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Police Negligence Examples

Being negligent means that a person does not practice the amount of care necessary to protect the interests of others, as specified by the law.  Another way to state this is to say that a person fails to take proper action to prevent something from harming themselves or another.  But while this is common with the public, there are also instances where the police are guilty of committing this crime.

Here are some possible examples of police negligence:

  • A police officer is off-duty, sitting in a bar and drinking with some friends.  The officer witnesses one of his friends consuming a number of drinks who then decides to go home.  The officer questions whether his friend is sober enough, but does nothing to verify whether or not he is intoxicated.  The friend gets into a car accident on the way home and kills another driver. The officer should have detained his friend.
  • Police pull over a car after witnessing the driver swerving on the road and failing to maintain their lane.  Suspecting that the driver is driving under the influence, a police officer pulls them over and witnesses slurred speech and difficulty standing during questioning.  The officer has the suspect blow into a breathalyzer, which registers well above the legal limit.  The suspect is arrested and taken to jail.  Later it is discovered that the breathalyzer has not been properly calibrated, therefore the results were not considered to be accurate.  The police failed to properly maintain their equipment.
  • Police respond to a 911 call concerning a burglary.  Two suspects are apprehended leaving a neighboring house with stolen merchandise.  Police return to the house that issued the 911 call so the suspects can be identified, but the homeowner has left.  Police take them in for questioning, but they are later released.  Later, the suspects return to the caller’s home and vandalize it.  In this case, the police should have detained the suspects and offered a police line-up at the station.
  • Officers respond to a armed robbery call.  They see a suspect who is known for carrying concealed weapons outside the store.  Police draw their weapons and yell for the man to freeze. He puts his empty hands in the air and turns quickly to face the officers, yelling insults.  One officer shoots him.  The police should have realized that even though he has a history of carrying weapons he was not armed at the time and his hands were visible.

Police officers are sworn to uphold the law, but they are human and can also make mistakes.  Police are held responsible for their actions, the same as private citizens.  When a police officer, or a police station, is found to be negligent, they face penalties for their actions, too.  Police officers found guilty of negligence can be suspended, fined or even go to jail, depending on the severity of the case.  In many instances, once negligence has been established without a doubt, the suspect will sue the police station, the city, county, or state that governs the police officer.

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