Police misconduct indicates conduct that are unacceptable and inappropriate. They are illicit and prohibited actions taken by police officers in association with their official duties and status. “Types of misconduct include among others: coerced false confession, intimidation, false arrest, false imprisonment, falsification of evidence, spoliation of evidence, police perjury, witness tampering, police brutality, police corruption, racial profiling, unwarranted surveillance, unwarranted searches, and unwarranted seizure of property.” In addition to this, there exists also bribing, sexual misconduct, and many more other acts.
Many police officers in the United States often do not turn each other in for misconduct. It is a silent understanding between these officials. In a 2005 survey, evidence were found supporting this statement and is called as the “blue code of silence”. A 2019 study in the journal Nature found that misconduct by one police officer substantially increased the likelihood that peer officers would also engage in misconduct. At least 85,000 officers in the US have been investigated for misconduct, and some are constantly under investigation; nearly 2,500 have been investigated on 10 or more charges.
There are various research and studies conducted behind understanding the psychology behind the police behavior individually or collectively. There is no solution as to how to stop corruption at its core without disrupting the entire established legal structure. As such there are many attempts to handle police misconduct directly or indirectly. There is an increase speed that has seen in the trend where civilians are engrossing themselves in taking the law into their own hands. This includes individuals or groups even film police activities and share it on social media platforms to hold them accountable for their actions. In other circumstances, police will illegally seize, destroy or delete evidence recorded by civilians, in spite of laws that make it a crime to destroy evidence of a crime being committed. Misconduct has been shown to be related to personality and correlated to education, but it can also be significantly affected by the culture of the police agency. Education is negatively correlated to misconduct, with better-educated officers receiving fewer complaints on average. Police misconduct is also often correlated with the want to feel superior, not enough pay grade and mostly possessing a conscious or sometimes even unconscious being discriminate towards certain sections of society.
Circumstances of Police Brutality: “In the United States, major political and social movements have involved excessive force by police, including the civil rights movement of the 1960s, anti-war demonstrations, the War on Drugs, and the Global War on Terrorism. In 2014, the UN Committee against Torture condemned police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement in the US and highlighted the “frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals”. The United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent’s 2016 report noted that “contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching.”
- “Seven members of the United States Maryland military police were convicted for the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuseincidents in Iraq. Detainees were abused within the prison by being forced to jump on their naked feet, being videotaped in sexually exploitative positions, having chains around their neck for photos, and being kept naked for days.”
- Breonna Taylor“was killed at the age of 26 when police forced entry into the apartment as part of an investigation into drug dealing operations. Officers said that they announced themselves as police before forcing entry, but Walker said he did not hear any announcement, thought the officers were intruders, and fired a warning shot at them and hit Mattingly in the leg, and the officers fired 32 shots in return. Walker was unhurt but Taylor was hit by six bullets and died. On 23 September, a state grand jury found the shooting of Taylor justified but indicted officer Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment for endangering Taylor’s neighbors with his shots.”
- The police in Brazilhave a history of violence against the lower classes. It dates back to the nineteenth century when it primarily served as an instrument to control slaves. In a mostly rural country, the police forces were heavily influenced by local large landowners known as “colonels”.
Law: “It is a crime for one or more persons acting under color of law willfully to deprive or conspire to deprive another person of any right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. (18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242). “Under color of law” means that the person doing the act is using power given to him or her by a governmental agency (local, State, or Federal). A law enforcement officer acts “under color of law” even if he or she is exceeding his or her rightful power. The types of law enforcement misconduct covered by these laws include excessive force, sexual assault, intentional false arrests, theft, or the intentional fabrication of evidence resulting in a loss of liberty to another. Enforcement of these provisions does not require that any racial, religious, or other discriminatory motive existed. What remedies are available under these laws? These are criminal statutes. Violations of these laws are punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. There is no private right of action under these statutes; in other words, these are not the legal provisions under which you would file a lawsuit on your own.”
Police Misconduct Provision: “This law makes it unlawful for State or local law enforcement officers to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. (34 U.S.C. § 12601). The types of conduct covered by this law can include, among other things, excessive force, discriminatory harassment, false arrests, coercive sexual conduct, and unlawful stops, searches, or arrests. In order to be covered by this law, the misconduct must constitute a “pattern or practice” — it may not simply be an isolated incident. The DOJ must be able to show in court that the agency has an unlawful policy or that the incidents constituted a pattern of unlawful conduct. However, unlike the other civil laws discussed below, DOJ does not have to show that discrimination has occurred in order to prove a pattern or practice of misconduct. What remedies are available under this law? The remedies available under this law do not provide for individual monetary relief for the victims of the misconduct. Rather, they provide for injunctive relief, such as orders to end the misconduct and changes in the agency’s policies and procedures that resulted in or allowed the misconduct. There is no private right of action under this law; only DOJ may file suit for violations of the Police Misconduct Provision.”
Sounds Unfair? The only people who are supposed to protect you are against you? However, not all cops are bad and as such if you happened to encounter or know someone who have encountered similar situation. Please contact a lawyer.
This article serves only for informational purposes.
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