Police officers are given authority to maintain law and order, which is necessary to human life, but when they use disproportionate force to the point that it becomes unrealistic to law interpreters, it becomes violent. If a criminal’s arrest results in grievous bodily harm, both mentally and, in most situations, physically, it’s critical that the officers’ actions are evaluated against their expectations to to what degree they went beyond their boundaries. Since cops operate in a variety of conditions and situations, it’s reasonable to examine cases separately and determine if the force used was excessive in order to prevent public misperceptions (Alpert & Dunham, 2016). Documented incidents that lie in the category of police brutality include beating unarmed civilian in a lawful protest or other, racial discrimination in line of justice, unjustified shooting, rape, deadly choking and manhandling. This essay will review incidents, factors influencing and the prevalence of police brutality as reported by various peer reviewed journal articles.
History of police brutality dates back to policing times in the eighteenth century and continues to be reported to date in the United States of America. In 1872, the Chicago tribune reported police assaulting a civilian along Haririson Street (Wolfe & Nix, 2016). Initially, labor strikes were controlled by use of nightsticks. Although most cases are unreported and few featuring in headlines dismissed as misconstrued (Fitzgerald, 2007). With time the type of force involved has evolved and the increased reporting is attributed to increased public awareness of their constitutional rights.
Since powers of the police rely largely on force they possess Klahm & Tillyer (2010) attempted to understand the situations where force is likely to be used. They documented that, in the pursuit of armed suspect, profane language was likely to be used and is intuitive to use force. The inherent danger that a suspect in possession of a weapon pose to the officer was related to forceful reaction in bid to disarm. While female police have been documented to trying verbal coercion in such scenarios, male counterparts would aim a shot at whoever brandishes a gun on them. Another situation is instance where suspects resist arrest. A running suspect might have to be immobilized and the eventuality of a verbose suspect is similar. Police characteristics such as race, education and gender were also evaluated empirically in this journal where a positive correlation was found between likelihood of race to influence use of force. White police were implicated in biased arrest of black people by sixty five percent (Klahm & Tillyer, 2010). The understanding of use of force amongst police points out to circumstances that are likely to turn brutal (Fitzgerald, 2007).
From the aforementioned correlation of race and police brutality it may not be as startling to read the New York Times article where a white policeman Lieutenant Abbott threatened a black woman that they only kill black people (Hauser & Fortin, 2017). Trial of the implicated police officers did not lead to conviction which culminated in riots where police brutality lead to death of over 50 civilians. In public interest the case was appealed leading to imprisonment of involved police. Desmond, Papachristos, & Kirk, 2016, documented 911 emergency calls from black neighborhoods reduced by a third of the total calls after beating of Jude in Milwaukee due to decreased public trust. The reduction in police reporting was also witnessed in the same neighborhood in 2012 after police opened fire and killed a 17 year old Trayvon. In all these incidents, there was a significant reduction in crime reporting in black neighborhoods. This severely impact on crime control given that people fear the police and would rather hush than expose their own to be mutilated in search for justice. Such legal cynicism destroys police-citizen relationship and reduces cooperation. Over 60% of prisoners are black and Latinos charged mostly with traffic offenses and drug trafficking and two thirds of this complain of racial profiling excessive force in their arrest and at least one third attempted to file assault.
Gender based inclination and sexual harassment is the most common form of police brutality reported by women. Profane words discrediting women as low individuals in the society has been reported by civil rights activist. A touch in the private parts is dreaded amongst women. In July 2017, a woman was shot in her Pajamas. Whether rape was by a police officer or reported to them, Department of justice has noted that only about 17% of rape cases get to be reported and convicted (Nir, 2017). Detectives have called rape victims whores and only destroying the life of culprit involved. This demoralizes the victims. It has also been reported that male police are likely to shoot their wives in domestic wrangles. The most serious incidents are where police have been implicated to rape and such is the Brookyln case where detectives allegedly raped an eighteen year suspect in their custody (Nir, 2017).
With the increased militarization of police, various scholars have dug deeper and discovered factors influencing police brutality. Political influence in deployment is one of the major factors (Alpert & Dunham, 2016). Although police are guided by a code of conduct, the commander in chief of the armed forces enjoys undoubted allegiance by the police. In the event that protests have been condemned by the highest office in a country, the police will use all their strength to curb it. Sometimes a perception is drawn that an enemy is dangerous and a shoot to kill order is issued hence no negotiations are allowed in such encounters. President Donald Trump is on spotlight for instructing police not to be too gentle to criminals (Hauser & Fortin, 2017).
There is overwhelming evidence above for police brutality hence needs to curb it through means such as proper police training and public education. Dealing with police brutality is inevitable due to public outcry and impact on justice. Human beings have inherent rights which are constitutionally protected and police are sworn to protect (Alpert & Smith, 1994). Right to life and fair trial are violated when fatal shooting is used in pursuing suspects. Where fear is intensified in injurious interrogative techniques, a suspect may choose to accept allegations to avoid suffering even when they did not commit an offence whereas the real offender could be out walking scot free (Fitzgerald, 2007). Emphasis of civilian rights in line of duty is therefore important. Another strategy is video coverage of officers in patrol. Since the extent of force used can only be justified by police oversight, evidence of scenes arousing contention can be analyzed well from body cameras submission than sworn affidavit by suspect (Alpert & Smith, 1994). Furthermore, police training needs to emphasize more on use of nonviolent means in dealing with suspects. Candidates with history of racial prejudice and violent tendancies should be disqualified from police recruitment.
Due to increase in police brutality cases, this paper discussed the definition and incidences of the same including battering suspects, unjustified shooting and rape. Apart from giving instances where such excessive forces among police, facts from journal articles have been discussed in bid to understand the topic of police brutality. Amongst measures contemplated, police training has been emphasized as a way of reducing such use of heinous acts.
Alpert, G. P., & Dunham, R. G. (2016). Police Use of Force: The History of Research. Understanding Police Use of Force, 17-53. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511499449.002
Alpert, G. P., & Smith, W. C. (1994). How Reasonable Is the Reasonable Man?: Police and Excessive Force. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-), 85(2), 481. doi:10.2307/1144107
Desmond, M., Papachristos, A. V., & Kirk, D. S. (2016). Police Violence and Citizen Crime Reporting in the Black Community. American Sociological Review, 81(5), 857-876. doi:10.1177/0003122416663494
Fitzgerald, S. (2007). Police brutality. Detroit: Greenhaven Press/Thomson Gale.
Hauser, C., & Fortin, J. (2017, August 31). â��We Only Kill Black People,â�� Police Officer Says During Traffic Stop – The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/31/us/black-kill-police-georgia.html
Klahm, & Tillyer. (2010). Understanding Police Use of Force: A Review of the Evidence. Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice, 7(2), 214-239. Retrieved from http://www.swacj.org/swjcj/archives/7.2/Klahm%20and%20Tillyer%20Article%20(5).pdf
Nir, S. M. (2017, October 1). Brooklyn Prosecutors Investigating Rape Charge Against Detectives – The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/01/nyregion/nypd-detectives-accused-of-raping-teen.html
Wolfe, S. E., & Nix, J. (2016). The alleged Ferguson Effect and police willingness to engage in community partnership. Law and Human Behavior, 40(1), 1-10. doi:10.1037/lhb0000164