Criminal behavior is a constant feature in human societies. This is why the police exist to maintain law and order and protect the rights of citizens. However, due to the highly charged nature of the job, police sometimes go beyond the limit in exercising their powers. When this occurs, there are steps a citizen might take to seek redress. This article highlights a few such steps for dealing with police misconduct.
In order to properly address police misconduct, one must first recognize it as such. Due to the nature of police duty, many people may mistake illegal actions taken by police officers as a normal or necessary part of their job. While the police are legally allowed to take drastic actions in the course of discharging their duty, some conducts are deemed inappropriate and officers can be punished for them. As behaviors that count as misconduct are numerous, it is important to learn about them so that you can know when a police officer has crossed a line.
Know your rights
Knowing your constitutional rights is helpful in everyday life and doubly so when dealing with law enforcement agents. There are several rights you can exercise depending on what illegal action a police officer is taking. If, for instance, an officer harasses you in public, you have the right to record the incident, remain silent, request for their name and badge number, or refuse to be searched. You can even walk away if you’re not being detained or accused of anything. Simply ask the officer if you’re free to go and leave if they don’t say no.
Make a complaint
Within police departments, there are standards guiding officers’ actions and punishments reserved for those who act inappropriately. Following an incident of police misconduct, it is important for the victim to lodge a complaint with the offending officer’s department. This should be done as soon as possible after the incident as there’s a time limit to making such complaints. To file a complaint, make a detailed description of what occurred using as much information as possible and include personal details of the offending officer. Submit it online or at the local precinct.
Talk to a lawyer
Law enforcement officers are not immune from civil or criminal charges. If you have reason to believe that the police have committed a crime against you or violated your rights, you may be entitled to damages. Approach a lawyer with the information you have to determine if you have a case. A police misconduct attorney will be able to inform you on what steps to take to address the issue. Due to the authority they have, encounters with law enforcement are often fraught with danger. It is impossible to know which officer will step out of line. It is therefore important to remember when dealing with police, that the law prohibits any form of misconduct. Should engagement with police leave you feeling violated, do not hesitate to take necessary action.
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