16 Shots and a Cover-Up

Legal Remedies for Officer-Involved Conspiracies

When insular silence becomes cultural, corruption becomes endemic. Though not unique to law enforcement, the harm that results when local police departments protect their own at the expense of society is immense. Too often the “blue wall of silence” stymies justice for citizens harmed by those sworn to serve and protect. This Note argues that certain steps are urgently needed to shatter conspiracies of silence within police departments. Specifically, legislatures should codify a modified version of civil conspiracy liability, prohibit secret settlements, and require that police misconduct settlements come from the local police budget. Further, police departments should adopt proactive ethical policing policies and actively reward officers who intervene against police misconduct. Absent a massive change in the internal cultural dynamics of police departments, misconduct will run rampant as officers are incentivized to remain silent rather than be deemed a rat. A modified version of civil conspiracy liability would be a powerful tool in the hands of citizens to ensure that the police serve and protect the whole community.

a. J.D. Candidate, University of Illinois College of Law. My sincerest thanks to the many kind and supportive humans who have enabled me to write this Note. Thank you to my wife, daughter, and family for your loving patience. Thank you to the beautiful community that is the South Side of Chicago whose loving embrace of my family transformed the way I see the world. Thank you to the talented editors of the University of Illinois Law Review for your support, advice, and friendship. May we continually press towards justice, accountability, and human flourishing. Black Lives Matter.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.