top of page
_16N0035_edited.jpg

Do police pay attention to lawsuits brought against them?

This is a question I've been thinking about, on and off, for the past fifteen years. In a couple articles I published in 2010 and 2012, I found, in short, that most police departments do not investigate allegations in lawsuits brought against them as they would citizen complaints, and do not review information unearthed during litigation for when investigating officers' wrongdoing or supervising officers more generally. I also found that when departments did review lawsuits, they learned valuable things--many misconduct allegations are not separately alleged as citizen complaints, and the information that comes out in discovery is fuller than that unearthed in internal affairs investigations.


For another project, I've gone back to look at practices of the same group of jurisdictions I previously studied and found the landscape appears much as it did in 2010. Of the twenty-six jurisdictions I studied in 2010, I was able to gather updated information about nineteen. Nine of those nineteen jurisdictions report investigating lawsuit allegations and/or reviewing closed litigation files, although I have found no evidence that these practices are actually being followed. In four jurisdictions, the police department is being pushed to institute policies to investigate allegations in lawsuits and review litigation files, but those practices are not yet being followed. The remaining six jurisdictions report that they do not typically investigate allegations of misconduct made in lawsuits unless they were separately filed as citizen complaints or reported by police officers, nor do they review depositions and other litigation data for lessons.


Below is a link to the spreadsheet as it currently stands. Please feel free to let me know if you know any additional relevant information about these jurisdictions, or about the jurisdictions that have yet to answer--Boise, Buffalo, New Jersey State Police, Prince George's County, Steubenville, and Villa Rica.


Appendix 26 jurisdictions 6.27.24
.pdf
Download PDF • 199KB



bottom of page