There are times when, either in regular activities or while on duty, officers may cross over into violating the law. The majority of these cases aren’t for issues much worse than a regular person may run into trouble for. However, it seems as though a new high profile case enters the media circus every few months. The Rodney King case, for example, is one that not only showed how negative the effects of a breach in power, but had lasting effects on law enforcement and communities in the U.S.
It’s important to remember not every officer is a rotten apple. An overwhelming majority of police officers will never face criminal charges, just like any other regular citizen. Precincts everywhere are also constantly taking steps to monitor and hold officers accountable for their actions. If an officer does break the law, over half of all cases are nonviolent crimes. Things such as DUIs, misuse of badge and discrimination. Violent, chaotic issues such as what’s reported on the news are less than a quarter of all cases.
Based on what information is available there is an estimated 4,861 cases of misconduct each year. Investigation and prosecution of these cases costs taxpayers approximately $1.8 billion each year (source). These are some of the more serious ways an officer can break the law…
Falsification of Case Materials
Police officers have a lot of leverage during the arrest and prosecution process. While this rarely is an issue, it has a history of occurring. When a person is detained without probable cause, a false arrest has been made. An officer is required to justify their arrest with evidence. In some instances, false or tampered evidence has been provided to cover their tail. Or, in more extreme cases, intimidation tactics are used to force a confession. In both circumstances, the officers are creating a fake narrative.
Millions of arrests happen each year. Very few happen under violent circumstances, although the high profile nature leads to wide media coverage. Whether it’s brutality or murder, what’s important is this act can be justified if the situation calls for it. If the officer justifiably feels their life is at risk, they may use lethal force. Once the dust has settled officers are usually put on leave while an investigation determines the facts. If an officer is found unjustified, they will face criminal charges on par with regular assault and murder cases.
Unwarranted Search and Seizure
Investigating the private property of another citizens requires a court order based on an evidence-backed case. Regardless of reasoning, if an officer searches or confiscates property without proof of a warrant, they will face criminal charges.