Philadelphia Police Misconduct Lawyers: Alabama Police Brutality Bill May Sway Justice Reform in PennsylvaniaMay 30, 2017
Across the nation, criminal justice reform bills are common. Most are in response to rising police brutality and misconduct. The Alabama state legislature recently passed a bill that has the potential to influence states such as Pennsylvania.
The bill provides two key elements intended to curb law enforcement brutality. The first is a requirement calling for established procedures when investigating allegations of police misconduct and the second promotes compensation to victims. Opponents of the bill argue that it is not necessary because Alabama already has an open policy regarding disciplinary records involving law enforcement.
Pennsylvania Police Disciplinary Records are Not Public
One of the notable elements of transparent government is seen in how police disciplinary records are treated in America. Alabama is one of only 12 states wherein police misconduct becomes part of the public record. Fifteen states offer limited access and the remaining 23 states, including Pennsylvania, do not allow public access to these records.
When a situation involves police misconduct in Pennsylvania, the records must be subpoenaed. Even then, records are maintained in several databases each requiring a separate subpoena. The top five records needed in most police brutality cases include:
- Personnel files
- Board of inquiry disciplinary records
- Use-of-force files
- IAD complaint records
- Officer history records
However, to move ahead with legal proceedings against guilty law enforcement, there often needs to be a proverbial smoking gun; videos are great, but not usually available. The defendant may have injuries and an attorney can obtain 911 and police dispatch records, but a common practice among law enforcement is to create so-called cover charges. Cover charges are trumped up charges designed to make the victim appear to have committed a crime that necessitated the use-of-force. Without official records, getting a judge to agree to opening the records may be difficult. Although a catch-22 situation, getting the records is possible for a skilled attorney.
A bill in Pennsylvania like the one in Alabama would allow open disclosure of internal investigations related to the misconduct. Such a bill would help those abused at the hands of law enforcement receive proper and swift justice, which is the presumed purpose of the criminal justice system.
More than that, such a law in Pennsylvania would help stem the growing tide of police brutality cases. When police and the departments they represent are held accountable, positive changes result. Hopefully, the Alabama bill will set a positive precedent in Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia Police Misconduct Lawyers at Patrick G. Geckle LLC Fight for the Rights of Victims of Police Brutality.
Although the state of Pennsylvania makes it difficult to prosecute official abuse, the Philadelphia police misconduct lawyers at Patrick G. Geckle LLC fight to secure justice for victims. If you or someone you know has been the victim of any form of police misconduct including planted evidence, an illegal strip search, denial of medical attention after an arrest, unwarranted use of force, or any other abuse, we have the experience to hold those accountable to task. You have a right to compensation.
From our Philadelphia office, we help clients from central and eastern Pennsylvania including Berks County, Bucks County, Carbon County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lackawanna County, Lancaster County, Lawrence County, Lehigh County, Luzerne County, Montgomery County, and Monroe County. To arrange a free consultation, call 215-735-3326 now or complete our online form.