Unfortunately, nowadays the people who are supposed to protect us and help us when we are in need, sometimes cannot be trusted. Police brutality has always been a problem, but there’s been a dramatic rise in police murders and brutalization of citizens. Police Brutality is anything from harassment from a police officer to being murdered by one.Police officers risk their lives everyday they put on their uniform. They serve the community by keeping it safe from those who break the law. Police are trained to use force when necessary and to have discretion on how much force to use on someone. The tactics they use are to apprehend a criminal, and to keep those who are around a criminal, safe. Officers carry weapons such as a baton, mace, or a gun. These weapons are to keep themselves and the communities they serve safe.
Sometimes officers who are either not properly trained or who neglect to use the appropriate amount of force on a suspect, can suffer the consequences of police brutality. “Police brutality is a civil rights violation that occurs when a police officer acts with excessive force by using an amount of force with regards to a civilian that is more than necessary. Excessive force by a law enforcement officers is a violation of a person’s rights. Force should be used in only the minimum amount needed to achieve a purpose. Police brutality is a direct violation of the laws within the police force. The use of excessive force is also a direct violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S Constitution regarding cruelty and protection of the laws”(definitions.uslegal.com).
One of the major causes of police brutality is stress. Each day, police officers have to deal with the fact that their lives are within their own hands and being that they are thought of as the enemy by a criminal they feel the need to protect themselves at any cost. An officer may feel threatened and might not know his or her own strength, therefore they might do anything to protect themselves if they feel threatened. The stress of being a cop can lead to other issues other than police brutality. The amount of stress of their job is so high it can affect them in various ways later in life. “The extreme stress and pressure placed on police officers has caused an increasing numbers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder cases, alcoholism, suicide, early retirement, breakdowns and burnout being reported by police officers across the country”(www.essortment.com). Another cause of police brutality is simply abuse of power. Not all cops break the rules, but not all cops follow them.
Police brutality can be any of the following acts; “profane or abusive language, commands to move or go home, field stops and searches, threats of implied violence, prodding with a nightstick or approaching with a pistol, the actual use of physical force”(www.policecrimes.com). Racism is also a major cause of police brutality. The most famous of all police brutality cases is, of course, Rodney King’s case. On March 3, 1991, four Los Angeles police officers beat Rodney King as eleven other officers stood by watching. Rodney King was in a high-speed car chase with the officers, when his car was finally stopped, he hesitated to get out of his car. When he did, he was said to jump at the officers. He was hit by two darts from a stun gun, which didn’t seem to work. Rodney King still refused to obey the officers and lie flat on the ground.
But, in less than two minutes, he was hit with 56 baton blows and kicked six times. He suffered from eleven skull fractures, brain damage, broken bones, knocked out teeth and kidney damage. Also, emotional and physical trauma. Not in all cases are the victims of police brutality innocent, obviously, as you can see in Rodney King’s case (law.umkc.edu)But no matter how rude or uncooperative a suspect is being, this extreme force from officers should not be used. Racism has always been and always be around. The fact that it is policing is evident through such acts as these. Sometimes these harmful acts go overlooked by departments, either because of they do not want the publicity, the department might not know what actually happened, or they simply do not care.
Racism is not just against African Americans, all minorities are at risk for being the victim of a cop’s believes or disbelieves. Another reason police brutality happens is some officers believe that it’s necessary to come down hard on those who resist arrest because they may kill the next police officer who tries to arrest them so you have to teach them a lesson. “Another practice is the “screen test”, police jargon for applying the brakes on a police vehicle to that the handcuffed prisoner in back will be thrown against the metal protective screen”(www.policecrimes.com).
When an officer breaks the law and victimizes a person he or she will should be punished and depending on the case they should face suspension, job termination, or even jail time. Those whose rights have been violated often receive large amounts of money in out of court settlements, which means the taxpayer is paying for authorities’ right to abuse their power . Cops who have committed these acts usually face no serious prosecution, if any at all. So far, of all the documented murders since 1977, only one officer has been convicted of homicide. Any man that kills another, for no matter what reason, should have to face consequences.
Anyone can become a victim of police brutality, but the most common are minorities, juveniles, and low class citizens. Minorities are victimized because of their skin color and the believes of the officer they encounter. The fact that officers target minorities has been known for decades. Many races are still not accepted by people today. Juveniles can also become targets of the police. Young adults often find themselves in tough situations getting in trouble with the law. They struggle to find a sense of self and often look to crime as an easy way out. An officer might target a young adult assuming he or she is up to no good, judging solely by the way they carry themselves. Low class citizens often do not have the money for a good lawyer so even if they were victimized they have no one to turn to for help. They most likely do not have guidance on how to properly seek justice they rightfully deserve. Also in most cases, unless there is physical evidence, police misconduct is often one side of the story against another.
In order to prevent police from using unnecessary amount of force on citizens there must be an understanding of each other’s position on society. Although a beating from a police officer may not be the victims fault, there are some ways to try and prevent from being a part of a traumatic experience. When an officer does not feel threatened he or she is less likely to become frantic and full of adrenaline which would make the confrontation with him or her less dangerous and beneficial to both the cop and the civilian.
The number of cases of police brutality is not as high as the years of the civil rights act, but there is still a need for a way to help fix the problem. Not every case is known to the public and reported. Department’s need to properly train officers to deal with certain situations properly. While they might not be perfect when it comes to hiring, they should keep a close eye on those who they hire to make sure any officer hired doesn’t have a different personality when on duty. A personality that would be dangerous to those who surround him or her. Hopefully there will be a system in the future that will help minimize the chances of police brutality.
1.) Above the Law: Police and the Excessive Use Of Force by: Jerome H. Skolnick, James J. Fyfe 1994. Published by: The Free Press, New York. 2.) Definitions.uslegal.com
Courtney from Study Moose