Importance of State Law in Police Reform
Saint Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 60, No. 363, 2016
29 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2016
Date Written: May 17, 2016
Most articles on police reform concern the role of federal courts in enforcing constitutional rights under the fourth, fifth and sixth amendments through application of the exclusionary rule, criminal prosecution of law enforcement officers and pattern and practice suits brought against police departments. Additionally, much has been written about the need for civilian review of departmental discipline at the local level. In contrast, the focus of this article is on state law. On the one hand, state criminal prosecution of officers involved in shootings of unarmed, Black suspects has been shown to be ineffective because of the unwillingness of prosecutors to charge, grand juries to indict and petit juries to convict. On the other hand, the approach of some states to seek administrative remedies has proved somewhat effective, particularly revocation of state licenses of police officers for serious misconduct and, more recently, enactment of laws that provide for decertification of entire police departments.
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