Police officers must do more than enforce the law. They must follow it. Law enforcement officials who engage in abusive behavior could face disciplinary actions and civil and possibly criminal complaints. The public likely realizes that some police officers might engage in unlawful or unconstitutional behavior, but few may realize the scope. In New Jersey alone, nearly 400 police officers faced disciplinary actions in a single year.
New Jersey’s police problem
The disciplinary actions that 389 law enforcement officers faced in 2021 did not involve minor infractions. Reports indicate the violations were major, raising concerns among activists worried about police brutality. Also troubling would be the subsequent disciplinary actions, which usually involved suspensions and demotions. Firings were not as common, raising questions about repeat offenses. In 2021, at least 20 officers committed repeat offenses.
Problems with police misconduct are not new. However, the public might finally start to learn about the pervasiveness, thanks to an Attorney General’s Office directive. The directive enhances public reporting and awareness. The report shows officers faced disciplinary action for drunk driving, domestic violence, and more.
Civil actions and police brutality
A police officer may need to use justifiable force to perform an arrest. However, violent behavior could far exceed a reasonable amount of force. Kicking a handcuffed suspect would surely rise to the level of excessive brutality. Such illegal behavior could also involve denying someone medical care or failing to care for a suspect’s well-being.
Victims of police brutality may explore civil actions to receive compensation for their injuries and other losses. The same might be true when the victim experiences emotional problems and requires psychological counseling.