Essay on Controlling Police Through Litigation

689 Words3 Pages
Controlling Police Through Litigation Controlling Police Through Litigation
Police departments draft and implement policies and procedures to provide consistency and eliminate ambiguity in department practices. These are guidelines are for staff and officers to follow in a variety of different situations. Police policies and procedures may have the force of law, or be considered by a court or jury in determining whether an officer acted lawfully in the line of duty. Procedures related to employee actions can also be subject to legal scrutiny in some cases. A lack of policies on issues involving the community may result in unlawful and inconsistent police action. These adverse actions can create a negative reaction within the
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For example, a subject who was beaten by a police officer can sue that officer for excessive force, without proving it was the officer’s intention to violate his rights, but only that the officer intended to beat him. In some cases an officer’s supervisor can be held liable because he/she is responsible for the negligence of that officer. This is known as vicarious liability, or “imputed negligence” (freedictionary.com). For example, a gang member who shoots and kills another person during a hold-up is responsible for the murder, but other gang members may be held vicariously liable for the same murder.
There are several different types of defense for civil suits, and also persons who are immune to the liability in question. There are three types of immunity, they are: absolute immunity, quasi-judicial immunity, and qualified immunity.
Michael Lyman lists judges, prosecutors, and legislators, as those who enjoy absolute immunity during civil liability suits (Lyman pg. 272). Lyman also reminds us that police officers and witnesses can obtain absolute immunity while testifying during a criminal trial, but if found providing false testimony, may be charged with perjury.
Persons within a department, performing his/her duties as assigned, during the alleged time of a Section 1983 violation, and not involved in the violation, obtain quasi-judicial immunity. Quasi-judicial immunity is
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