Civil Liability and the Response of Police Officers: The Effect of Lawsuits on Police Discretionary Actions
Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Josephine N. Moffett
The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a relationship between police discretion in carrying out arrests and the fear of retaliation litigation. Quantitative methods were used to examine the concerns of 88 police officers and first-line supervisors regarding civil litigation and the impact these concerns have on the discharge of their duties. The results indicate that the police officers in the study were not significantly concerned with the deterrent effects of lawsuits on their arrest activity, but there was a difference between the opinions of the police officers and their superiors regarding civil liability. A significant finding was that almost half of the respondents indicated they possessed a bachelor’s degree, but over one third of the respondents indicated they had never received any formal training in civil liability. The study recommends strengthening the training curriculum in civil liability for all police academy attendees and through proper policy development and effective training programs through in-service activities for veteran police officers. In addition, employing risk managers in police agencies would allow for a systematic review of liability issues facing the agencies and the ability to mitigate those issues. Recommendation for future study would be to determine the current level of support for lawsuits by police officers and superiors, given the ever-changing environment in which policing occurs. Also recommended for future study would be to correlate between years on the job and how the concern of lawsuits changes respondents’ arrest decisions over time.
Chiarlitti, Anthony P., "Civil Liability and the Response of Police Officers: The Effect of Lawsuits on Police Discretionary Actions" (2016). Education Doctoral. Paper 262.
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