Police Complaint Resources

Police officers generally have broad powers to carry out their duties. The Constitution and other laws, however, place limits on how far police can go in trying to enforce the law. However, police officers sometimes go too far, violating the rights of citizens. When this happens, the victim of the misconduct may have recourse through federal and state laws. A primary purpose of the nation’s civil rights laws is to protect citizens from abuses by government, including police misconduct. Civil rights laws allow attorney fees and compensatory and punitive damages as incentives for injured parties to enforce their rights.

Police brutality: The intentional use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially also in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer. It is in some instances triggered by “contempt of cop”, i.e., perceived disrespect towards police officers. Police brutality is one of several forms of police misconduct, which include false arrest, intimidation, racial profiling, political repression, surveillance abuse, sexual abuse, and police corruption.

Police misconduct: Inappropriate actions taken by police officers in connection with their official duties. Police misconduct can lead to a miscarriage of justice and sometimes involves discrimination.

Types of misconduct: False confession, False arrest, Falsified evidence, False Imprisonment, Intimidation, Police brutality, Police corruption, Political repression, Racial profiling, Sexual abuse, Surveillance abuse

False Arrest
The claim that is most often asserted against police is false arrest. Persons bringing this claim assert that police violated their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable seizure. If the officer had probable cause to believe the individual had committed a crime, the arrest is reasonable and the Fourth Amendment has not been violated. Police can arrest without a warrant for a felony or misdemeanor committed in their presence. (Some states also allow warrantless arrests for misdemeanor domestic assaults not committed in the officer’s presence.) Even if the information the officer relied upon later turns out to be false, the officer is not liable if he believed it was accurate at the time of the arrest. To prevail on a false arrest claim, the victim must show that the arresting officer lacked probable cause, that is, facts sufficient to cause a reasonable person to believe that a crime had been committed.

Malicious Prosecution
A malicious prosecution claim asserts that the officer wrongly deprived the victim of the Fourteenth Amendment right to liberty. To win this type of claim, the victim must show four things: 1) the defendant police officer commenced a criminal proceeding; 2) the proceeding ended in the victim’s favor (that is, no conviction); 3) there was no probable cause; and 4) the proceeding was brought with malice toward the victim. As with false arrest, this claim will fail if the officer had probable cause to initiate criminal proceedings.

Excessive Force
Excessive force claims receive the most publicity, perhaps because the results of excessive force seem the most outrageous, involving serious physical injury or death. Whether the officer’s use of force was reasonable depends on the surrounding facts and circumstances. The officer’s intentions or motivations are not controlling. If the amount of force was reasonable, it doesn’t matter that the officer’s intentions were bad. But the reverse is also true: if the officer had good intentions, but used unreasonable force, the excessive force claim will not be dismissed.

Failure to Intervene
Officers have a duty to protect individuals from constitutional violations by fellow officers. Therefore, an officer who witnesses a fellow officer violating an individual’s constitutional rights may be liable to the victim for failing to intervene.

 

PoliceWatch.US

Police Watch has been online since July 4th 2006. We are very proud that in only a few weeks we have already filed over a dozen personnel complaints with departments all over the United States. Some of the complaints have resulted in immediate legal action. Our services are free of charge and the membership is also free. We are working with civil rights attorney’s from all over the country who are able to review your reports and contact you you regarding your case! We facilitate the filing of personal complaints against officers and keep them on public record! Feel free to browse through our reports online, comment on reports, and send us feedback on our services! We hope that you will support us in our efforts to STOP Police Brutality!

 

ACLU American Civil Liberties Union

The ACLU is our nation’s guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. Nearly 200 ACLU staff attorneys and thousands of volunteer attorneys handle countless civil liberties cases every year.


UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Civil Rights Division

Federal laws that address police misconduct include both criminal and civil statutes. These laws cover the actions of State, county, and local officers, including those who work in prisons and jails. In addition, several laws also apply to Federal law enforcement officers. The laws protect all persons in the United States (citizens and non-citizens).


Lawyers for Human Rights

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Macarthur Justice Center

National Urban League

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Police misconduct is prosecuted under the Department of Justice authority because, if civil rights are violated, it is a federal crime. Make sure you write down as many details as possible about the misconduct as you may be asked to recall those details in court.


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