It is important for those who have an interest in the criminal justice system or in law enforcement to learn about some of the challenges working in a litigious society can create. Criminal justice agencies have developed methods to reduce the chances of incurring lawsuits against their officers and departments. You will glean valuable insight and learn how to begin developing clear, concise, and substantive communication necessary for criminal justice and law enforcement officers.
In this LASA, you will create a 15–20 slide PowerPoint presentation and write your script from the perspective of one of the following roles in Centervale: an internal affairs investigator, compliance officer, or similar official seeking to mitigate and improve the department by reducing the number of legal actions filed against the department. You have been asked to do this presentation in response to the following scenario:
It is common to see groups of youths hanging around various locations in Centervale. A group of mischievous juveniles hang out at a 24 hour Burger Joint on Tenth Street on a fairly regular basis and often get into Saturday night scuffles with other groups of juveniles, which require the police to respond to clear the area. The owner of the Burger Joint has become increasingly concerned about a drastic decrease in sales; however, he continued to look the other way until the scuffles escalated into full-blown fights that involved weapons, such as knives or brass knuckles.
Recently, the owner of the Burger Joint called 911 in a panic because he thought he heard gunshots fired from the parking lot area during a scuffle. Officers from the Centervale Police Department (CPD) arrived on the scene to find several youths involved in a physical fight provoked by a verbal attack, but there were no visible signs of weapons. Officer Jack Newbie just completed Taser training at the Centervale Police Academy. Officer Newbie believes carrying a “non-lethal” alternative to a firearm is beneficial for law enforcement officers.
Officer Newbie and his partner proceeded with caution when attempting to break-up the fight at the Burger Joint because reports of weapons involvement can create very dangerous situations for officers as they approach. Sam White, 15 years old, who was not actively involved in the physical aspect of the scuffle, tried to flee from the scene. Officer Newbie did not give verbal commands before firing his Taser at White as he fled. The Taser’s 50,000-volt of electric shock caused White to go into cardiac arrest upon impact, but he was revived on the way to Centervale Memorial hospital. White’s girlfriend, Rosey Green, a small-framed female, who was visibly showing signs of pregnancy, was distraught and angry over White’s condition. Green jumped onto Officer Newbie’s back, bit him on the neck and punched him in the ear. Officer Newbie’s partner, Officer Joe Flash, Tased Green during the assault. Later that evening Green had a miscarriage and lost her baby. Green and her parents are now suing the CPD for use of excessive force against a minor.
The information from your Power Point Presentation will be used by the CPD to add or change policies and to make high-level executive polices to reduce lawsuits.
The following information must be included in your presentation:
- Based on your research of the history and your research of issues surrounding liability in policing today, did Officer Newbie’s handling of the situation with White and Green create a liability or potential lawsuit situation for the CPD? Evaluate how the use of force was applied in this situation with regard to White’s attempt to flee the scene and Green’s physical assault of Officer Newbie and suggest a new policy based on your evaluation in your presentation.
- The CPD’s current use-of-force policy states that the amount of force any officer may use against any individual may be one degree greater than the amount of force being applied by any individual against any officer. Compare and contrast CPD’s use-of-force policy with the facts of the Green Case. In your presentation, explain how Green’s behavior, the facts of the case (i.e., dispatch: fight with weapons), and Officer Newbie’s response align or misalign with the terms of the policy.
- Create a mitigation action plan (MAP) that contains three recommendations supported by the findings of current empirical research that might help to reduce the number of lawsuits that could be potentially filed against the CPD.
- Does the definition of a frivolous lawsuit apply to the situation with Officer Newbie and his handling of the White Case? Analyze and discuss how a potential lawsuit filed by White against the CPD might be perceived by the court and how the CPD might mediate or litigate a lawsuit of this nature.