Forms of Police Misconduct
Police officers are supposed to protect the law and innocent citizens, yet more and more we see law enforcement perpetrate types of police misconduct, eroding our trust in our police forces. This is unacceptable. We all need to be able to recognize the many forms of police misconduct, in order to be able to report it and help law enforcement weed out bad, or even illegal, behaviors.
There are three broad categories of police misconduct:
- Procedural – Police misconduct that refers to any action that violates police procedure.
- Criminal – Misconduct referring to actions specifically against the law.
- Constitutional – Misconduct that is any action which violates a person’s civil rights.
Often, actual misconduct can fall in more than one category. For example, a false arrest where the officer beats the suspect would be constitutional (because it violates the person’s rights without just cause) and criminal (because beating an unarmed person is an illegal assault) and possibly even procedural (because most police forces have policies in place to prevent this from happening). As you can see, the category of police misconduct matters less than the actual actions. Each is equally prohibited.
Most Common Types of Police Misconduct
When we think of police misconduct, often we associate it solely with police brutality. This is, of course, a horrible kind of misconduct, but it is only one type of behavior that could be considered an abuse of power or violation of the police officer’s position. There are many types of police misconduct. The following are the most common:
- Brutality: We have recently seen some horrible cases related to this in the news. Police brutality refers to the use of excessive force on someone beyond what is necessary in the situation. This includes beatings and lethal force when it is not called for, but also less obvious cases of force against weak or unarmed suspects.
- Abuse of Authority: This includes any police action that uses its position of authority to perpetrate a crime or civil rights violation. This could range from sexual abuse to forcibly coercing a confession.
- Bias/ Racial Profiling: This would be using racial or other prejudicial attributes as the basis of an arrest, search or harassment.
- Bribery, Kickbacks, or Extortion: A police officer should never receive extra compensation for his or her duties. On the other side of the spectrum, he or she shouldn’t turn a blind eye to a crime due to financial motivation. Any time law enforcement uses its position to take advantage of a financial opportunity they shouldn’t have, it’s misconduct.
- Falsifying Evidence: Falsifying evidence can include planting evidence at a crime scene or making up false witness statements.
- False Arrest: Officers should never arrest a suspect without sufficient evidence.
These are just a few ways that police misconduct manifests itself, but any abuse of the badge is considered police misconduct. While a good officer does not perpetrate these crimes, it is important to hold those accountable who do.
If you feel that you have been arrested falsely or otherwise been subject to police abuse during a criminal proceeding in Pennsylvania, your story deserves to be heard. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can use this evidence to help you during trial. You may even be able to get the charges dropped altogether. Call Pittsburgh criminal lawyers at the Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 for a free consultation to see how we may be able to help in your case.