Salem, OR – Police are supposed to follow rules of conduct and procedures while they are on the job like every other occupation. There are certain mechanisms in place to investigate police misconduct and discipline officers if the allegations are sustained. However, this process does not always work as well as it should due to corruption and bias within police departments and the cities that hire them. A civil lawsuit is often the best way for victims of misconduct and police brutality to make the officers answer for their actions. 

Internal affairs

There is a separate division in most police departments called internal affairs. These divisions staffed are employees who work with law enforcement and investigate complaints about various illegal activities and misconduct by their officers. Internal affairs is also given the authority to recommend that officers be suspended or terminated from their positions if the allegations are serious and true. In severe cases, the department can even recommend the case to a prosecutor and the officer will face criminal charges

Despite the way these control mechanisms against misconduct are supposed to work in theory, the practical results are often very different. Officers rarely receive severe punishments or lose their jobs, even when there is credible evidence of misconduct. It is also common for internal affairs to hand down very minor punishments, such as short periods or administrative or desk duty. There have been a number of incidents where officers who beat or killed suspects were found to have a large number of internal affairs complaints over the course of years, yet they still retained their jobs. Most internal affairs divisions seem reluctant to take action against their own officers, even when such action is warranted. 

For these reasons, a victim is usually best served by getting their own lawyer and suing the officer directly. 

Bringing a lawsuit

Anyone who is a victim of police brutality has the right to bring a civil case that says the officer abused their authority while working in their official capacity. There are various civil rights laws that prevent illegal and abusive behavior from anyone who works in a government position. If the victim is successful, they may receive compensation for medical treatment, lost wages and income, emotional pain and suffering, and any other problems that were caused by police misconduct. In cases where the officer’s guilt is clear, the department may decide to settle the case without going through a trial. 

Finding a local lawyer to help with a police brutality case contains listings of lawyers in Salem and every other city in the United States. Anyone who needs help from an attorney can choose their location and a relevant practice area to schedule a consultation.