Current Issues with Police Brutality in the US
The police form an integral part of the society as their profession is considered noble, they act as protectors by saving lives, catching criminals, and the preservation of order. However, the idea of a quintessential police officer does not always correspond to reality. The general police force is characterized as good men that are ready to serve and save life, but there is always the presence of the bad ones go unnoticed by their superiors. Research studies show that bad policemen are mainly individuals who are obsessed with power or may have lost the opportunity to realize their dreams. It is imperative to note that law enforcement officials are normal individuals who are described with defects and should not be expected to be perfect. Moreover, their general line of work is commonly dangerous and often requires rapid responses. Police brutality is the illegal use or abuse of authority through the unwarranted application of excessive force by law enforcement agents while on duty (Cassisi, 2016; In Ruth, 2016). It is also used to define abuse conducted by correctional officers while performing their work. Police brutality is predominantly used as a concept relating to physical harm, but can also address psychological harm from intimidation that goes beyond the expected official procedures.
Police officers who are involved in police brutality in modern society conduct these acts at times following the approval of their superiors or they may be rogue officers (Roland, 2016). Just about all of these officers, by human nature, attempt to cover-up any illegal activity conducted by their partners or themselves when it happens. Acts of police brutality in the US can range from torture, assault, havoc, and murder. Other forms of mistreatments done by police include: verbal abuse, intimidation, and harassment, such as a false arrests (Cassisi, 2016). Studies such as The Counted by the Guardian which is an interactive research project that records the number of individuals murdered by police officers in the US records that more than nine hundred individuals were killed by the police in 2015. This research project also maintains a record of the victims’ demographic features such as gender, race, state, and age. Each victim has a personalized account and this project shows there is an evident trend that black people have a three times higher chance of being murdered by police officers compared to whites. African-Americans are also more than twice likely to be unarmed when they encounter different forms of brutality compared to their white counterparts (In Ruth, 2016; Roland, 2016). Statistical analysis from The Guardian shows that 32% of black people murdered by police officers in the year 2015 were unarmed while 15% were white and 25% Hispanic. Native Americans just like blacks also have an increased chance of being killed by law enforcement officers. The misuse of use of force by police officers is one of the most common forms of police misconduct in the police force. Most of these cases include chokeholds, physical attacks, and baton strikes (Cassisi, 2016). The most worrying trend of police brutality is that the police officers who commit these murders are rarely convicted and this paper critically analyzes the current issues with police brutality in the US.
Victims of police brutality have used different platforms such as protests to voice out their issues but the chances of seeing the involved officers on the dock are very limited (Roland, 2016). The success of filing a civil claim is also dependent on the specific city and the financial responsibility for these cases are catered for by the municipality as opposed to the accused officer. Victims also fear of filing complaints with the Police Internal Investigations Department because they believe there will be no actions taken against the rogue officers, and this may lead o police retaliation against the complainant; especially if they are not U.S. citizens. Research shows that only cases that have been widely publicized have a chance of initiating criminal proceedings (Cassisi, 2016). This consequently increases the damage caused by police brutality among the victims, their family members, and friends who are resentful towards the police force. The fact that most of the police brutality control procedures are ineffective most victims chose to remain silent rather than complain for no viable results (In Ruth, 2016). The sad fact is that the rogue officers continue to hold their positions with an added feeling of power for getting away with their actions and the brutality continues among other victims.
Police brutality in the US can be classified as the most serious and systematic form of human rights violations. The challenge is both at an institutional and national level. There is the excessive use of firearms among police offers in the US, beating detainees, the application of unreasonably brutal strategies of physical pressure that lacks substantial justification, and other methods such as choking (Cassisi, 2016). Police brutality in the American police force is made up of a small percentage of the rogue officers, but the fact that most of their colleagues are silent to the numerous complaints and the internal police investigations bias seems to encourage their systematic brutality among innocent civilians especially people of color. A victim will be faced by unending obstacles when they try to seek redress from the unwillingness of prosecutors to take their cases to open intimidation (In Ruth, 2016). A small percentage of police officers, recently exposed by the media, have shown negative feelings or indifference towards different races, religions, or sexes and race continues to play a chief role in police brutality in the US.
The civil rights movement for equality in the US addressed issues relating to white supremacy and the discrimination and segregation of minority groups particularly the black community. However, despite its progress racism is still present and remains a huge challenge in the society (Chaney ; Robertson, 2013; Roland, 2016). Different studies such as Pew Research and Academic projects show that police brutality is recognized by racial minority groups through the use of discrimination, unwarranted use of physical force, and the use of racist statements. The different cases of police brutality against minority groups such as Hispanics and African-Americans on today’s media highlight the abuse and racial discrimination faced by the victims. Police officers have for a long time brutalized minority groups to consolidate and advance white supremacy with 1093 individuals killed by the police in 2015 and 1146 in 2016 in the US. The use of excessive force among police officers in modern society is exposed on different social media platforms through the use of surveillance technologies and active civil rights advocates as well as the community of online activists (Ra?bsamen, 2015). This addresses and brings to light cases of police brutality that may go unnoticed although it creates issues with the police officers. However, the justice system fails to protect citizens against such rogue officers who are acquitted or cleared in the resolved cases.
There is evidence which supports the claim that courts choose not to or cannot recognize the systematic patterns of police brutality in the US. The institutionalized system of the police culture, management, and training also encourages police brutality towards innocent civilians (In Ruth, 2016). The criminal justice system often vehemently discourages prosecutors from pursuing cases related to police brutality or misconduct. The government also readily responds and supports the law enforcement systems as opposed to the minority groups (Chaney & Robertson, 2013). Significant social change is required that chiefly addresses the issue of racism to control the current challenges of police brutality in the US. Police brutality is directly linked to racial profiling as the differences in race, socio-economic status, political affiliation, or religion prompts law enforcement agents to view a certain population as deserving of punishment (Chaney & Robertson, 2013; Roland, 2016). Some of these populations also regard the police as oppressors as opposed to protectors. The general perception is that police brutality victims are from minority groups which fuels the frustrations and anger of why these cases are not addressed by the justice system. There are arguments which state that the use of force by police officers is a direct response to a perceived threat that threatens the existing social order or a response to the level of violence in that particular society.
Trends and Examples
The prevalence of police brutality in the US is not well documented since most of the cases are not reported, but the media, through the use of personal cell phones, has uncovered many cases in the last decade. Most victims state that they avoid the process of filling a complaint since it is unnecessarily and often intimidating. Race has been cited as one of the issues that played a major role in the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 (Chaney & Robertson, 2013; Ra?bsamen, 2015). Darren Wilson, a white police officer fatally shot Brown an 18-year-old African-American who was unarmed in Ferguson Missouri. Brown had tried to grab Wilson’s gun and later came back towards him when he was shot. The predominantly black city residents were enraged by the shooting and conducted riots that generated intense debate about how law enforcement officers treat African-Americans (Chaney ; Robertson, 2013). The growth and development of technology, the internet, and social media has provided platforms where police brutality cases are widely shared. There have been notions that police brutality is not getting worse rather social media is helping to uncover these issues. Social media seems to be showing the reality that victims have had to secretly endure for a long period of time; now being uncovered in the 21st century. Social media not only have uncovered bad actions of some police officers, it has motivated the public to follow the outcome of the incident. Although cases like Walter Scott in South Carolina and Jordan Davis in Florida where the outcomes include indictment of the bad police officers, there were more cases where the public opinion stated there was no justice served. Some of the mistrials and the not guilty verdicts in recent times include: Wayne Isaac who killed Delrawn Small and was acquitted in 2017, Jason Stockley who killed Anthony Lamar and was acquitted in 2017, Betty Shelby who killed Terence Crutcher and was acquitted in 2017, Ray Tensing who killed Samuel DuBose and was let go after a mistrial in 2017. Non-indictments cases include: Howie Lake and Blane Salamoni who killed Alton Sterling in 2016, Bryan Mason who killed Tyre King a 13-year-old, Matt Kenny who killed Tony Robinson, and Daniel Pantaleo who held Eric Garner in a chokehold before his death. Other cases such as Tamir Rice in Ohio, John Crawford in Ohio, and Philando Castile in Minnesota are other examples of popular cases that resulted in non-indictments, acquittals, or not guilty. The rise of the Black Lives Movement that was created by the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin has not changed the minds and hearts of most jurors who choose to vote not guilty or decline to press charges against police officers.
The strategies and efforts to reduce police brutality in the US focus on the institutionalized and subculture of the police system. There is also the unusual psychology that manifests its self in people who have complete authority over others. Suggestions have been made on possible solutions that can be implemented to address this challenge such as including body cameras on the officers and the creation of civilian review boards. Different policies have been recommended to address the issue of police brutality such as the use of body-worn cameras (Stalcup ; Hahn, 2016). The theory of this approach is the fact that the officer will most likely fail to indulge in any form of misconduct if they are aware that their actions are being recorded. The Department of Justice in the US has supplied funds for body cameras to be implemented in different police departments. Studies show that the use of the body cameras recorded reduced use of force by police officers against civilians. The idea behind this policy is for the law enforcement officer to have the camera on from the time they get the call about an incident to when the incident is completed (Stalcup ; Hahn, 2016).
Nonetheless, this strategy has been crowded by controversy since it is founded on the whether the police officer is trustworthy or not. It raises the questions whether the officer will properly use the device such as their ability to turn it on when required and at what point they turn it off (Stalcup ; Hahn, 2016). A suggestion to have the police officer record their entire shift as opposed to them turning on and off the record button during an encounter would result in large volumes of data and increased costs that are difficult to manage and implement. One of the notable solutions to this challenge is to develop real-time storage technology for the body cameras which reduces those chances of the officer manipulating the footage. The cameras, in this case, will send real-time information that can easily be analyzed. This will increase accountability and help to hold the officer answerable for their actions. Conversely, this can also have adverse effects on the privacy of the civilians since the recordings can be used to determine dangerous individuals and suspect innocent ones.
Other solutions include the radical diversification of different police departments to address the challenge of racism, it is imperative that police officers receive extensive training to adequately handle challenging situations with civilians, they ought to be randomly and routinely tested for steroids and substance abuse that impairs their decision-making skills, rogue officers should be fired by addressing the bias and secrecy that characterize police departments, policing for profit should be banned, more women police officers ought to be included in the police force since women are less brutal, more professional, and just as effective as men, encourage the police officers to live near the areas of their jurisdiction since it’s difficult to mistreat individuals that one is already familiar with as opposed to strangers, the justice system can also decriminalize petty offenses and mental illnesses that mainly affect the black community and gets most individuals killed, the good police officers can help solve the problem by speaking out about their rogue colleagues, and different police departments need to create and enforce reasonable use of force standards. Finally, civilian review boards can be used to make sure that police officers are effectively performing their duties and creating a reliable relationship with the public. Nonetheless, most civilian boards are staffed with police officers, lack the authority to order investigations, and lack funding.
Police brutality in the US is a serious and dangerous challenge mainly because no matter what the officer does, even if the violence is against a child, they rarely face criminal charges or any jail time. The justice system needs to address the growing trend in the number of victims of police brutality and come up with viable solutions. This paper critically provides an analysis of the current issues with police brutality in the US. It discusses different examples that received widespread recognition of the use of excessive force by the police. Leaders in the criminal justice field have implemented body cameras on the officers and the creation of civilian review boards as possible solutions to reduce excessive use of force, but it has not stopped it completely. It is the Christian way to do justice the righteous way. In Proverbs 21:15, we can read “It is a joy for the just to do justice, but destruction will come to the workers of iniquity” (The Bible – NKJV). This bible passage is reinforced by looking at some of the bad apples in the police force who have committed injustices, have paid a high price. Police brutality is a systematic human rights violation that should be addressed, and officers brought to justice to stop the continued violence.
Current Issues with Police Brutality in the US