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Law enforcement officers face delicate situations on a daily basis These situations require immediate and appropriate responses from these officers Police exercise a great amount of discretion Misuse of discretion can lead to society questioning police tactics and policies How do we judge what the appropriate responses in these situations are Who is to say that the discretion police use is appropriate in any given situation Police are confronted with enormous pressures Many well publicized incidents of police brutality in the media in the past few years have left many citizens wondering if this behavior is a typical behavior of law enforcement officers everywhere Police can be held accountable for the actions they take under law Lawsuits can be filed against police in either federal or state courts Civil Liability The most common approach taken by those suing police officers for misconduct is under federal law Most claim that one of their constitutional rights has been violated Civil lawsuits are used most commonly although criminal sanctions are also available This is in part because grand juries and prosecutors tend to be reluctant to file criminal charges against police officers There are several statutes that allow citizens to file actions against police The most common is under what is commonly referred to as Section 1983 lawsuits Section 1983 refers to the Title 42 of the US Code Civil Rights Act It states that Every person who under color of any statute ordinance regulation custom or usage of any 1 subjects or causes to be subjected any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law suit in equity or other proper proceeding for redress Smith 41 In other words this gives us as citizens the right to file
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