What is police misconduct in Florida?
Police misconduct and corruption is defined as a violation of state and in some cases federal laws or the violation of a person’s rights by a law enforcement officer. It may also occur when police officers commit crimes for their own personal gain, such as stealing confiscated money during a drug bust. These acts all occur while police officers are working in their official capacity. Police misconduct has often lead to discrimination and a miscarriage of justice in states all across America. The Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Palm Beach, Law Firm of Berman & Tsombanakis LLC has experience handling cases involving police misconduct.
In Florida, like many other states, there have been gut wrenching cases involving police misconduct. Some examples of police misconduct and corruption are false confession, false arrest, falsified evidence, false imprisonment, intimidation, police brutality, murder, police corruption, political repression, racial profiling, sexual abuse, surveillance abuse and off-duty misconduct. Other examples include, use of drugs, both on and off duty. As well as the use of selected enforcement of laws by police officers and lying under oath. Selective enforcement of laws is used when officers use their power to not arrest family member, friends or other individuals because of their relationship to them or a fellow officer.
Procedural, Criminal and Civil Violations
Police misconduct cases can be procedural, criminal and/or civil violations. Procedural violations typically involve officers violating in house rules, that is, the rules and regulations that govern that officer’s police department. Criminal violations are when the officer violates the law of the land at both the state and/or federal levels. Lastly, civil violations occur when an officer violates an individuals civil rights. For example, violations such as these are common in cases involving excessive force, as well as cases where a person is stopped while driving lawfully because of the color of their skin.
Federal Criminal & Civil Investigations
In major cities such as, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New Orleans, there always seems to be some type of federal investigation involving law enforcement officers. From corrupt cases involving drug smuggling, to cover ups concerning the quick firing of guns by police officers. Most recently in 2011, the City of Miami Police Department was investigated for the killings of at least seven young black men during an eight month period at the hands of police officers. Most of the crimes occurred in the Liberty City section of Miami. The community and families of the victims fought hard for the federal investigation and held many marches and rallies against such crimes. Some of the lawsuits are still pending, however the federal investigation against the City of Miami Police Department found that their was no system wide violations by the Police Department.
There are very similar scenarios involving killings by police officers s in other cities across the United States and especially in Chicago. Chicago has an alarming number of murders that occur mainly on the city’s southside, involving young black men at the hands of young black men. Many feel that the murders and other crimes have caused the police to over react and thus have lead to an increase in police involve shooting. Many on the other side, have argued that the police shootings were justified and that something must be done to curtail the crime rate in Chicago.
As mentioned above, there have been many cases over the years involving the unlawful arrest of young men. Young men of many different backgrounds, races, colors, and creeds have been pulled over because of the car that they were driving and the neighborhoods that they were driving in. Some of these cases have resulted in the young men being beaten. In many cases, the young men are often charged with crimes such as resisting officer with or without violence. This occurs many times, when the officer was indeed the aggressor and had no legal basis to stop the vehicle and/or charge the person with a crime. Some police have been know to go as far as “planting” evidence in the car or on the individual while making this unlawful encounter. This is also a form of corruption, which is discussed below.
Corruption involves profiting from a crime or another type of benefit from said crime, such as bribery or extortion. Many officers for centuries have been accused of being involved in cover ups and are known for taking money “off of the top” during drug stings or other investigations. Many mob movies reflect such actions on behalf of police officers. Corruption cases were very popular during the early 20th century during the prohibition time period and continued during segregation-integration time period and well into the 1970s-1980s when heroine, cocaine and crack cocaine infiltrated this country.
Corruption cases and the movies that portray them, cause many individuals to not trust police officers and has caused a break down especially in the inner city areas across America. Police department everywhere are very active in the community and invoke numerous programs to help build back up the trust in these communities. Police departments have internal affairs departments, which are in place to help deter such conduct on behalf of the police officers.
Violation of Civil Rights by Police Officers
In closing, Laws were put in place in the late 19th century to protect individuals from having their civil rights violated by police officers. During this time, many officers had links to the Ku Klux Klan and other groups that were involved in an unlawful activities. In order to protect the citizens, many laws were enacted at the Federal level because many states and especially states in the south refused to enact or enforce said laws. Even with these laws, there are violations daily by police officers against innocent citizens. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, also protects individuals from discrimination, it prohibits laws pertaining to racial slurs and unjustified arrest. These laws only allow for the federal government to bring these types of lawsuits against the officers, not an individual.
The statute of limitations for civil rights cases involving police misconduct is four years in Florida. An individual filing suit against a police officer, may find the process to be difficult and costly. These types of cases will more than likely need lots of dedication on behalf of the individual, family members and lawyers involved. With proper representation and an understanding of said process, one may be successful. If you or a family member has been a victim of police misconduct, please email or call one of the lawyers at the Fort Lauderdale Law Firm of Berman & Tsombanakis LLC. at (954) 764-6099 or (954) 728-8885. We provide free consultations and can meet you at our office in downtown Fort Lauderdale or at your residence or any other convenient location. We utilize all resources available to insure that you or your family members are fully compensated for your injuries.