1994 September 13

Violent Crime Control Act Addresses Police Abuse, Violence Against Women


The 1994 Violent Crime Control Act was signed into law on this day by President Bill Clinton. The act was one of the most important law enforcement acts of modern time, addressing community policing, police abuse, and violence against women. (The major part of the law provided funding for community policing projects, implementing President Bill Clinton’s campaign promise to add 100,000 police officers across the country.)

Most important, Section 14141 of the law addressed police misconduct by authorizing the U. S. Justice Department to sue law enforcement agencies that engage in a “pattern or practice” of abuse of peoples’ rights. The Justice Department sued the police departments in Pittsburgh (April 16, 1997), Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Seattle and New Orleans, among others. The law is enforced by the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.

See, for example, the blistering Justice Department report on Ferguson, Missouri, released on March 4, 2015.

Another section of the law is known as the Violence Against Women Act, and was the first federal law specifically addressing that aspect of women’s rights (see the separate entry for this date).

Section 14141: “It shall be unlawful for any governmental authority, or any agent thereof, or any person acting on behalf of a governmental authority, to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers or by officials or employees of any governmental agency with responsibility for the administration of juvenile justice or the incarceration of juveniles that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”

Visit the Special Litigation Section web sitehttp://www.justice.gov/crt/about/spl/police.php

Learn more: Samuel Walker and Carol Archbold, The New World of Police Accountability, 2nd ed. (2014)

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