Author

Elise Seale

Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Interdisciplinary Studies

First Advisor

Robert Press, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

Abstract

The Law Enforcement Misconduct Statute was passed by Congress as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, partly as a reaction to a nationwide debate about excessive use of police force after Rodney King’s brutal killing in 1991. The statute gave the Department of Justice the ability to investigate and file suits against individual police departments; the statute’s intent was both to reform the investigated departments with high amounts of misconduct and excessive force and to incentivize police reform nationwide. However, because of the financial setbacks involved in launching investigations and inconsistency in implementation, this statute is generally regarded by scholars as inefficient. This study examines how the statute has been used in recent years, specifically studying six case reports provided by the Department of Justice. By examining these reports, the study aims to identify certain systemic failures that lead to high amounts of misconduct reports and excessive force complaints as well as common reforms, which can be implemented in departments to potentially combat excessive force proactively. Furthermore, this study includes interviews with two Mississippi police departments, the Hattiesburg and Laurel departments, to further analyze what is currently being done at the local level to deal with potential misconduct and excessive force complaints.

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