In New York, police misconduct is an act of intentional, recklessness or negligence that breaches law enforcement’s responsibility to protect and respect the public. Besides physical conduct, police misconduct can entail harassment, humiliation, false confinement and even loss of work and wages.
Examples of police misconduct
The circumstances entailing inappropriate police conduct include the following.
Police need just cause to detain a person. If probable cause isn’t visible, law enforcement has violated your civil rights.
If conditions require, law enforcement can run red lights and speed through traffic. But the police cannot do this recklessly. Any person injured as a result can hold law enforcement responsible.
Excessive force or brutality
To carry out their duties, law enforcement can apply reasonable and necessary use of force. Overstepping the bounds in this arena includes:
- Beating or hitting a subdued or compliant individual
- Firing at unarmed individuals
- Needless application of pepper spray or taser guns
- Racial profiling
Police must treat a detained person without prejudice. Officers acting negligently — and if the misconduct results in death — are engaging in the worst kind of misconduct.
What to do
On duty or off, police officers have a code of conduct. When they violate it, you have a few options.
- File a civil lawsuit to receive compensation.
- Register a complaint at the precinct where the office works.
- Contact an independent review or oversight board.
- If the officer(s) broke the law, file charges.
- Take community action. Organize or participate in marches, speak at forums, attend rallies, testify at public hearings, organize a movement such as Black Lives Matter.
Every New Yorker must remember they are not helpless. You do not have to accept law enforcement misconduct. Take any and all actions locally, state-wise or federally to promote accountability and public safety.