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    Reducing Liability by Subscribing to the Law Enforcement Legal & Risk Management Update

    The Law Enforcement Risk Management & Legal Update is a new periodical that provides timely updates on the law and trends impacting the law enforcement profession. The focus of this bi-monthly subscription service is the critical tasks that create liability for officers and their agencies. In addition to case summaries the reporter also includes a roll-call training section to be used ...
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    Reasonableness of Handcuffing during a valid “Terry Stop”

    Does handcuffing during a “Terry Stop” transform the stop into a full-blown arrest, which requires the officer to have probable cause rather than the lesser requirement of reasonable suspicion? A case from the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut determined that the application of handcuffs does not automatically turn an otherwise valid “Terry Stop” into a full-blown arrest. ...
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    Reasonable Training And Policy Direction On Handling Of The Mentally Ill And Emotionally Disturbed Persons?

    In Walker v. City of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit gave law enforcement some direction for determining what training officers must be provided with to do their jobs professionally and with lower liability exposure. Essentially the case indicated that if you know to a moral certainty that officers will confront a certain situation; and ...
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    Qualified Immunity in Use of Force CasesUnited States Supreme Court

    An individual officer’s greatest shield in a lawsuit that alleges a violation of civil rights is qualified immunity. A decision by the United States Supreme Court in December, further clarified the strength of this immunity. In Brosseau v.Haugen, 543 U.S.___; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 8275 (2004), the United States Supreme Court examined a case involving the use of deadly force by Officer ...
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    Reasonable Suspicion In School Drug Cases

    In establishing reasonable suspicion to conduct the search of a student, school officials and police officers assigned to schools should provide complete details of the facts which justified their decision to search. A case from the State of Washington provides a good example of the detail which will support such a search. State of Washington v. Huff, 2004 Wash. App. LEXIS ...
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    Property Policies and the Release of FirearmsManaging Risks

    The best way for law enforcement agencies to avoid a lawsuit is to take steps to prevent liability. Not every injury is foreseeable, however as new experiences are observed with resulting lawsuits, steps should be taken to address the potential rather than waiting for the first time it happens to your agency. A survey of agencies has revealed that not many ...
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    Procedural Time Limits In Administrative Investigations - Absolutes

    When you are involved with public employee disciplinary matters and have procedural time limits imposed on your case, failing to meet those time limits will normally result in losing the ability to discipline the employee regardless what the misconduct may be. In essence these limits are essentially a statute of limitations, in other words, bring your discipline within the allotted time ...
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    Probable Cause and Objective Reasonableness U.S. Supreme Court

    In Devenpeck v. Alford, 543 U.S.___, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 8272 (2004), the United States Supreme Court examined a case where officers, with probable cause to arrest a subject, Jerome Alford for impersonating a police officer, instead arrested him for tape recording the officers during the investigatory stop. A previous court decision held that it was not illegal to tape police officers ...
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    Presence of SRO Does Not Invalidate Interrogation

    J.D. v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 2004 Va. App. LEXIS 31 (Va. Ct. App. 2004). Following a clear trend the Court of Appeals of Virginia recently ruled that the presence of a School Resource Officer while a school official conducts an interrogation does not invalidate the interrogation. J.D. was identified as a possible suspect in some thefts occurring at his school. J.D. ...
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    Preparing a Defense in Law Enforcement Litigation: A Formula for Law Enforcement

    Any significant law enforcement event has the potential to develop in a claim made against the agency and the officers involved. The likelihood of a lawsuit is enhanced when individuals involved in the event are injured or claim a violation of their rights at the outset. Depending upon the nature of the event and the public interest involved, the media may ...
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    Positional Asphyxia

    Another aspect of pepper-spray that leads to litigation is deaths resulting from positional asphyxia. Positional asphyxia involves the improper placement of individuals who have violently resisted causing physical exertion and sometimes exacerbated by the effects of pepper-spray which inhibits breathing. Many of these cases also involve the presence of narcotics that increases a suspect’s heart rate as well as other physiological ...
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    Police Officers may be Liable for Failure to Disclose Exculpatory Information under the Brady RuleManaging Risks

    The law with respect to a prosecutor’s duty to disclose exculpatory evidence to a defendant is very clear. The United States Supreme Court made this obligation clear in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1995). This rule has extended to any information which may bear on the credibility of a witness and includes ...
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    Police NOT Liable in Drowning Death of Handcuffed Escapee

    Hermann v. City of Louisville, 114 Fed. Appx. 162 (6th Cir. 2004) involved the death of Louis Hermann following his escape from police while handcuffed. Louis was arrested after being disruptive at a free outdoor concert in Louisville’s City Park, which is adjacent to the Ohio River. Louis had been acting up at the concert and was asked by an officer ...
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    Police Involvement Does Not Always Invalidate Search

    An issue that is often raised in school search cases is the question as to what level of police involvement will require that a search be supported by probable cause rather than the reasonable suspicion standard allowed for school officials. A case on point was decided by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently. In the Interest of A.D., 844 A.2d 20 ...
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    Overview of Police Liability

    While police officers may believe that they will be exposed to liability for all of their actions, both proper and improper, the fact of the matter is that most courts have avoided second-guessing police actions and have only sanctioned the most egregious conduct. There are various levels of liability that may exist when an officer’s actions are deemed improper. The purpose ...
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    Officers not Liable for Excessive Force in Arrest of Paraplegic

    Brant v. Volkert, 72 Fed. Appx. 463 (7th Cir. 2003). Officers are often faced with circumstances involving persons with physical disabilities. As such it is necessary to train officers for such circumstances. Mr. Brant, a paraplegic was stopped by the police while operating a three-wheeled scooter erratically and with no lights. A computer check revealed that Brant’s right to operate the ...
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    Officers May Rely on Information Provided By School Officials

    Many times police officers assigned to schools or police officers that are called to schools must make decisions regarding arrest based upon information provided by school officials. A recent case decided by a federal court in New York reiterated that police officers may rely upon the information provided by school officials in establishing probable cause to arrest. Foy v. City of ...
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    Police Involvement Does Not Always Invalidate Search

    An issue that is often raised in school search cases is the question as to what level of police involvement will require that a search be supported by probable cause rather than the reasonable suspicion standard allowed for school officials. A case on point was decided by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently. In the Interest of A.D., 844 A.2d 20 ...
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    Overview of Police Liability

    While police officers may believe that they will be exposed to liability for all of their actions, both proper and improper, the fact of the matter is that most courts have avoided second-guessing police actions and have only sanctioned the most egregious conduct. There are various levels of liability that may exist when an officer’s actions are deemed improper. The purpose ...
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    Police Officers may be Liable for Failure to Disclose Exculpatory Information under the Brady RuleManaging Risks

    The law with respect to a prosecutor’s duty to disclose exculpatory evidence to a defendant is very clear. The United States Supreme Court made this obligation clear in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and Kyles v. Whitley, 514 U.S. 419 (1995). This rule has extended to any information which may bear on the credibility of a witness and includes ...
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