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What is Police Officers’ Duty to Report Excessive Force?

As a police officer, witnessing excessive force by a fellow officer can be a difficult situation. You may feel conflicted between loyalty to your colleague and the duty to uphold the law and protect the public. However, as difficult as it may be, the duty to report excessive force is a legal requirement that all officers must abide by.

In Colorado, excessive force refers to any use of more physical force than is reasonably needed to manage a situation. This may involve anything from using batons or tasers without justification to harming or injuring an arrestee who is not resisting arrest.

As a police officer, it is your obligation to report any excessive force that you witness and any violations thereof. Failure to do so could result in criminal charges, fines, and jail time. Colorado Revised Statutes Title 18, Article 8, Part 8, Section 18-8-802 details these requirements for reporting excessive force by peace officers.

Officers also have an obligation to intervene if they witness excessive force being used against any person, including fellow officers. If this occurs, you must either stop it yourself or notify a superior immediately.

What May Constitute Excessive Force?

Examples of excessive force by a police officer in Colorado include:

  • Using a Taser or other electronic control device when it is not necessary or warranted.
  • Physical harm or injury caused to someone who is not resisting arrest or poses no threat to the officers or public.
  • Unnecessarily utilizing pressure on an individual’s neck or chest while restraining them, resulting in suffocation or other serious injuries.
  • Refusing to provide medical attention to a suspect who requires it.
  • Slamming an individual onto the ground or against a hard surface causes a severe or unnecessary injury.
  • Shooting a suspect who is unarmed or poses no immediate threat to the officer or public.
  • Repeatedly hitting, striking, or kicking an individual who is already restrained.

Consequences for Failure to Report Excessive Force

The consequences for failing to report excessive force can be severe. In addition to criminal charges and fines, officers can face disciplinary action from their department, including suspension or termination. Additionally, failing to report excessive force can erode public trust in law enforcement and damage the department’s reputation as a whole.

The penalties for failing to report excessive force as a police officer may include the following:

  • Criminal charges - Officers can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor that carries a potential sentence of three to twelve months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
  • Disciplinary action - An officer who fails to report excessive force may face disciplinary action from their department, such as suspension or termination.
  • Erode public trust - Not reporting excessive force can erode public trust in law enforcement, leading to a damaged reputation of the department as a whole.

It is essential to understand the severity of not reporting excessive force and the possible repercussions that could impact both the officer and the department.

Understanding Your Legal Rights

At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., we understand the complexities of excessive force cases. Our experienced Colorado Springs defense attorneys can help you navigate the legal system and ensure that your rights are protected. The duty to report excessive force is an important responsibility of law enforcement officers. Failure to report excessive force can have severe legal and professional consequences. If you are being charged with failing to report excessive force, The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. is here to help.

Contact us today at (719) 475-2555 to schedule a consultation so we can review your case.

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