Controlling Police Through Litigation

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Controlling Police Through Litigation

Controlling Police Through Litigation
Police departments draft and implement policies and procedures to provide consistency and eliminate ambiguity in department practices. These are guidelines are for staff and officers to follow in a variety of different situations. Police policies and procedures may have the force of law, or be considered by a court or jury in determining whether an officer acted lawfully in the line of duty. Procedures related to employee actions can also be subject to legal scrutiny in some cases. A lack of policies on issues involving the community may result in unlawful and inconsistent police action. These adverse actions can create a negative reaction within the community, and open the police officers within the department to legal liability. Michael Lyman quoted Section 1983, “Every person under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of any state or territory, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or any other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the depravation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.” (pg. 270) Basically, this means that police officers are prohibited from violating any person’s civil rights. Section 1983 is a tool for a citizen to use to sue another for a violation of civil rights. Some elements must be met in order to be subject to liability through Section 1983. First, he questionable liability or violator of Section 1983 must be a "person”. A police department, state agency, or other legal entity, cannot be subject to liability under the statute. Second, the liable “person” must have been acting under the color of authority when the accused violation took place. A police officer who unlawfully beats a suspect in the commission of an arrest would be acting under...
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