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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 148621 Find in a Library
Title: Police Liability
Journal: Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine  Volume:18  Issue:2  Dated:(February 1994)  Pages:36-39,74
Author(s): C A Sullivan
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 5
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This examination of factors in police civil liability considers the "layers" of liability, how individual officers should protect themselves from liability, and the "good faith" defense.
Abstract: When a civil suit is brought because of the actions of individual officers, the police agency and the government under whose auspices the agency works may also be included in the suit. Courts have held that a police agency must have written official policies that clearly specify what officers are supposed to do in any given situation. Once the policies have been developed, the organization is then responsible for training its personnel in the practical application of these policies, as well as in areas such as State and local laws, constitutional law, and other necessary skills. Courts have said the training must meet a number of criteria, including applicability to the task. The training program must also show that the trainee has mastered the topic or was given additional training until he was able to master the topic. Police agencies must ensure that their policies and training are current with changes in the law and police procedures. Once the police department has done all required to ensure that its officers act appropriately in various situations, individual officers must avoid liability by conforming to departmental policy in their performance. Performance must also be documented clearly in police reports. Reports must be truthful and detailed. Observations and facts rather than these officers' conclusions should be stated in the report. An officer may make a mistake and still not be liable if a jury perceives that the officer acted reasonably and with the intent of performing appropriate law enforcement duties.
Main Term(s): Police legal limitations
Index Term(s): Civil liability; Courts; Police policies and procedures
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