Policy & Procedure Review
Policy is all too often forgotten about by law enforcement administrators until something goes wrong. Only then is there a revision to the then out-of-date procedures. Even worse, changes are usually made in a kneejerk fashion that carry long-lasting negative and unforeseen consequences. This tradition of "the way it's always been done" is a set up for civil liability---not a protection.
The United States Supreme Court has held that law enforcement agencies can be found liable in civil court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983 if the claim is based on the implementation or execution of "a policy statement, ordinance, regulation, or decision officially adopted and promulgated by that party's officers". Additionally, they "may be sued for constitutional deprivations visited pursuant to governmental 'custom' even though such a custom has not received formal approval through the body's official decision making channels". In other words, formal policies and the way things are done matter. A lot. Proper policy and procedure are the first line of defending an officer's actions and limiting liability.
The buzz words of "police reform" are sweeping the country and some legislators have heard the call for change. Laws are now being amended. As far back as 2015, there has been a hard push by the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing to reform use of force policy and other training procedures. The "8 Can't Wait" campaign has raised the stakes even higher. Some agencies have felt the changing tide and others have not. Has enough time passed that those lagging agencies have now exposed themselves to §1983 liability for their "deliberate indifference" in the event of a law suit?
Policy must follow current state statutes and the constitutional case law that is always changing. Accordingly, policy is a living body that cannot be drafted once and put on a shelf until there is a major incident. Policy review and revision should be a regular part of an administration's functions. It is the duty of the administration to take these steps in order to avoid costly litigation and possible civil damages and penalties. If this is not a part of your agency's regular process, CCG can help.
In addition to his legal background and experience, Scott Courrege, J.D., zealously educates himself on changes in the law and policing practices because he is responsible for creating and instructing training in use of force, search and seizure, pursuits and emergency vehicle operations, and tactical operations, which are some of the highest liability areas. Scott can seamlessly apply these changes to existing policy to ensure that your agency has the most up-to-date guidance and procedures.