Federal prosecutors are charging an increasing number of law enforcement officers with brutality, reports USA Today. The heightened prosecutions come as the largest police union fears that agencies are dropping standards to fill thousands of vacancies and “scrimping” on training. Cases in which police, prison guards, and other law enforcement authorities have used excessive force or other tactics to violate victims’ civil rights have increased 25 percent (281 vs. 224) from fiscal years 2001 to 2007 over the previous seven years, says the Justice Department. During the same period, the department won 53 percent more convictions (391 vs. 256).
The vast majority of police brutality cases referred by investigators are not prosecuted. The cases involve only a small fraction of the nation’s estimated 800,000 officers, says James Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). Even so, he says FOP is concerned that reduced standards, training, and promotion of less experienced officers into the higher police ranks could undermine more rigid supervision.