Police Disciplinary Issues

Civil Rights Defense Attorneys in Michigan and Florida

Police disciplinary procedures can focus on two areas: external controls, and accountability and identification of rogue officers. External controls allow oversight by persons outside of the police department. This gives objectivity and external control, and allows the community to feel as the department is accountable to civilians. This will help improve community relations and confidence in the department. Four methods commonly allow external control:

  1. A civilian review board exists independent of any internal affairs department, and contains citizens appointed by other governmental officials or departments. The review board then looks at complaints against the department by citizens, and recommends disciplinary action after any internal investigation is concluded. Sometimes the review board is even given power to conduct its own investigation into complaints, including such quasi-judicial authority such as compelling witnesses, and documents and issuing subpoenas.
  2. An independent monitor or auditor can be appointed by the courts or other government officials, and exists to review the department’s current procedures and activities to determine if the procedures in place are sufficient to prevent misconduct, and suggest new policies as necessary. A monitor collects data and does some statistical analysis of the department. Such monitors have been used to varying success. Monitors over the Detroit Police Department, appointed by a federal judge, have made questionable process. However, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) was believed to use it successfully to deal with police brutality claims and public concerns.
  3. An outside or independent investigator can also be used to handle public complaints. Usually this person can conduct their own investigation and interviews witnesses and reviews evidence in cases. This investigator helps shape a police department’s investigation as the investigation is ongoing, rather than review it afterwards like a review board.
  4. A special prosecutor can be used for criminal charges against a police officer for police misconduct. At times a prosecutor in the jurisdiction may not want to address charges against an officer or department his office works with on a daily basis. In those circumstances, a special prosecutor can be appointed and act independently to prevent a freezing of the local office’s relationship with police.

The accountability and identification of rogue officers can greatly assist a police department’s public relations and the public’s faith in the department. Unfortunately, a handful of officers can cause a number of incidents that can dramatically affect the public’s faith in a department. Accountability can include an incentive strategy, a computerized risk-management system installing video cameras in police cars, preemptive assessment evaluations of officers, improved relations between law enforcement and citizens, community policing, recruitment of minorities, and awareness and use of force training. Chapman Law Group offers its expertise in addressing such issues with police forces to avoid litigation and plan future defenses. In the light of recent events, such as in Florida and Missouri, such sophisticated help is needed more than ever by law enforcement.



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