Powered by ProofFactor - Social Proof Notifications

Prosecution Disparities Between Law Enforcement Officers and Civilians

Jul 25, 2023 | 0 comments

Jul 25, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

Is there a difference in the prosecution of law by prosecutors on law enforcement officers’ versus civilians for the killing of another

Introduction to literature review

This literature review explores the processes that police officers expect and go through during prosecution for the murder or death of a civilian. The focus of the literature review is to identify and determine whether there are differences in the treatment of the officers as per the structure and system presented in the national forum. The first theme analyzed is that of the arrest of study found that most cases of suspected child abuse, in fact he indicates at least 68% of the cases are never reported or adequately followed up. police officers involved in the death of others. control and prevent conducts that are recognized widely as property or life threatening. The Police officers like the rest of civilians are inclined to face arrest where wrongdoing is proven. However, very few officers are actually arrested and arraigned in court. The first step in the process is marred with challenges, which include: who is responsible for the arrest of the officers? And how will the officers be treated during the arrest? (Hersh and Friedman 2004). For most districts, police officers are arrested by the same officers whom they have been working with, which in itself offers a challenge that is quite difficult to overcome. In comparison to the number of innocent who are killed and reported dead by media and other outlets, the number of officers that are actually arrested is quite low in percentage.


People Also Read


The second theme analyzed in the literature is the collection of evidence. Brinks (2007) presents a unique case of analyzing evidence collected versus officers who are indicted. He concludes that even faced with overwhelming affected by mental or physical health disability. However, research evidence, interpretation and presentation of the same often differ. While for civilians presentation and presence of research should address pediatric infections and resistant organisms in Aseptic Technique for peripheral IV insertion. There are much evidence immediately means a guilty verdict, for police officers evidence does not necessarily equal guilt. This is further challenged by the fact that gathering if the human society develops. The evidence is left to the same officers who are either friends or have relied on the accused at one time or another. Whereas affected by mental or emotional health disabilities. However, research evidence tampering itself may not be present, there is a likelihood that the amount of evidence and interpretation of the same evidence in line with the accused differs when civilians are involved.

This however does not mean that cases involving offers are not presented in court. Some cases see the court, however, what is astonishing is the number of convictions that result from these cases. According to Klinger et al. (2016), while civilians are forced to face the court openly and in most cases in the eyes of the public, officers are often tried in secret grand juries with no outside involvement. pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that Evidence is presented in a closed circuit and verdicts are meted out in a manner that is often astonishing. Despite growing evidence of wrongdoing, it is quite rare for officers to be convicted of wrongdoing. Prosecutors who are charged with the responsibility of ensuring conviction are less motivated to get the conviction and in most cases have to be forced by the public to bring the officers to court.

Legislators are in the process of campaigning for the removal of officer prosecution from the office of the district attorney. The majority of the recommendations are calling for the set up of bodies made up of civilians who will present the cases and prosecute the officers who are suspected of wrongdoing (Dunham and Peterson, 2017). The current system faces accusations that indicate the possibility of officers meddling in the process: from arrest to conviction, the DA who heavily relies on the officers and has previous relationships with them is likely to interfere in the process of justice.

Review of the literature

Little less than 1% of the cases tried in a court where police officers have been involved in the murder of a civilian turn up any conviction of wrongdoing. This number only represents the cases that finally see the light of the court (Koper 2016). The majority of the time, officers simply go through a form of administrative disciplinary action and are let back into work, there is a complex relationship that exists which hinders the success of the prosecution cases. Prosecutors work hand in hand with officers, solving cases and liberating cities of crime. In fact, it can be said that prosecutors heavily rely on the officers to complete their work. Cases against civilians would be hard to prove let alone convict if officers were not involved. Because of these symbiotic relationships, prosecutors are more or less inclined to feel that trying officers and even where pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidence of wrongdoing exists is detrimental to their own careers (Marenin 2016). Prosecutors are therefore less than motivated to pursue the same line of prosecution with the same motivation that they would apply if civilians were involved. In fact, it is quite difficult to find prosecutors going for the very public indictments that they pursue when civilians are involved. Cases against officers are mostly presented secretly, with less enthusiasm and away from the public eye, in a manner that almost always assures of no indictment.

This literature review also pursues research and an academic preview of evidence presented and researched against officers. Like in every case brought to court, the pursuit of pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidence is not only relevant, it is required within the confines of the law. However, it is often expected that those who pursue the pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidence are the same officers who have been working with the accused. Often, as shown by Worden (2015) pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidence against one officer, is considered as prime evidence against the department and all officers therein. Few want to be the ones gathering the pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidence, presenting the same, and testifying in grand juries about the reliance of the evidence to the case. Therefore, prosecutors are not only less motivated to present the case; they also encounter the burden of proving the case without the support of the officers. It is to be seen that where prosecutors pursue such a case with enthusiasm, they face a less than stellar performance in their other cases against civilians since they are less likely to get the support they so much require from the officers within the departments and the jurisdictions that they cover.

Following concerns that officers are constantly taking the law into their hands, debates have arisen on the best form of punishment. Some feel that officers should be stripped of their honors publicly and face the courts as civilians gaining the punishment of imprisonment or even death where murder is concerned. However, Lee (2018) suggests that these actions have a demoralizing effect not just on the prosecutors but also on other officers. Police officers are less inclined to perform their duties fearing prosecution and severe punishment even where violence is justified and sometimes the only avenue. It is common therefore to find structures and administrative policies that are designed to discipline and regulate the issue of violence among officers. The question, therefore, remains what is the possibility of administrative structures diminishing the occurrence of death, murder, and violence where officers of the law are concerned?

Methodological literature review

Since the interest in police violence from the early 80s’, much has been done on the subject. The focus has however mostly been psychological. According to Jennings and Rubado (2017) researchers have been focused on determining why police officers choose to engage in violence and kill or maim civilians. This psychological approach has dictated much of the methodology applied. Researchers have focused mostly on case studies. As per Terrill and Paoline (2017) case studies have the advantage of allowing in-depth study into the main mannerisms, behavior, and characteristics that officers depict. They show what is common among officers involved in wrongful deaths and may even focus on the mental state of the same officers after the incident. Studies have also been conducted with the focus of determining the signs and symptoms that senior officers and administrative officials can look out for to prevent the occurrence of violence within their jurisdiction. Psychological case studies require small samples since they need an in-depth study. They also call for the purposive selection of the respondents, where not all officers are given a chance to be involved in the study but rather the researcher focuses on the individuals who exemplify a specific behavior in this case: the officers who have killed. The case may in fact revolve around the particular cases and the various individuals who have been involved including the family of the victim. They provide insightful information about the case, the behavior of those involved and thus base their conclusions on altering or intercepting specific characteristics and behaviors that could lead to the use of violence.

This study is unique in that it employs a survey technique. Rather than focusing on the individual officers, who have been involved in the death of civilians or other individuals. This study is designed to study the process and structures that are involved. According to Legewie and Fagan (2016), policy recommendations need to change from personalized recommendations based on the behavior of a few officers and the cases in which they were involved and move towards more structured wholesome recommendations on the process and structures. Therefore, this study will make use of a more generalized sample of officers. These include the administrative officers who are given the responsibility of understanding and applying the processes of prosecution. Since officers are supposed to face the same prosecution process as civilians, the focus of this study is to determine how exactly these processes are applied, if they are at all when officers are involved in killing and murder. Data will be gathered from the officers through questionnaires. Although previous researchers have focused on interviews that are guided through interview guides, questionnaires provide the advantage of anonymity. This is a sensitive topic to both the officers and civilians who are guarded by the officers. Participation in the research is likely to be viewed negatively. Therefore officers and respondents will be giving the advantage of maintaining their anonymity through questionnaires. This will further save time, allowing the officers to go through their daily duties and complete the data when they are free. Survey research focuses on understanding the phenomenon affecting the individuals and respondents rather than the behavior of the respondents which is what has been the focus in the past.

Theoretical framework

Conflict theory

The conflict here is one that is highly regarded in terms of defining and explaining the nature of violence and the occurrence of the same. The theory asserts that in case of conflict, thereof often one group which benefits from the established social arrangements so that their role in the conflict is justified. The group that most benefits from the disproportionate distribution of power will often employ the state’s mechanisms to maintain this power. The conflict theory as shown by Stults and Swagar (2018) first focused on the use of economic power to shift the balance of justice and equality. Those with much wealth make use of the state and its laws to ensure that the same economic power remains exclusive to them. This is why there are the main wealthy families, and even in a purely capitalistic society few other people can center the high echelons of economic power. In recent times, scholars have applied the conflict theory in matters that include income, race, social class, and other aspects that measure inequality. According to Holmes and Smith (2018), police officers wield a particular form of power. They are equipped with the same power and the right to make use of violence to ensure the security of society and themselves. Often when officers are seen carrying guns or approaching an individual menacingly, they are not judged because it is assumed that the individual is in the wrong. This is why; prosecution of officers remains difficult because it must be proven that they indeed approached the individual intending to use violence against them despite their guilt or lack thereof.

According to conflict theory, two classes define the use of violence by the police. The first is the consensus class. Ponton (2016) suggests that in this class, the officers are viewed as making use of violence and indeed engaging in the fatal death of civilians simply because they are responding to the increasing nature of the crime. The state machine of the police is designed and designated with the duty of combating crime and therefore, all forms of violence can be justified about the nature and prevalence of crime. Hence the statements which are often common: “it seemed or I thought he had a gun”. The increase in crime makes policing difficult as well as dangerous, and therefore the officer’s first instinct is to protect themselves by completely engaging the perceived threat. On the other hand, Maskaly and Donner (2015) indicate that pure conflict theorists are often in disagreement. They see society as a stratified state in which each group attempts to maintain the status quo. In this case therefore police are often seen as the mechanism of the rich and powerful to control the poor and disadvantaged. Nagin and Pogarsky (2001) concur indicating that this is perhaps why the highest forms of police violence and deaths incurred are in lower social class neighborhoods. In this case, therefore, the mechanisms of the state such as the judiciary are not applied to enhance justice but rather the existing status quo, which means protecting their assets at all times. Therefore prosecution of officers takes a different avenue to that of civilians not because of the structures and process but rather because of the underlying powers controlling the process.

Literature gaps

Studies have remained conflicted on the application of procedures when it comes to the arrest of officers. According to Kochel (2017), there are two main conflicting classes. On the one hand, some feel that arrest and public humiliation of officers involved in crime and especially the killing of civilians is likely to demoralize the force. Since as a society we heavily rely on officers to provide for our protection and security which by ourselves we cannot and since we agree that a country without active officers is one which in itself is ruled by anarchy, the motivation of officers remains a high priority. Civilians who know that officers can face the law are likely to take advantage of the same to justify engaging in crime and unlawful actions. Officers as well are likely to operate in fear, thereby leaving crime to rule for fear of persecution. On the other hand, some suggest that application of the arrest procedures holds the officers to a higher esteem, demanding from them a higher standard since the power that they wield is also high. This will curb greed and the tendency to personalize actions. What remains therefore is pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidence showing the value that arrest procedures have added to the process of curbing crime among officers.

Prenzler et al. (2013) assume that officers are aware and knowledgeable about the procedures and processes of collecting pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidence and that what lacks is the desire and enthusiasm to make use of the knowledge that they possess. pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that Evidence collected from the crimes in which officers are involved is often poorly handled and interpreted by the same officers. There seems to be a disconnect from the collection of the pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidence, presentation of the same evidence, and application of the same evidence to make a case for conviction. Whereas civilians can be convicted even based on circumstantial pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidence, the same cannot be applied to the officers. Researchers look to answer the question of whether the challenge is on the process of evidence collection and recording of the same or the application of the evidence to make conclusive remarks. Or is the challenge even further into the understanding of the procedures about crimes that involve officers? This is because the pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidence cannot be handled the same and the value placed on testimonies has got to be different from that applied by civilians.

Since the advent of the Christopher Commission, the problem of police violence is one that has been overly addressed. Recommendations for both punitive and administrative measures have been made on the same (Sampson and Cohen 2008). States have invested in enhancing the structures for punishment and dealing with any form of violence where officers are involved. Yet, even with all these measures in place, there is an ever-increasing focus on violence meted by police and especially about the deaths of civilians. The punishment and disciplinary actions often seem to be incomprehensible to the nature of the crime. Officers are placed on administrative leave or demoted and in some cases given a few weeks suspension, few are jailed or adequately punished for their involvement. With more reliance on administrative measures, is it likely that the focus on preventing the occurrence of violence and death at the hands of police has surpassed the need to discourage the recurrence of the same behavior?


Brinks, D. M. (2007). The judicial response to police killings in Latin America: inequality and the rule of law. Cambridge University Press.

Dunham, R. G., & Petersen, N. (2017). Making Black Lives Matter: Evidence‐Based Policies for Reducing Police Bias in the Use of Deadly Force. Criminology & Public Policy16(1), 341-348.

Hersh, S. M., & Friedman, P. (2004). Chain of command. London: Penguin.

Holmes, M. D., & Smith, B. W. (2018). Social-psychological dynamics of police-minority relations: An evolutionary interpretation. Journal of Criminal Justice59, 58-68.

Jennings, J. T., & Rubado, M. E. (2017). Preventing the use of deadly force: The relationship between police agency policies and rates of officer‐involved gun deaths. Public Administration Review77(2), 217-226.

Klinger, D., Rosenfeld, R., Isom, D., & Deckard, M. (2016). Race, crime, and the micro‐ecology of deadly force. Criminology & Public Policy15(1), 193-222.

Kochel, T. R. (2017). Explaining racial differences in Ferguson’s impact on residents’ trust and perceived legitimacy: Policy implications for police. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 0887403416684923.

Lee, C. (2018). Reforming the Law on Police Use of Deadly Force: De-Escalation, Preseizure Conduct, and Imperfect Self-Defense. U. Ill. L. Rev., 629.

Legewie, J., & Fagan, J. (2016). Group threat, police officer diversity, and the deadly use of police force. Columbia Public Law Research Paper, (14-512).

Marenin, O. (2016). Cheapening death: Danger, police street culture, and the use of deadly force. Police Quarterly19(4), 461-487.

Maskaly, J., & Donner, C. M. (2015). A theoretical integration of social learning theory with terror management theory: Towards an explanation of police shootings of unarmed suspects. American Journal of Criminal Justice40(2), 205-224.

Nagin, D. S., & Pogarsky, G. (2001). Integrating celerity, impulsivity, and extralegal sanction threats into a model of general deterrence: Theory and pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidenceCriminology39(4), 865-892.

Ponton, D. (2016). Clothed in blue flesh: police brutality and the disciplining of race, gender, and the” human”. Theory & Event19(3).

Prenzler, T., Porter, L., & Alpert, G. P. (2013). Reducing police use of force: Case studies and prospects. Aggression and Violent Behavior18(2), 343-356.

Sampson, R. J., & Cohen, J. (2008). Deterrent effects of the police on crime: A replication and theoretical extension. Law & Soc’y Rev.22, 163.

Stults, B. J., & Swagar, N. (2018). Racial and Ethnic Threat: Theory, Research, and New Directions. The Handbook of Race, Ethnicity, Crime, and Justice, 147-71.

Terrill, W., & Paoline III, E. A. (2017). Police use of less-lethal force: does administrative policy matter?. Justice Quarterly34(2), 193-216.

Worden, R. E. (2015). The ‘causes’ of police brutality: theory and pipeline of school to prison. Ecenbarger (2012) believes that that evidence on police use of force. ER Maguire, & DE Duffee, Criminal Justice Theory: Explaining The Nature and Behavior of Criminal Justice2, 149-204.

5/5 - (11 votes)

Need Support in Studies? 📚 – Enjoy 10% OFF on all papers! Use the code "10FALLHELP"