PART XII - PEACE OFFICER LIABILITY (suggested time 2 hours)


1.     Identify the following regarding police liability


a.  The purposes of compensatory and punitive damages.

b.  Who, as a matter of policy (as opposed to practice), must pay compensatory and punitive damages?

c.  The ability of insurance companies to pay punitive damages.

d.  The difference between intentional and negligent torts.

e.  The general defenses against torts, Constitutional torts, and Civil Rights Criminal Actions.

f.   The ability of ignorance of the law to establish “reasonable good faith”

g.  The defense provided for civil litigation by a justification in the Criminal Code.


2.     Explain what is meant by the term “qualified immunity,” how it differs from “absolute immunity,” and whether it is a defense against civil litigation.


3.     State that any of the following six types of situations presents a particularly high risk of liability to police officers:


a.  excessive use of force                           d.         negligent use of a firearm

b.  false arrest                                            e.         negligent use of a motor vehicle

c.  false imprisonment                                f.          roadblocks


4.     Identify ways that the police officer might best defend him/herself against a civil suit or criminal action in the following areas, based on the handout provided in class.


a.  Use of force - especially the value of documentation of the incident and any injuries, the need to end force immediately when control is obtained, the proper care of the subject, and issues regarding roadblocks and how to set-up a roadblock to minimize liability.

b.  False arrest – especially the need to be sure of your probable cause and the need to unarrest if that probable cause disappears.

c.  False imprisonment – especially unarrest, speedy application for warrant and observation of the Twenty-hour Rule.

d.  Negligent use of a firearm – especially proper use and maintenance of firearms, avoidance of warning shots, proper storage and proper training and practice.

e.  Negligent use of a motor vehicle – especially importance of following all traffic laws, provisions for operating as an emergency vehicle, issues regarding pursuits, maintenance of the vehicle, and some common causes of vehicular liability within the control of the officer.

f.      Roadblocks - especially the importance of proper placement of roadblocks and how an improperly executed roadblock can be considered an unreasonable seizure because of excessive use of force.