While many police officers are committed to the health and safety of citizens they serve, some have little regard for the laws they promised to uphold. As a result, ordinary citizens can be wrongfully imprisoned, injured, or even lose their lives as a result of police misconduct.
While recent events have shown that police reform is sorely needed throughout the U.S., there are laws currently on record that can hold police officers accountable for misconduct. The Department of Justice (DOJ) explains these laws and the crimes they cover, so you can seek help should your rights be violated.
Police misconduct laws
A police officer cannot deprive a person of their rights while administering the law. This is the case when an officer uses excessive force during an arrest or behaves in a discriminatory manner when searching for or questioning a suspect. Officers are also not permitted to use coercion to force a person into a sexual or romantic relationship, fabricate evidence, or commit theft. Additionally, all searches and seizures must be conducted according to the law to be considered legal. Although it often is, discrimination does need to be a factor in the misconduct.
How police misconduct is punished
Like other crimes, police officers can receive fines or jail time for their actions if convicted. However, you are unable to file a civil lawsuit against a police officer for their misdeeds. Any filings of that nature must come from the DOJ itself.
How to file a complaint against a police officer
There are two agencies you can file a complaint with if you believe you have been a victim of police misconduct. Contact the United States Attorney’s Office in your area, or file a complaint with the FBI, as they are tasked with investigating civil rights violations.
While it may seem like an uphill battle, filing a complaint is crucial to shine a light on instances of police misconduct. You may also consider seeking out legal guidance to make sure your case is given the respect it deserves.