Police Brutality in the form of sexual assault/harassment has increased and sounded alarms all over the United States regarding perverse policing activities that have led to settlements for damages costing departments millions of dollars. In recent years, a settlement in Birmingham Alabama paid out 10-milllion dollars in damages to a victim of police brutality for sexual assault by Officer Harry E. Miller, Jr., who had a history of abusing his position as a Birmingham police officer with multiple complaints of sexual harassment for coercion to grant sexual favors, leading to multiple suspensions. He was not fired until two months after he assaulted Mrs. Collins. The Department has a long and dirty history of allegations for sexual misconduct between officers, in the community and in correctional facility venues. Sexual harassment is a clear abuse of power.
If a police officer has engaged in sexual harassment or abuse, under the guise of their professional employment, it is a form of police brutality where civil and criminal legal action may be brought against that officer. Law enforcement officers are given broad power through the badge, to protect people and enforce the law but those who are sexual predators tend to target the general public through acts of police brutality. Officers can lose their badges and become decertified through these sexual offenses, including child pornography, and consensual, but prohibited, on-duty intercourse. At the present time it is difficult to track the problem
Currently, there is no formal national database to track and determine how widespread the problem is in law enforcement, however the Associated Press investigated these types of charges at police departments in the United States to glean a formal data set to support its claims. They found that when officers are under investigation or found guilty of these types of charges, they are often de-certified in that location. Alabama is a state where de-certification occurs by the State’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission and requires law enforcement agencies to report any officer arrest. Unfortunately, not all states have this process, nor do they keep records where data can be easily accessed so a police officer may become decertified in one state and move on to another department in another state without the new employer’s awareness of past negative interactions on the job.
Complaint Dynamics. If you are concerned about making a complaint at the Birmingham Police Department because that is where the abusive officer works, you may also contact the Department of Justice for your district and see if you can file a complaint there and copy the Birmingham Police Department or have them forwarded your formal complaint. You need to:
- Complete a written complaint and keep a copy of it. If you mail it in, do so via certified mail with proof of receipt.
- Outline the sexual misconduct allegation and request a formal investigation because the officer has deviated from department policy, and broken state and federal laws.
- Make the complaint as soon as, or close to the time the incident occurred keeping in mind that your details are sharper at this point.
- In the sexual assault allegation, if you are aware of any type of pattern by the officer, outline it here so the interaction will be understood as a severe problem that should have some negative professional repercussions.
- If there are witnesses to the offense, make sure their account of the incident does not go against yours.
- If there is evidence to your complaint, like photos of bruises or cuts you sustained due to attack, or body fluids that can be collected if you see a doctor right away to document your injuries from the assault.
- You could send copies to the supervising officer of the abuser, the police chief and the department of internal affairs to make sure the situation does not go unnoticed.
- Try to get a police complaint form from the department website or by having someone go and pick it up. If you need to go yourself and do not want to cause a difficult situation for yourself, take someone with you so you have another set of eyes and ears to make sure you follow directions you may be given with regard to properly filling out the complaint form.
- Sexual harassment is serious police misconduct and violates federal and state laws, polices, procedures, rules and regulations of the department and can result in formal disciplinary action including being fired.
Actions After Filing Complaint. After you have submitted the complaint the steps that will follow include:
- Intake by superior to receive complaint.
- Informal investigation as to the particular laid out in the complaint.
- Formal investigation if enough evidence is found in the informal process, involving more internal and external overseeing departments.
- Commencement of civil or criminal suit.
- Mediation toward some type of settlement.
- Remedy to the situation.
Legal Recourse. There are various federal and state laws including the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act, Title 42 United States Code, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Alabama State Code to name a few, that insure remedy to individuals who have suffered the negative effects of police brutality through sexual assault/harassment. If you feel you have been a victim of excessive force by a police officer in the Birmingham Alabama area, you should seek professional legal assistance to file a claim and have them review your case to see if you can sue for damages. Damages may include hospital/medical expenses; past and future permanent disability payments; emotional distress including depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; physical pain and suffering; and loss of love and companionship due to a death or serious injury caused by police brutality through excessive force.