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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 150502 Find in a Library
Title: Risky Business: Exposure Under Section 1983
Journal: Public Risk  Volume:8  Issue:7  Dated:(August 1994)  Pages:6-9
Author(s): W C Smith; G P Alpert
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 4
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Title 42 of the U.S. Code, Section 1983, deals with civil rights and has been applied in the contexts of police use of deadly force and police pursuit operations.
Abstract: Section 1983 litigation against law enforcement has increased significantly in recent years, particularly in response to U.S. Supreme Court decisions affecting police use of deadly force. Police officers must be able to answer affirmatively to the following questions before choosing to use deadly force: whether the fleeing suspect poses a substantial threat to the public if immediate apprehension is delayed, and whether other means are available to stop the suspect's flight besides deadly force. Although differences exist from State to State, a police officer's decision to use deadly force in self-defense must be based on jeopardy, ability, and opportunity factors. With respect to pursuit operations, each State has legal provisions specifying conditions under which police officers can operate a vehicle as an authorized emergency vehicle. Pursuit operations pose serious legal difficulties for police departments if the pursuit is not properly conducted and if the department has not given its officers clear operational guidance on how to conduct the pursuit. Liability under Section 1983 for uncontrolled police activities in general is discussed, and the need for police department risk management is emphasized.
Main Term(s): Police legal limitations
Index Term(s): Police pursuit driving; Police responsibilities; Police use of deadly force; US Supreme Court decisions
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