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The Interaction and Relationship between Prosecutors and Police Officers in the U.S., and How this Affects Police Reform Efforts


David A. Harris


University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

June 13, 2011

THE PROSECUTOR IN TRANSNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE, Erik Luna and Marianne Wade, eds., Oxford University Press, 2011
U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-19

Abstract:     
This chapter, part of a larger effort to examine the prosecutorial role in different legal systems, examines the interaction and relationship between American prosecutors and police departments, and the consequences of these arrangements for police misconduct and efforts to reform police agencies. It begins with a description of how these disparate but interlocking parts of the American criminal justice system function together, with particular emphasis on two signal characteristics of the American prosecutorial function: the two-tiered (national and state) nature of prosecution in the U.S., and the popular election of the vast majority of American prosecutors at the state level. With these characteristics in mind, the chapter then describes their implications for the issue of police misconduct and suggests possibilities for reforming deficient police practices. The potential for police reform through the efforts of prosecutors may appear bleak, but a relatively new federal statute has begun to make a difference. This new law, known as the, “pattern or practice,” statute, holds the key to making progress in American police practices.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 12

Keywords: prosecutor, state, federal, pattern or practice, discretion, elected, U.S. Attorney, constitutional rights, law enforcement, policy reform, accountability, legal reform, police misconduct, legislation

JEL Classification: K14, K42

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Date posted: June 15, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Harris, David A., The Interaction and Relationship between Prosecutors and Police Officers in the U.S., and How this Affects Police Reform Efforts (June 13, 2011). THE PROSECUTOR IN TRANSNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE, Erik Luna and Marianne Wade, eds., Oxford University Press, 2011; U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-19. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1864118

Contact Information

David A. Harris (Contact Author)
University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )
3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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