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Essay on Police Brutality

December 18th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Police Brutality is an ongoing problem and existent concern in the United States and should be resolved immediately. Law enforcement must function as an element that consists of organized and civilized officers. The presence of police brutality is becoming more of an issue as society grows. The problem posed by the illegal exercise of police power is an ongoing reality for individuals of a disfavored race, class, or sexual orientation. Police brutality must be stopped so that police do not forget who they are serving – not themselves, but the public. This means that even the criminals, who are a part of the public, have certain rights, particularly, civil rights. Police brutality causes a major concern in today’s society in America and a resolution is imminent.

Police brutality was brought to the forefront in 1991 by the Rodney King episode.

Historically, minorities have been victims of police brutality in the United States. Since the middle of the 19th century a dominant white social class maintained racial injustice through a police force willing to use violence against minorities. This violence expressed itself in the years immediately after the civil war through brutality in various forms. America has a lengthy an disgraceful tradition of police brutality to attain a sense of law and order in its society.

Police misconduct can be described as any inappropriate behavior on the part of any law enforcement officer that is either illegal or immoral or both. Law enforcement agents are should behave to a standard that is greater than the average civilian. Police brutality comes from an abuse of power granted to the police. Police brutality is often drawn on by overreaction in certain situations drawn on by panic. Police using excessive force in the United States is a crucial dilemma and must be stopped.

Often police officers build up negative feelings towards certain races, sexes, or religions. Officers tend to get the idea that if one or a few people treat them with disrespect, then other people of that same sex or creed will behave the same. Race consistently plays a key role in police brutality in the United States. Law enforcement has exposed minorities to discriminatory treatment and has many times physically abused minorities. Mistreatment is not always physical but sometimes non-violent harassment and humiliating (source). Police have been known to detain drivers for driving in certain areas or for driving a specific type of vehicle (source).The problem with racial profiling against minorities is that it creates distrust between racial minority communities and the police. Jerome Skolnick discusses the reports that lead to distrust of the police in the following passage. He reports, “Witnesses often tell tales of police officers verbally harassing minorities; detaining African-American and Latino Men who fit certain generalized descriptions; employing the so-called “prone-out” tactic…in minority neighborhoods, even for routine traffic stops; and using excessive force, particularly in African-American and Latino communities. The intensity and frequency of these complaints reveal a serious problem.

The following consist of steps proposed to help prevent police brutality and excessive force in America. The internal affairs departments should be improved and renewed in each police precinct. Internal affair departments are the most responsible for handling the problem of police misconduct. The first solution to improving internal affairs would be to re-valuate leadership roles. Internal affairs must conduct precise and thorough investigations to ensure human integrity is upheld. Internal affairs must use early warning systems to expose and handle “problem officers” that are fully operational in all police departments. Disciplinary actions against officers responsible for excessive force should be firm. Internal review activities should remain focused and documented each time a review is conducted. The cost of this solution is minimal due to the fact that it only involves better management of a system that is already active.

Police departments should revise and reevaluate its training exercises in order to provide a solution to excessive force. New training methods must be provided on situations that usually lead to brutality. Officers should be educated on how to correctly operate pepper spray, how to engage in post chase arrest, and how to handle in a non-violent way mentally ill citizens. The effects of the newest police weapon technology, such as pepper spray, should be thoroughly investigated before being available for use by police officers. Training should utilize ways to deal with the effects of weapons used by police, including proper medical assistance. Trainers should be chosen carefully to ensure a more effective training policy. Complaints and allegations of any kind of misconduct should be considered when choosing new trainers. Police departments must avoid choosing police officers with a history of violent behavior to serve as trainers. This solution is achievable and will help discourage police abuse. Cost of the revision of training is small because it just requires new training methods.

A background check should be conducted to ensure that the police departments do not hire potentially violent police officers. Also, a tracking system should be implemented in conjunction with the background check. This tracking system will prevent terminated problem officers from being assigned to a new position at another precinct. Police departments should be required to submit relevant information to a tracking office when an officer is fired for human rights abuses or when a police officer quits before a decision is made regarding the officers misconduct. Recruiters must be required to check with the same tracking office before any applicant. An officer found guilty of police misconduct in any way violent or non-violent should be decertified. Desertification can be described as the process of making any certificates or licenses the officer holds invalid. Officers who have been decertified cannot be employed as police officers again until they are re-certified. These solutions should be very effective because it filters out many potential problem officers.

There are countless reasons why police brutality should be stopped as quickly as possible. The first reason is because patrons are getting hurt due to police brutality. For example, the Rodney King beating of 1991 left the nation shocked as Americans got a taste of police brutality first hand. Another example of people getting hurt would be the torture of Abner Louiama. This Haitian immigrant was beaten and sexually assaulted by police officers because he was allegedly resisting arrest. These are just the major examples of police using force to use illegal tactics when apprehending suspects. The second reason Police misconduct should be stopped is because people are also getting killed. An example of this would be in 1997 when New York resident Amadou Diallo was gunned down by the New York City Police Department. Diallo was killed by the police because the officers on duty thought his wallet was a weapon. Diallo was shot at 41 times because of his wallet potentially could have been a gun. This a prime example of police force using excessive force in order to apprehend a suspect. These are reasons why police brutality needs be diminished from our society.

Police argue that they use excessive force only to protect themselves against criminals. The Police may argue that they already have an internal affairs division and that the current system is working. Investigation by internal affairs staff is frequently concealed, and often police informants are used to tamper with evidence in cases against officers. Law Enforcement highly opposes to background checks and tracking systems calling it, “Spying on the people hired to protect the public”. However, the police are consistently spying on people in order to catch them doing criminal activities, so in theory this would only treat the police as they treat other citizens. Usually, law enforcement officers apt to deny accountability for harm that is done to patrons of their jurisdiction. Consequently, officers try to counteract behavior patterns they display. Case in point, an officer may use extreme force on suspects who make efforts to resist or contest police authority. When police overreact to these situations they feel that they are justified due the resistance by the suspect. If law enforcement agents justify their actions in every situation police brutality is going to intensify.

The police have a dreadful reputation, especially among minorities, yet officers are doing little to improve public relations. The solution to problem of police brutality must begin with the officers themselves. Law enforcement must make an effort to show that they trying to protect the community and show that they are not looking to harass people Public relations may be the key to refute police brutality because resistance by citizens will be minimal. A good relationship between law enforcement and minorities will go a long way to help relations with the public.

The problem with Police misconduct is that it is a complex problem. However, with the right solutions intact this situation can be resolved. Police brutality stands as one of the most severe and troublesome civil rights infringements in America. The misconduct of police officers, such as, physical abuse, unlawful shootings, and verbal assault must end. Police precincts across America should function as a force that handles situations in a professional and civilized manner. The issue of police brutality is becoming more crucial as society grows.

  1. Lawanna McConnell
    July 5th, 2016 at 20:35 | #1

    I need to know how to find out what this cop has done before in his past. Can someone please help me on this issue

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