United States police play a very important role in the lives of U.S. citizens today. Their duty is to serve and protect us from harm, but often times this may not be the case. Americans are made to believe that these officers will serve and protect us, when in all reality police are more interested in enforcing the law and making arrests. The police often overstep their authority and begin acting as if they are above the law. Police brutality has become an ongoing topic amongst American citizens for quite some time now. Police often use excessive force physically, which often times results in death or severe injury to citizens. Police have been violating the human right of peaceful assembly, and have often times let race become a main factor in which the officer will use in engaging in enforcement. The use of wearable cameras can help eliminate the injustice, or at least the officers whom continue the violence.
When Americans think of police the first thing that often times comes to mind is fear. The police are supposed to protect and serve, but are more likely just to over enforce the law and make as many arrests as they can. Many officers also use racial profiling against people, this is demonstrated in some of the most recent white cop/ black man shootings. Black males ages 15 to 19 died at the hands of police at a rate 21 times the rate of white males of the same age. (Lott Jr., 2014) Some people may argue that police don’t use racial profiling because the rate of crime is higher in black men. Among blacks, teenage crime is much more of a problem. Black male teenagers were nine times more likely to commit murders than similarly aged white males, not two to three times as likely. (Lott Jr., 2014) Police officers will shoot an unarmed suspect, and or disable the suspect by using a taser gun. On September 14, 2013, Jonathan A. Ferrell was shot and killed by North Carolina police officer Randall Kerrick after a wreck in Charlotte, N.C. Ferrell was unarmed.
Police said Kerrick was charged with voluntary manslaughter. (AP/Florida A&M University) That night Jonathan Ferrell knocked on the door of a woman after he was allegedly involved in a car accident. The woman called the police and made a report, the police who were responding to the call found Ferrell nearby. The report stated that Ferrell ran towards the officers, who tried to stop him with a taser. The police then stated that Ferrell continues to run toward them, when officer Randall Kerrick fired his gun, hitting Ferrell several times. Ferrell died at the scene. A police statement Saturday said the investigation showed the shooting was excessive and “Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.” (Press, 2013)
With the rise of police brutality and fatality of U.S. citizens Americans are protesting against this violence. People have a right to assemble together to promote and protect human rights through peaceful protest or the expression of their views. States have a responsibility to ensure that people are able to demonstrate peacefully and express their views without facing threats, intimidation or violence. (Humanrightshouse.org, 2014)
In some states, police officers are becoming introduced to new technology to help record the interaction between the officer and the suspects. A wearable camera is worn on the front of an officer and not only records video, but also audio. This will help properly document what happens during conversation, contact and situations that may involve weapons. It is currently unknown how many police departments are actually using this camera on a regular basis, but this technology is being considered to become used in a way to perhaps alter the course of events in places such as Ferguson, Mo., where an officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. (Mims, 2014) So far the use of this technology has proved to be effective according to Mims, In the first year the use of force by officers declined 60%, and citizen complaints against police fell 88%. (Mims, 2014) Although there are cons concerning this technology including the price of not only the device but that of the storage to be used to store the footage captured.
The current price of a device can vary from $300 to $400 dollars, not including the storage and management of the generated data. These are all reasons that Michael White, a professor of criminology at Arizona State University, says the cameras, now a curiosity, could soon be ubiquitous. It has happened before: Taser’s guns went from introduction to use by more than two-thirds of America’s 18,000 police departments in about a decade. “It could be as little as 10 years until we see most police wearing these,” (Mims, 2014)
In conclusion, something needs to be done to protect citizens. Strengthening the policies and using less lethal force weapons, along with proper documentation and proof of what really happens at the crime scene will greatly reduce the number of complaints filed against police. By police being required to wear a wearibal camera/audio device the percents of brutality has already reduced. Police are here to serve and protect us and it is about time they step up and do just that. Police are not above the law, they need to suffer more consequences for their actions, then maybe the brutality will stop.
Humanrightshouse.org, (2014). Human Rights House Network » HRHN » Why? » The right to peaceful assembly. [Online] Available at: http://humanrightshouse.org/HRHN/Why_/The_right_to_peaceful_assembly/index.html [Accessed 27 Oct. 2014]. Lott Jr., J. (2014). The truth about young black men and police shootings. [Online] Fox News. Available at: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/22/truth-about-young-black-men-and-police-shootings/ [Accessed 27 Oct. 2014]. Mims, C. (2014). What Happens When Police Officers Wear Body Cameras. [Online] WSJ. Available at: http://online.wsj.com/articles/what-happens-when-police-officers-wear-body-cameras-1408320244 [Accessed 27 Oct. 2014]. Press, A. (2013). North Carolina police officer charged with shooting unarmed man. [Online] Fox News. Available at: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/16/north-carolina-police-officer-charged-with-shooting-unarmed-man/ [Accessed 27 Oct. 2014].