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Law Enforcement Civil Liability Under Federal Law and Attitudes on Civil Liability: A Survey of University, Municipal and State Police Officers

NCJ Number
Police Studies Volume: 18 Issue: 3 & 4 Dated: (1995) Pages: 19-37
A H Garrison
Date Published
19 pages
Because the advent of civil suits against police officers during the past two decades has caused concern that the possible threat of civil liability may negatively impact police work, 50 police officers from a State police agency, a municipal police department, and a university police department were surveyed to discover if the threat of civil liability played a role in the daily performance of their duties.
The survey contained true-false questions and questions on a Likert seven-point scale, and questions were designed to ascertain particular attitudes. As a group, police officers did not think about being sued on a daily basis and viewed the threat of civil liability as a deterrent to police misconduct. State police officers were the least supportive of citizens being able to sue police officers, while municipal police officers were the most supportive of such lawsuits. University police officers showed less support for civil lawsuits than municipal police officers but agreed such lawsuits had a deterrent effect on police misconduct. Police officers were almost evenly divided on the issue of whether civil liability was an impediment to effective law enforcement. A review of Federal civil liability law is included. Responses from State, municipal, and university police officers are appended. 29 references


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