As Police Officers join the law enforcement before entering the ‘brotherhood’ they recite a pledge along the lines of:
“Protect the lives and property of our fellow citizens and impartially enforce the law. Fight crime both by preventing it and by aggressively pursing violators of the law. Maintain a higher standard of integrity than is generally expected of others because so much is expected of us. Value human life, respect the dignity of each individual and render our services with courtesy and civility”. (Mission Statement) Or a Law Enforcement Oath of Honor: “On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character, or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions. I will always uphold the constitution my community and the agency I serve”. [IACP] (What is The Law Enforcement Oath Of Honor).
Police Officers are placed with an enormous responsibility. Taking risk and suffering inconveniences to protect lives defend civil liberties, secure the safety of fellow citizens, and they endure such risks and tolerate such inconveniences on behalf of complete strangers. Consequently, police work is one of the more noble and selfless occupations on society. Making a difference in the quality of life is an opportunity that policing provides, and few other professions can offer.
We put our trust in police officers we expect them to perform their job accordingly. Therefore, when they perform misconduct towards citizens it shows us whom can we truly put our trust in? Police misconduct is any action performed by a law enforcement officer that is unethical, against established employment guidelines, unconstitutional, or criminal in nature. Police misconduct can lead to a miscarriage of justice and sometimes involves discrimination or obstruction of justice. (Packman, D.) Types of misconduct that can take place include: false confession, false arrest, false evidence, false imprisonment, intimidation, police brutality, police corruption, racial profiling, surveillance abuse, witness tampering, and off-duty misconduct, noble cause corruption (where the officer believes the good outcomes justify bad behavior), selective enforcement (knowledge and allowance of violations by friends, family, and/or acquaintances unreported), abuses of power, etc. (Packman, D.)
When ‘civil suits’ towards police misconduct are placed, it helps prevent other police officers from committing any false actions on/ and off duty. It also shows us citizens we have rights and even a person with authority has to abide by those rights. A primary purpose of the nation’s civil rights laws is to protect citizens from abuses by government, including police misconduct. Civil suits remind police officers they do have broad powers to their duties BUT “The Constitution” and other laws, place limits on how far a police can go in trying to enforce the law. A statute known as Section 1983 is the primary civil rights law victims of police misconduct rely upon. This law was originally passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which I believe was intended to curb oppressive conduct by government and private individuals participating in vigilante groups. Section 1983 makes it unlawful for anyone acting under authority of state of law to deprive another person of his or her rights under the Constitution or federal law. Congress also passed 42 U.S.C 14141 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (VCCLEA). This statute makes it unlawful for a police agency to engage in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional misconduct. Also gives U.S Attorney General the authority to seek injunctive or equitable relief to force police agencies to accept reforms aimed at curbing misconduct. (Rushin, S.)
Civil rights claims are an important part of our legal system, providing a balance between