The police and bias

All professionals make mistakes, but when a police officer commits an error, the consequences could take someone’s freedom away. A person frightened after an arrest on false charges could make an equally false confession, leading to jail time. Or, a civil lawsuit for false arrest may arise when charges end up dismissed. Ultimately, many troubling instances of police misconduct or negligence may derive from an officer’s biased decision-making.

Bias and police decisions

Biases take many forms. Racial bias could lead an officer to stop-and-frisk someone who did nothing wrong. That’s one common example, and there are others.

A police officer might notice a car traveling slowly and become suspicious. The officer may pull the vehicle over, claiming the slow speed provided the requisite reasonable suspicion. A search and arrest for drug or weapon possession could follow. However, if the car is driving within the speed limit or slowing down to look for a parking spot, the officer’s claims may not hold up. The officer’s biased outlook could leave them assuming the worst about any slow-moving vehicle.

Combating bias and an unlawful arrest

Bias and the violation of someone’s rights could also involve the procurement of false confessions. The police may believe someone is guilty, despite weak evidence. Threatening the suspect could coerce a false confession, one that may or may not stand up in court. A criminal defense strategy may involve attempts to throw out questionable confessions and evidence.

Constitutional rights afford people protections against illegal searches and seizures. When bias and lack of probable cause factor into an arrest, that could be a violation of the suspect’s rights.

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