Law Enforcement Abuse of Power
The term “abuse of power” encompasses all the ways police officers can abuse their positions by taking advantage of the very people they have pledged to serve and protect. While most police officers take that pledge seriously, there are some who abuse the power given them to fulfill selfish personal desires. Abuse of power by a law enforcement officer could include:
- The use of excessive force;
- Placing a citizen under false arrest;
- Warrantless searches or arrests;
- Assault upon a citizen;
- Forcing a citizen to have sex in return for not arresting them or giving them a ticket;
- Violations of the civil rights of a citizen;
- Engaging in fraud or theft, and
- An unlawful murder.
Many citizens who are victims of law enforcement abuse of power are left feeling they have no recourse against the officer who injured them and abused his or her power as a police officer. It is important for these people to know that just because a person has a badge and has been given some authority, they are not above the law. In 2009 The Cato Institute reported 449 incidents of reported police misconduct which were tracked in the national news. Among those reports, excessive force complaints against police officers were the most common, followed by sexual misconduct complaints against police officers, then fraud and theft reports against police officers. Some more disturbing facts regarding law enforcement abuse of power, also from The Cato Institute, include:
- Among the top ten worst cities by total number of police officer abuse of power reports, Murfreesboro, TN came in at number 9.
- Among the states, Montana ranked number one per capita for incidences of police officer abuse of power at 6.2 incidences per 100,000 people. Tennessee ranked 8th, at 2.9 incidences per 100,000 people.
- One out of every 135.8 police officers across the nation will be implicated (in the news media) for a criminal act or an act of misconduct.
- While one out of every 220 citizens will be accused of a violent crime, that number is one out of every 352 police officers.
- One out of every 1,063 police officers will be accused of a sexual assault, while one out of every 3,413 citizens will be accused of a sexual assault.
Unfortunately, over the past few years, a day seldom goes by without another case of police brutality or abuse of power by police officers being reported in the news. The frequency of these occurrences begs the question as to whether this is simply our new norm—and whether the public can ever truly feel safe and protected by law enforcement. We hear of police officers bursting into the wrong homes, even shooting those inside the home, then claiming someone made a “sudden move,” to justify their use of excessive force.
We also hear of citizens being shot in the back, while the officer claims the citizen was acting in a threatening manner. Turning in false reports, planting evidence, and even being the aggressor with the public are all things which are not all that uncommon any more. These incidences make us wonder why more and more police officers appear to have abusive personalities. Is it that the type of person attracted to law enforcement are bullies to begin with, therefore the promise of power and lack of oversight is appealing? Or, in our digital age, is it just that more of these situations are being recorded?
Your Rights Under Mississippi Laws and Our Constitution
Certainly, the actions of a few bad police officers make it more difficult for those officers who genuinely want to do an honest job, and be an upstanding role model in their chosen profession, however if you believe you have been the victim of police brutality, you must know your rights. You have the right to be silent, and this can certainly be the most important action you can take when you are the target of an officer’s abuse of power—or in any situation with the police.
As soon as possible following an incident of police abuse of power, it is important that you carefully document the incident, including time, place, officer(s) involved, witnesses, and any other facts you can remember. If you require medical attention, see a doctor quickly, and keep a copy of all your medical records related to your injuries. Finally, contact a Mississippi attorney who has experience in protecting the civil rights of citizens and in defending citizens against abuse of power by law enforcement.
How Stroud, Flechas & Dalton Can Help
Law enforcement abuse of power situations can often lead to a miscarriage of justice, and may also involve discrimination of one type or another. Police abuse of power can also involve corruption—abusing police authority for personal gains. Police corruption can include receiving stolen goods, extortion, bribery and the sale of drugs. Stroud, Flechas & Dalton has handled many law enforcement abuse of power cases.
Our attorneys understand that a person who has been the victim of law enforcement abuse of power may feel helpless and even frightened. We know that cases involving police abuse of power require thorough research and investigation, and we will commit the time and dedication necessary to your case, while protecting your rights at every turn. Call Stroud, Flechas & Dalton today at (662) 536-5656, or fill out the contact form on the right.