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Types of police misconduct and how to know if you are a victim

Police officers can routinely be in situations that involve stress and elevated levels of anxiety. An officer can go from a quiet and serene day to responding to a call where citizens confront them in an aggressive manner. However, no matter the situation, it is expected that a police officer responds professionally while enforcing the law and making arrests.

Unfortunately, there are times when police behavior comes into question. When a situation becomes overwhelming or if the officer feels they are losing control of a situation, instances of abuse of power or violating someone’s rights can occur. If you are wondering what exactly constitutes police misconduct, here are some common actions that may be put into question.

Prisoner suicides on the rise in Pennsylvania

Over the last decade, Pennsylvania prisons have seen a 103 percent rise in the suicide rate. So far, no one is sure why. The Department of Corrections (DOC) claims the increase is on par with an overall increase in suicides in Pennsylvania. The general suicide rate has also gone up over the past decade, but only by 22 percent. Suicide attempts in prisons have tripled in the past four years.

 

Steps a landlord needs to take to evict in Pennsylvania

If you are a renter in Pennsylvania, it is important that you know the steps a landlord needs to take if they have decided on eviction. The landlord must follow the steps laid out in the Pennsylvania law called the Landlord and Tenant Act. Regardless of the reason, any eviction from a landlord cannot be done without following the rules of the law. However, if you are staying in a special boarding home or a guest at a lodging facility such as a motel, this law will not apply for eviction.

One of the most important parts of the law is that landlords are not able to take any actions on their own to keep you from your home. This can include removing your property from the home, changing the locks or using tactics to forcibly move you out. Here is a breakdown of the procedures a landlord must take to properly carry-out an eviction.

What qualifies as a false arrest?

A police officer stops you while you are walking down a Philadelphia street. The officer claims he saw you steal something from the store you just left and places you under arrest. Would that be a false arrest?

A false arrest occurs when someone is illegally restrained from freedom of movement. It does not necessarily have to include a jail cell or handcuffs. A storeowner that accuses you of shoplifting and then refuses to let you leave the store could be accused of false arrest.

What are the risks of the police using Tasers?

In the early 2000’s, an innovation from the 1970’s gained increasing popularity with police departments all over the country that is still in use today. A Taser, also known as a stun gun, is primarily used to incapacitate someone who either poses a threat or needs to be immobilized to have handcuffs put on.

A Taser has two wires with probes and when it enters a body it will overload a person’s nerves with an electric shock. This will cause a person to fall to the ground with no ability to control movement.

Can the police search your car without a warrant?

If the police want to search your property, they will generally need a search warrant to do so. But what if they want to search your car during a traffic stop?

If you are pulled over by a police officer and they want to search your vehicle, they only need to have probable cause to legally do the search. A police officer is not allowed to search a car based on a hunch. Probable cause does need to be backed up by evidence that illegal activity is taking place. Examples of evidence that could constitute a search would be the smell of contraband or an officer receives an admission of guilt from someone in the car. It is important to know that any minor traffic violation that was the cause of being pulled over does not fall under probable cause.

Black men arrested at Starbucks suggest profiling and racial bias

Two black men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks in April provoked nationwide outrage as a viral video of the incident circulated. The men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, were waiting on another man for a business meeting at the coffee chain. They asked to use the bathroom, but an employee refused because they had not purchased anything. The employee then asked the men to leave, but they did not, and a staff member called the police.

According to CNN, the police arrived at Starbucks, and asked the men to leave three times because the employee had accused the men of trespassing. When the men refused, the officers handcuffed the men and took them to the police station. The man they were waiting to meet, Andrew Yaffe, arrived as the officers were placing the men in cuffs. The men were released, after it was determined that Starbucks did not want to press charges.

What is the eviction process for tenants?

You have been living in a rented home for a while now, but suddenly you find out you are being evicted. It may come as a shock to you and your family and you might not know what to do.

You might wonder what the process is. It is important to be sure your landlord is following appropriate eviction procedure to ensure that the process is legal. Following, are two procedures your landlord must abide by in order to make your eviction legal.

Can you film the police in Philadelphia?

Under the First Amendment to the Constitution, you generally have the right to engage in expressive freedom of speech in a public place. The evolution of what constitutes "speech" has expanded to include videos, so long as they are expressive (intended to communicate a message to an audience).

So, is recording video footage of police interactions covered under your First Amendment rights?

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