mission is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths due to
June 4, 2002
Broken Bonds of Trust Police Abuse and Misconduct
Human interactions depend upon a basic level of trust. When we
leave our homes each day and go out into the world, we trust that other drivers will obey the traffic laws, we trust that other citizens will
fulfill their responsibilities as members of a civil society, and we trust that help will be provided to us should we require it.
When this trust is
violated, we can become paralyzed with fear, and in extreme cases, suffer injuries, and even, death. In too many places in the United States
and around the globe today, people are struggling with this violation of
trust and safety.
The Trauma Foundation believes that a there should be independent oversight committees charged with monitoring the police and holding the agencies and personnel accountable for police misconduct, abuse, and brutality of all sorts.
What You Can Do!
State, federal and local authorities should ensure that abuses including torture, brutality and other excessive force by police officers will not be tolerated; that officers will be held accountable for their actions; and that those responsible for abuses will be brought to justice. International human rights standards on the use of force and firearms, and on the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment and discriminatory treatment, should be fully incorporated into police codes of conduct and training and strictly enforced.
The Administration should seek, and Congress provide, adequate funding to allow the Justice Department to fulfill its mandate under the Police Accountability Act provisions of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to compile, publish and regularly
analyze national data on police use of excessive force (including all fatal shootings and deaths in custody).
Adequate resources should also be provided to allow the Justice Department to continue to pursue "pattern
Funding should be provided to enable US Attorneys in jurisdictions throughout the USA to increase investigations and prosecutions of police officers suspected of violating federal criminal civil rights violations.
Police departments should be required to keep detailed records on the use of force and to report publicly at regular intervals, providing statistical data on shootings and other use of force, in-custody deaths and injuries. They should also provide data on the number and type of complaints filed, and on their disposition and outcome.
The federal government should increase its use of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to seek to eliminate racially discriminatory practices by law enforcement agencies. The Administration should actively support passage of the Traffic Stops Statistics Act of 1999, in order that the extent of racial and ethnic profiling in police traffic stops can be comprehensively and systematically evaluated. Meanwhile, all states and local agencies should follow the lead taken by some US police departments by voluntarily setting up their own monitoring systems.
All police departments should introduce training programs designed to minimize the risk of unnecessary force and death or injury in certain common situations, including vehicle pursuits and coping with mentally ill or disturbed individuals. Training programs should also include gender issues and sensitivity to minority groups.
All police departments should ban dangerous restraint procedures such as hogtying and chokeholds.
The federal authorities should establish an independent, national inquiry into the use of OC (pepper) spray by law enforcement agencies, including a review of all deaths and injuries reported after use of the spray. Meanwhile, police departments which continue to authorize the spray should introduce strict guidelines and limitations on its use, with clear reporting and monitoring procedures.
Law enforcement and correctional agencies should ban the use of remote control electro-shock stun belts and suspend the use of all other electro-shock weapons pending the outcome of a rigorous independent inquiry into the use and effects of such equipment.
All police authorities should ensure that police canine policies conform to best practice and are designed to minimize the risk of unnecessary force and injury.
All police departments should establish early warning systems to identify and deal with officers involved in human rights violations. They should establish clear reporting systems and keep detailed records in order to identify, and take remedial action in respect of, any patterns of abuse, including racial bias or other discriminatory treatment.
There should be greater transparency in the investigation of complaints of human rights violations. Complainants should be kept regularly informed of the progress of investigations. The outcome of all criminal, disciplinary and administrative investigations into alleged violations, and into all disputed shootings and deaths in custody, should be made public promptly after completion of the investigation.
State, local and federal authorities should establish effective, independent oversight bodies for their respective police agencies, with powers to investigate and review complaints against the police as well as broader policy issues and patterns of concern, and to issue detailed public reports.