misconduct is a necessary step for maintaining legal and civil balance. Police misconduct victims who are not charged with a crime and do not plan to file charges should act quickly to report an incident. However, it is advised that reporting police misconduct should not take place until civil actions and criminal charges are resolved.
Recording the Incident
In any police misconduct scenario, the victim should write down as much information as possible regarding an incident immediately after the incident occurs. This step should be taken as soon as possible so that no information is forgotten or left out. In police misconduct cases, minute details may have a large impact as the case progresses. It is crucial to maintain accuracy, as incorrect information can damage a victim’s credibility.
In as much detail as possible, police misconduct victims should immediately record:
- Exact words spoken during conversation with the officer and other individuals
- Names, physical descriptions, and car and badge numbers of the involved officers
- Location, time of day, description of surroundings during the incident
- Contact information from any witnesses who may have been present
“Addressing Police Misconduct Laws Enforced by the Department of Justice.” Justice.gov. United States Department of Justice. Web. 17 Sep 2013. <http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/documents/polmis.php>.
Fitch, Brian D. “Understanding the Psychology of Police Misconduct.” Police Chief. Jan 2011: 24-27. Web. 17 Sep. 2013. <http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=2290&issue_id=12011>.
“How do I report police misconduct?.” Flex Your Rights. Flex Your Rights. Web. 17 Sep 2013. <http://www.flexyourrights.org/faqs/how-to-report-police-misconduct/>.