How to Recognize Police Misconduct

Law enforcement officials are supposed to be pillars of the community. They have been trained to watch over citizens and protect them from those who would do them harm. Because of their incredible amount of power and influence, the police are ostensibly held to very high standards regarding misconduct. When a law enforcement professional fails to follow the letter of the law and act in accordance with his or her position, there must be repercussions. Recognizing police misconduct is part of how society holds law enforcement accountable. You cannot assume that an officer’s actions are legal simply because he or she is an officer. Citizens should know how to identify police misconduct and the process used to hold officers accountable. When the Police Do Not Obey the Law The United States Constitution, and legislation like the 1964 Civil Rights Act and related laws are intended to protect the nation’s citizens from government abuses. Section 1983 is the main civil rights law plaintiffs rely on in cases of police misconduct. The statute prevents officers and other state officials from taking away an individual’s constitutional rights. Any police officer who arrests an individual by using excessive force or without the evidence necessary to make an arrest may be brought to justice under this statute. Recognizing Misconduct Police misconduct can be difficult to identify. Sometimes the violations are egregious, but many police misconduct incidents ride a fine line between what is legal and what is not. Any time a law enforcement official uses excessive force or treats an individual noticeably different from others, it could be grounds for a case of misconduct. Other indicators of misconduct commonly involve strip searches or sexual assault. An officer should never make you feel dehumanized. The arresting process is intended to secure suspects for further evaluation, not to pass judgment or provide sentencing. Coercion and racial profiling are other forms of police misconduct that personal injury attorneys come across on a regular basis. If you feel that you or your loved one has been treated unfairly, contact an attorney for a free consultation. A personal injury attorney like the experienced lawyers at The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander can help you determine whether or not an action is legal and how to proceed if it is not. Read this article on How to Report Police Misconduct. Interacting with Law Enforcement in a Police Encounter It is imperative that all citizens know what police may or may not do. When stopped or questioned by police you have the right to:
  • Remain silent. If you wish to exercise this right, say so out loud. Tell the officers that you will not consent to speak until you have consulted an attorney.
  • Refuse consent to search.
  • If not under arrest, you always have the right to leave.
  • If arrested, you have the right to an attorney. Contact one right away.
Acting out in the presence of law enforcement officials is never advisable. It is your responsibility to remain calm and to be polite. It is important that you do not interfere with or obstruct the police in any way.  Sometimes the police will disregard your rights or step beyond their bounds. Here are a few things to remember when dealing with police misconduct:
  • Remain civil
  • Write everything down
  • Consult an attorney
Even if you are not sure whether an officer’s behavior is legal, it is imperative to keep a record of everything that happened to the best of your knowledge. An attorney will use the information to supplement an independent investigation and build a case fighting for your rights. For more information about police misconduct in the Chicago and surrounding areas, please contact our dedicated personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander today.