Law enforcement agencies are a very attractive target when it comes to litigation. Thus, civil liability is a concern in American policing and will continue to be. Often time civil lawsuits against police are filed when they abuse their power, are negligent, or violate the civil rights of a citizen. Police officers and administrators understand the possibility of litigation. However, the circumstances where they will be held liable is not always clear. For this reason, police administrators need to understand the law and how police practices can potentially lead to litigation. Their goal is to minimize the risk of law suits in their department as the costs of liability in policing can be astronomical.
You are a mayor of a large city. The police department in your city has several complaints filed in the past year with Internal Affairs about certain police practices. As a mayor you are concerned that these complaints may turn into lawsuits against the city that could potentially cost millions of dollars. You have never had to deal with a lawsuit against the city and its police department. You want to understand more about the nature of civil liability associated with policing. You call the police chief into your office and give him an assignment to prepare a report answering the following points:
· What are some of the more common reasons why people sue a police department?
· Can someone sue the police in a state and federal court? Explain.
· What is the harm caused when someone sues a police department?
· How can civil liability be reduced?