Police misconduct refers to immoral or illegal actions taken by the police that often interfere with their role as upholders of justice. There are many different types of police misconduct, but they all have the potential to affect the proper execution of the law. What constitutes police misconduct is determined by the rules that govern the police in a certain area, and these rules are most often explicit and known to many citizens. In many cases, misconduct by police officers is taken very seriously because, in order for the police force to be effective, it must be trusted. Sometimes officers work to protect one another with a code of silence, making it difficult to prosecute offenders.
Most police misconduct is identified when someone who has been directly wronged by the police files a complaint. These cases can include use of excessive force, intimidation, or even sexual harassment. In some situations, a police officer who is off duty can use his or her status as a police officer in inappropriate ways. Sometimes when a person stands up for his or her rights in the face of a police officer, the officer may take it as a sign of disrespect and brutalize the civilian. Police misconduct can occur for any number of reasons, but any violation of the police code of conduct is serious.
Sometimes police misconduct is more complex and involves fabricating evidence or confessions. These actions may not directly cause a person injury, but they do often result in a miscarriage of justice. While it is certainly possible that a police officer might interfere with justice vengefully, it is much more common that the officer feels that he or she needs to make sure that the correct person ends up being punished. Even though this kind of misconduct is guided by a pursuit of justice, it is still highly unjust.
The biggest problem with police misconduct is not defining misconduct but identifying it with evidence. To protect both officers and civilians, many police units now use video and audio recording devices during interactions between these two groups. These recordings can be used as evidence for either side should a question of misconduct arise, and it is possible that the absence of a recording may be used as evidence if a recording would normally be expected. Given the respected position of the police in many areas, people who are victims of police misconduct often feel that they have no options when it comes to reporting the incident. It is still, however, very important that everyone is subject to the same laws, police officer or not.