Legal Remedies for Police Misconduct
Rachel A. Harmon, Legal Remedies for Police Misconduct, in Academy for Justice, a Report on Scholarship and Criminal Justice Reform (Erik Luna ed., 2017) (Forthcoming)
13 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2017 Last revised: 9 Oct 2017
Date Written: August 9, 2017
Federal courts have limited the legal remedies for constitutional violations in policing to the point that they do not discourage police misconduct to the satisfaction of many communities. States and police departments impose additional penalties on police officers who violate the law, but only inconsistently, leading communities to distrust these solutions as well. Yet, because there are so many mechanisms for scrutinizing police conduct, officers often feel over-regulated. Policymakers and legislators cannot change all of the obstacles to using litigation to improve policing. But by making it easier and less expensive for departments to adopt helpful reforms, by encouraging community input into police policy-making, and by supporting research, data collection, and transparency in policing, they can promote policing practices that protect rights and build community trust. In these ways, policymakers and legislators can improve police accountability, even as courts make it harder for private citizens and public officials to use legal remedies to do so.
Keywords: police, police accountability, remedies, 1983, 14141, pattern and practice, exclusionary rule, decertification, internal affairs, police reform, police misconduct, Fourth Amendment, qualified immunity, Lyons, structural reform, civil rights
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