The Beacon police department has come to an agreement with the feds regarding an in depth investigation into the town’s numerous lawsuits involving police brutality. Though the U.S. District Attorney’s Office states it found no laws were violated by police they are recommending the Beacon PD implement several reforms.
The six-year investigation was a result of numerous lawsuits and began in 2004. Reforms and recommendations were initially made in 2005 and 2008 and the U.S. District Attorney wants the department to stay on task with those 40 reforms.
Since their intial issuance, the Beacon Police Department has taken those reforms and recommendations and rewritten their police policy and procedures manuals, which hadn’t been revised for over two decades.
The updated procedures and reforms that have taken place as a result of the investigation have led to the department being accredited with the state, something the Chief states he is very proud of. “State accreditation requires an annual review of police policies,” according to this Poughkeepsie Journal article.
The agreement between the police department and the U.S. District Attorney’s Office will remain in place as long as the city continues to adhere to the terms, for the next two years.
Among the brutality lawsuits that brought the investigation upon Beacon were several that resulted in thousands of dollars in payouts from the town.
The required reforms and new procedures implemented include more detailed use of force training and the inclusion of verbal de-escalation techniques. Things like carotid holds and choke holds are now prohibited aside from in extreme cases. Also, types and amounts of ammunition that officers are allowed to carry are now limited.
Federal agencies step in to investigate local police departments when legitimate allegations of brutality or corruption are rampant. They provide a checks and balance system, as an outside agency tasked with uncovering potential abuses and recommending reforms. In extreme cases, they will take control of a local agency to promote major change.
Although investigations like this are fairly rare, allegations of police brutality are quite common. Anytime an official has the power of law enforcement behind them, a risk of abuse is great. Likewise, anytime someone’s rights are suspended (as in the case of arrest) the line between proper procedures and constitutional violations becomes even thinner.
To understand the difference of a proper use of force and police brutality is tricky. Often, it’s a matter of he said/she said with the officer’s word against yours. If you’ve ever been in a situation like this, you know how hard it is to feel like no one is on your side.
In cases like these, your defense attorney is your best advocate. When you are facing criminal charges and not sure anyone is on your side, a criminal defense lawyer is there to ensure your side of the story is heard and to aggressively defend your interest in court.