ADDRESSING POLICE MISCONDUCT LAWS ENFORCED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
The vast majority of the law enforcement officers in this country perform their very difficult jobs with respect for their communities and in compliance with the law. Even so, there are incidents in which this is not the case. This document outlines the laws enforced by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) that address police misconduct and explains how you can file a complaint with DOJ if you believe that your rights have been violated.
Federal laws that address police misconduct include both criminal and civil statutes. These laws cover the actions of State, county, and local officers, including those who work in prisons and jails. In addition, several laws also apply to Federal law enforcement officers. The laws protect all persons in the United States (citizens and non-citizens).
Each law DOJ enforces is briefly discussed below. In DOJ investigations, whether criminal or civil, the person whose rights have been reportedly violated is referred to as a victim and often is an important witness. DOJ generally will inform the victim of the results of the investigation, but we do not act as the victim’s lawyer and cannot give legal advice as a private attorney could.
The various offices within DOJ that are responsible for enforcing the laws discussed in this document coordinate their investigation and enforcement efforts where appropriate. For example, a complaint received by one office may be referred to another if necessary to address the allegations. In addition, more than one office may investigate the same complaint if the allegations raise issues covered by more than one statute. What is the difference between criminal and civil cases? Criminal and civil laws are different. Criminal cases usually are investigated and handled separately from civil cases, even if they concern the same incident. In a criminal case, DOJ brings a case against the accused person; in a civil case, DOJ brings the case (either through litigation or an administrative investigation) against a governmental authority or law enforcement agency. In a criminal case, the evidence must establish proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” while in civil cases the proof need only satisfy the lower standard of a “preponderance of the evidence.” Finally, in criminal cases, DOJ seeks to punish a wrongdoer for past misconduct through imprisonment or other sanction. In civil cases, DOJ seeks to correct a law enforcement agency’s policies and practices that fostered the misconduct and, where appropriate, may require individual relief for the victim(s).
Federal Criminal Enforcement
It is a crime for one or more persons acting under color of law willfully to deprive or conspire to deprive another person of any right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. (18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242). “Color of law” simply means that the person doing the act is using power given to him or her by a governmental agency (local, State, or Federal). A law enforcement officer acts “under color of law” even if he or she is exceeding his or her rightful power. The types of law enforcement misconduct covered by these laws include excessive force, sexual assault, intentional false arrests, or the intentional fabrication of evidence resulting in a loss of liberty to another. Enforcement of these provisions does not require that any racial, religious, or other discriminatory motive existed. What remedies are available under these laws? Violations of these laws are punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. There is no private right of action under these statutes; in other words, these are not the legal provisions under which you would file a lawsuit on your own.
Federal Civil Enforcement
“Police Misconduct Provision”
This law makes it unlawful for State or local law enforcement officers to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of rights protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States. (42 U.S.C. § 14141). The types of conduct covered by this law can include, among other things, excessive force, discriminatory harassment, false arrests, coercive sexual conduct, and unlawful stops, searches or arrests. In order to be covered by this law, the misconduct must constitute a “pattern or practice” — it may not simply be an isolated incident. The DOJ must be able to show in court that the agency has an unlawful policy or that the incidents constituted a pattern of unlawful conduct. However, unlike the other civil laws discussed below, DOJ does not have to show that discrimination has occurred in order to prove a pattern or practice of misconduct. What remedies are available under this law? The remedies available under this law do not provide for individual monetary relief for the victims of the misconduct. Rather, they provide for injunctive relief, such as orders to end the misconduct and changes in the agency’s policies and procedures that resulted in or allowed the misconduct. There is no private right of action under this law; only DOJ may file suit for violations of the Police Misconduct Provision.
Police Corruption and Misconduct
The violation of state and federal laws or the violation of individuals’ constitutional rights by police officers; also when police commit crimes for personal gain.
Police misconduct and corruption are abuses of police authority. Sometimes used interchangeably, the terms refer to a wide range of procedural, criminal, and civil violations. Misconduct is the broadest category. Misconduct is “procedural” when it refers to police who violate police department rules and regulations; “criminal” when it refers to police who violate state and federal laws; “unconstitutional” when it refers to police who violate a citizen’s civil rights; or any combination thereof. Common forms of misconduct are excessive use of physical or deadly force, discriminatory arrest, physical or verbal harassment, and selective enforcement of the law.
Police corruption is the abuse of police authority for personal gain. Corruption may involve profit or another type of material benefit gained illegally as a consequence of the officer’s authority. Typical forms of corruption include bribery, extortion, receiving or fencing stolen goods, and selling drugs. The term also refers to patterns of misconduct within a given police department or special unit, particularly where offenses are repeated with the acquiescence of superiors or through other ongoing failure to correct them.
Safeguards against police misconduct exist throughout the law. Police departments themselves establish codes of conduct, train new recruits, and investigate and discipline officers, sometimes in cooperation with civilian complaint review boards which are intended to provide independent evaluative and remedial advice. Protections are also found in state law, which permits victims to sue police for damages in civil actions. Typically, these actions are brought for claims such as the use of excessive force (“police brutality”), false arrest and imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and wrongful death. State actions may be brought simultaneously with additional claims for constitutional violations.
Through both criminal and civil statutes, federal law specifically targets police misconduct. Federal law is applicable to all state, county, and local officers, including those who work in correctional facilities. The key federal criminal statute makes it unlawful for anyone acting with police authority to deprive or conspire to deprive another person of any right protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States (Section 18 U.S.C. § 241 ). Another statute, commonly referred to as the police misconduct provision, makes it unlawful for state or local police to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives persons of their rights (42 U.S.C.A. 14141 ).
Additionally, federal law prohibits discrimination in police work. Any police department receiving federal funding is covered by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000d) and the Office of Justice Programs statute (42 U.S.C. § 3789d[c]), which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. These laws prohibit conduct ranging from racial slurs and unjustified arrests to the refusal of departments to respond to discrimination complaints.
Because neither the federal criminal statute nor the civil police misconduct provision provides for lawsuits by individuals, only the federal government may bring suit under these laws. Enforcement is the responsibility of the Justice Department. Criminal convictions are punishable by fines and imprisonment. Civil convictions are remedied through injunctive relief, a type of court order that requires a change in behavior; typically, resolutions in such cases force police departments to stop abusive practices, institute types of reform, or submit to court supervision.
Private litigation against police officers or departments is difficult. Besides time and expense, a significant hurdle to success is found in the legal protections that police enjoy. Since the late twentieth century, many court decisions have expanded the powers of police to perform routine stops and searches. Plaintiffs generally must prove willful or unlawful conduct on the part of police; showing mere negligence or other failure of due care by police officers often does not suffice in court.
Most problematically of all for plaintiffs, police are protected by the defense of immunity—an exemption from penalties and burdens that the law generally places on other citizens. This immunity is limited, unlike the absolute immunity enjoyed by judges or legislators. In theory, the defense allows police to do their job without fear of reprisal. In practice, however, it has become increasingly difficult for individuals to sue law enforcement officers for damages for allegedly violating their civil rights. U.S. Supreme Court decisions have continually asserted the general rule that officers must be given the benefit of the doubt that they acted lawfully in carrying out their day-to-day duties, a position reasserted in Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 121 S. Ct. 2151, 150 L. Ed. 2d 272 (2001).
Accomplishments of the U.S. Department of Justice
The mission of the Department of Justice is to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. From 2001 to 2009, the Department has fulfilled that mission and advanced the interests of justice and the rights of the American people.
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Department made combating terrorism its top priority. This shift required a significant revision to the Department’s structures, polices and procedures and a sub stantial investment of resources. Most significant were the creation of a separate National Security Division and the FBI’s efforts to transform itself from primarily a law enforcement agency into a law enforcement and domestic intelligence agency. In 2006 the Department set up the National Security Division, a new com ponent tasked with leading the Department’s efforts to combat terrorism. As part of that reorganization, the Department launched an extensive effort to prosecute threats to national security as soon as the law, evidence and circumstances permitted. In addition, between Fiscal Year 2001 and FY 2008, the FBI’s budget roughly doubled, allowing for large increases in the number of intelligence analysts and language analysts, and increasing the use of special initiatives such as Joint Terrorism Task Forces. As a result of these efforts, numer ous domestic and international terrorist plots were disrupted and many of the people involved were prose cuted and sent to prison, including Richard Reid (the “shoe bomber”), Zacarias Moussaoui and Jose Padilla.
Another top priority of the Department over the past eight years was combating violent crime. This priori ty included targeting gun crimes, dismantling gangs, disrupting drug trafficking and protecting children from sexual exploitation. The Department made strides in each of these areas. For example, since the inception of the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative approximately eight years ago, the Department has more than doubled the number of gun crime prosecutions when compared to the previous eight years. Recognizing that our nation faced an epidemic of technology-assisted exploitation crimes targeting children, the Department launched Project Safe Childhood in 2006. As a result, federal child sexual exploitation charges increased by 33 percent between FY 2006 and FY 2008. The Department also maintained its overall drug prosecution rate, successfully targeting and prosecuting the manufacturing and distribution of drugs such as metham phetamine. These measures and others, all of which have emphasized cooperation with the Department’s state and local law enforcement partners, contributed to violent crime rates near a 30-year low.
The Department has made a significant effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. Working with other agencies in the executive branch, the Department has obtained approximately 1,300 convictions, including more than 200 corporate chief executives or presidents, more than 120 vice presidents and more than 50 chief financial officers, at corporations including WorldCom, Adelphia and Enron. The Department also focused on investigating and prosecuting fraud associated with the dispersion of federal money. In par ticular, the Department established a National Procurement Fraud task force and focused its efforts on areas such as Medicare spending, defense procurement connected to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and government aid following hurricanes and other natural disasters. Since 2001, the Department’s suits against violators of the nation’s antitrust, tax and environmental laws have resulted in record fines.
The Department launched new enforcement initiatives to enforce civil rights laws, including investigations into housing discrimination and human trafficking, and a concerted effort to combat a backlash against Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South-Asian Americans following 9/11. Substantial efforts were made to protect religious liberties and the rights of America’s service members, the disabled, women and other protected groups. With respect to elections and the voting process, the Civil Rights Division brought record numbers of cases under the language minority provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and expanded the use of federal moni tors and observers to ensure ballot access and integrity.
Over the past eight years, the Department has amassed a strong record of accomplishment. The work of law enforcement touches all aspects of American life, and the dedicated men and women of the Department work hard on behalf of the American people. The appendices that follow lay out in greater detail those accom plishments and the results, and extent, of that hard work. Taken together, the Department’s record is one of which all Americans can and should be proud.
Key Reference: 9-65.500 – Interference with or Obstruction of the Secret Service—18 U.S.C. § 3056(d)
Section 3056(d) of Title 18 prohibits knowingly and willfully obstructing, resisting, or interfering with a Federal law enforcement agent who is engaged in protective functions. The Secret Service will conduct investigations of alleged violations of 18 U.S.C. § 3056(d) and forward copies of all investigative reports to the United States Attorney and to the Counterterrorism Section (CTS) of the National Security Division. The Counterterrorism Section has supervisory responsibility over 18 U.S.C. § 3056(d).
For an additional discussion of this offense, see the Criminal Resource Manual at 1562.
Size of a community’s police force predictor of police misconduct
The size of a community’s police force is a greater predictor for police misconduct than its ethnic diversity, according to researchers. In a study of nearly 500 city police departments across the United States, researchers found police departments with a large number of full-time employees are more likely to experience reported incidents of police misconduct, including excessive force, sexual misconduct, financial misconduct, and driving under the influence. This contradicts previous claims by other studies that a large police organization can potentially reduce misconduct.
The size of a community’s police force is a greater predictor for police misconduct than its ethnic diversity, according to researchers.
In a study of nearly 500 city police departments across the United States, researchers from FIU and Montana State University found police departments with a large number of full-time employees are more likely to experience reported incidents of police misconduct, including excessive force, sexual misconduct, financial misconduct, and driving under the influence. This contradicts previous claims by other studies that a large police organization can potentially reduce misconduct.
FIUquotesFIUcriminal justice researcher Stewart D’Alessio as saying that large organizations tend to experience difficulty in monitoring a large number of employees.
The study, published in Police Quarterly, reports a city’s violent crime rate — including the number of murders, forcible rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults — is the only external factor that influences police misconduct. Other environmental factors — including population diversity, unemployment rate, percentage of households receiving public assistance, percentage of families below poverty level, or percentage of female-headed households with children — do not appear to be relevant in explaining why one police department experiences more instances of police misconduct than another.
Few studies have examined the role of internal factors in predicting the most common forms of police misconduct, including bribery, theft and drug use.
“There are more than eleven million arrests made annually in the United States,” D’Alessio said. “Cases of police-use of excessive force are often highlighted in mass media and social media, but these are just a few incidents that occur out of 11 million arrests.”
According to the researchers, because internal rather than external factors are better predictors of police misconduct, police departments have the ability to implement policies that can help reduce the occurrence of police misconduct.
ANALYZING MISCONDUCT IN FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME, TERRORISM (HAZMAT), HOMELAND SECURITY, AND INVESTIGATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ONE HUNDRED FOURTEENTH CONGRESS
APRIL 15, 2015
Key Reference: Serial No. 114–28
Special Operations for Terrorism and HAZMAT Crimes….
(The federal USA PATRIOT Act requires Commercial Driver License (CDL) holders to pass a national background check administered by the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) before their licenses may be endorsed for transport of hazardous materials.)
USA PATRIOT ACT Requirements for CDL Holders with a HAZMAT Endorsement
Counter-Terrorism Security Advisors
American Investigative Services has several prominent law enforcement supervisors on staff as consultants. These command level officers bring to AIS the skills and experience necessary to effectively manage and control a variety of security-related projects, and the ability to act as liaison between local, state, and federal officials and the private sector. Our security consultants continue to attend educational seminars to enhance their already formidable skills in Counter-Terrorism, HazMat Operations, Drug Intervention, and Emergency Response, and have received numerous awards for their outstanding achievements.
At the HazMat Ops level, provides info on emergency response to violent crimes, threats of terrorism, clandestine drug labs, explosives events and crimes involving chemicals. Discussion of tactical operations includes: heavily-armed criminals, booby traps, secondary devices, chemical and explosives. Discusses the factors that make for a successful multi-agency response.
(Key References): WMD/HAZMAT COLLECTION CAPABILITIES & THOUGHTS
Steve Rhea – Senior Hazmat Officer
FBI Laboratory Operational Response
Located at Quantico, VA
About Permits/Hazmat & Lights
Permits/Hazmat & Lights is mainly involved in Federal Government-Police. Permits/Hazmat & Lights operates in Nevada. This business is involved in Federal Government-Police as well as other possible related aspects and functions of Federal Government-Police. In Carson City Nevada Permits/Hazmat & Lights maintains its local business operations and may possibly perform other local business operations outside of Nevada in additional operations related to Federal Government-Police.
(Reference to a False Affidfavit)
FEDERAL PENALTY IS UP TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON
Under federal law, the penalty for perjury by signing a false affidavit is a fine, up to five years in prison, or both. For your statement to constitute perjury, you must intentionally deceive the court by making a statement of fact that you know is false and that could affect the outcome of the proceedings. For example, if you purposely lie on a sworn affidavit during the application process for Social Security Disability benefits, you could face time in prison.
PENALTIES CHANGE WITH CIRCUMSTANCES
States have varying laws about making false affidavits, and the penalties often depend on the circumstances surrounding the crime. For example, in Montana, the penalty for making a false affidavit is a fine of up to $500 and not more than six months in jail, but the fine increases to $5,000 if the affidavit falsely states the contents of a political advertisement are true. Michigan law imposes a jail sentence of up to 15 years when someone who is required by law to swear an oath knowingly falsifies a record, like when a police officer swears to false information on a search warrant affidavit.
What is Tampering with Evidence?
(HAZMAT Endorsement)-Department of Defense
A person commits the crime of tampering with evidence when he or she knowingly:
- alters, conceals, falsifies, or destroys
- any record, document, or tangible object
- with the intent to interfere with an investigation, possible investigation, or other proceeding by the federal government.
(18 U.S.C. § 1519.)
This crime includes making false entries in records or doctoring documents, such as by “cooking the books” of a business to hide illegal activity or avoid taxes or other required payments.
Tampering with evidence also includes destroying or altering documents or things “in contemplation of” an investigation or other proceeding that may occur in the future.