Police departments in Michigan that are concerned about police misconduct and public dissatisfaction with law enforcement might look to a successful program in New Orleans that is making its way to Baltimore. The “Ethical Policing Is Courageous” training program, or EPIC, encourages officers to intervene when they see misconduct from one another and uses role-playing and other exercises to prepare them for situations in which they might need to act.
The image of law enforcement in New Orleans had suffered after several officers were found guilty for shooting people during Hurricane Katrina and many others abandoned the force. A federal consent decree was placed on the department in 2012 following an officer’s killing of a man who was unarmed. Officials determined that a cultural change was needed that ended the silence officers would use to protect one another in cases of misconduct. As evidence of the program’s success, there has been a drop in citizens’ complaints. The police department also has anecdotal evidence of incidents that would have escalated to force in the past but did not because of peer intervention.
Baltimore is badly in need of reform as well with several reported cases of internal corruption. Other cities have expressed interest in creating their own version of the EPIC program, including Baton Rouge, Albuquerque and St. Paul.
In addition to leading to injury, police misconduct can result in a wrongful conviction. Examples of police misconduct could range from the use of excessive force when someone is detained to beatings or shootings. However, people may face serious challenges in claiming police misconduct if the law enforcement officer’s colleagues and the department take steps to protect the officer. People who believe they have suffered from police misconduct may want to consult an attorney.