An overview of police misconduct

Most police officers and other law enforcement agents are acting within the best interests of the people they serve and protect. For those who are victims of police misconduct, however, this may not seem like the case. Common examples of police misconduct include: 

  • False arrest and imprisonment 
  • Falsifying or tampering with evidence 
  • Brutality or excessive use of force 
  • Perjury 
  • Corruption 
  • Unwarranted search and seizure 

Police misconduct often manifests itself in the form of a hate crime. As defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, prejudice based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender and gender identity or sexual orientation is the motivation behind most hate crimes. 

Certain institutions investigate cases of police misconduct. The FBI itself handles many cases. Also, most law enforcement agencies have an internal affairs department to investigate alleged misconduct from within. 

The blue code of silence 

Within the police force, there is an informal code of conduct known as the blue code of silence, the blue shield or the blue curtain. It is an unofficial, often unspoken, rule that officers do not report on the misconduct of their fellow officers. On the surface, this may sound like an honorable bond of loyalty between the brothers and sisters of law enforcement. However, it more often leads to police perjury and corruption and can be a gross breach of integrity and ethics. 

Citizens who feel an officer of the law violated their rights can report the incident to the Department of Justice. The DOJ website provides the public with information to contact the appropriate authority for either criminal or civil enforcement.