What is Police Misconduct

  • Brian A. Maule
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Criminology book series (BRIEFSCRIMINOL)


By its very nature, policing in general is a complex and unique occupation (Macdonald, Manz, Alpert, & Dunham, 2003). In the U.S. the characteristics of public accountability, openness to evaluation and responsiveness to citizen demands (Bayley, 1998) contribute to the inimitable nature of policing in that police officers, in interpreting and applying static and dynamic rules, are legally permitted to act in ways, such as using deadly force, that would be criminal if committed by a civilian (Macdonald et al., 2003). Specifically, while the use of excessive force violates the Fourth Amendment (Graham v. Connor, 1989) excessiveness is determined not only by the totality of the circumstances facing the police officer (Flournoy v. City of Chicago, 2016) but must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable police officer on the scene rather than a 20/20 vision of hindsight (Graham v. Connor, 1989). Thus, arguably excessiveness is profession-specific in that any force even deadly force is reasonable and legal if given the circumstances present a reasonable police officer (not a reasonable person) would have used the same degree of force. Furthermore, by working in isolation from public observation, police officers are provided with ample opportunities to misuse their authority (Dunningham & Norris, 1998; Escholz & Vaughn, 2001; Moran, 2005) in what some have argued is an occupation conducive to misconduct (Hunter, 1999; Ivkovic, 2004).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian A. Maule
    • 1
  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew YorkUSA

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