Since 1972, sixteen states have adopted the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill Of Rights (LEOBR) and incorporated it into their state law. Maryland was the first. Missouri now has House Bill 1889, an update to House Bill 928, which originated the state’s entry into passing this legislation in support of law enforcement. The bill has not yet been passed.
This “bill of rights” is intended to protect law enforcement from conduct-related prosecution and investigation during the normal course of their job. The “bill of rights” also offers law enforcement officers additional due process privileges that are greater than the citizens they serve. Departments are not prevented from conducting drug testing on an officer.
How It Works
Because of the dangerous nature of the job, police aren’t questioned in the same way as an ordinary citizen suspect would be. The idea is to provide police with some protection should their conduct be called into question.A police officer can be questioned as they would with their own suspects, but under different conditions. The bill offers some protections for false allegations that are levied against a police officer. It also offers a full due process hearing to any officer whose status has changed and suffers an economic loss—suspended without pay, terminated, transferred, etc.Unlike a standard arrest, police are not questioned immediately. This period varies from state to state. There are specific guidelines for these interrogations, including:
- An officer can request a meeting in writing 48 hours before a suspension, termination, or other disciplinary action that results in salary or time being withheld.
- The meeting is held before the governing body as indicated by the department.
- The officer is notified of the investigation, including the nature of the violation, the individuals making the allegations and their testimony before questioning.
- The officer can only be questioned for a “reasonable length of time,” by a single investigator during working hours at a secure location or where he or she normally reports working.
- A complainant is required to provide a sworn affidavit. False allegations or information can be referred for prosecution
- An officer can have legal representation and is afforded a 48-hour period to acquire counsel.
- Officers cannot be disciplined, terminated, or given other status that results in an “economic loss” as a result of asserting their constitutional rights.
- The agency employing the officer provides the officer with written transcripts of the meeting.
The Fraternal Order Of Police has a more thorough explanation of LEOBR on its website.
Defenses Against Police Misconduct
The LEOBR is designed to protect police during the course of doing their job and promote accountability. But many are concerned that the protection comes at the expense of civilians. In fact, many activists have called for the removal of the LEOBR as part of police reform.When a citizen is the victim of police brutality or misconduct, you do have recourse. An experienced Kansas City civil rights attorney can help you understand the different options, such as:
- Filing an Internal Affairs complaint against the officer in question
- Filing a lawsuit in civil court for monetary damages
- Seeking criminal charges against the officer or officers in question
- Filing an additional lawsuit, known as a “Section 1983” suit, A “Section 1983” lawsuit, called so for the part of the US code (42 U.S.C. §1983) for civil action for the deprivation of civil rights. You can request compensation (monetary damages) as well as injunctive relief.
If you decide to pursue a claim against a police officer or police department, it’s important to have as much evidence as you can find. Pictures, documents, and damaged property should be kept in a safe place to present to your attorney as part of your case’s investigation.
Tom Porto Is Popham’s Own Civil Rights Attorney For Police Brutality In Kansas City
At The Popham Law Firm in Kansas City, Tom Porto represents people who have suffered injuries as the result of police brutality and in-custody abuse. Tom has a record of success in these areas. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries during the course of an arrest or incarceration, we will fight to help you obtain the compensation, justice, and dignity you deserve. Please contact Tom today at (816) 221-2288.