Police Brutality Issues

Police Brutality

Lately, the police have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. On numerous occasions, their acts have given the media and the public a wrong image of their conduct. Excessive force is one of the most common forms of police misconduct. Police often use unwarranted force when they reasonably and objectively fear for their safety or that of their partner’s. There have been numerous reports where the police have shot and killed innocent people simply because they reached for something or they were in the wrong place. For example, in 2015, a police officer fatally shot an unarmed motorist, Walter Scott, in South Carolina who he had initially stopped because one of his brake lights was broken. Such cases have been rampant over the past few years with the public also seemingly asking more questions now more than ever.

Police also use physical force which involves the use of baton strikes, chokeholds and other physical attacks on people or suspects. For example, in March 1991, a video surfaced of the LAPD repeatedly beating a taxi driver, Rodney King, after a hot pursuit in the streets of Los Angeles. This Scenario shocked many, and it left a bad impression of the police.

People have lost their lives at the hands of the police, and the trend is not about to change anytime soon. While on their normal patrols, police also tend to approach certain neighborhoods with caution which is understandable as some of them are dangerous. However, in some situations, their judgment has fallen short, and the result is another innocent person dead. For example, in 1999, a vendor was confronted by police officers outside his home and later killed as he was reaching for his wallet. Apparently, the police thought he was reaching for his gun and therefore, fired a couple of shots at him.

The issue of race has always been at the center of most police brutality cases. In the United States, it is reported that the police kill more black people than any other race which to some pundits is no coincidence. In California, for example, between 2004 and 2008, a greater percentage of people shot by the police were from the African American community. Such statistics have always left a bad taste in the mouths of the African Americans who often feel targeted.

Despite the above reports, only one in a thousand police officers who shoot and kill someone in the United States ever face criminal charges. Many of these police brutality incidents end up unreported usually because the victims feel powerless and ashamed. Coincidentally, the jury doesn’t indict police officers after these brutality cases. In most scenarios, the jury rules the killings justified. As a result, many police officers rarely face consequences for their misconduct. However, after a public protest, the jury returns indictments against some of the officers and gives them their sentence.

The main similarity in the above examples is that the victims are not influential or wealthy people in the society. Essentially, the police do not shoot or brutalize the wealthy people in the society. They are not likely to shoot someone who they perceive as powerful. They tend to choose their victims carefully. As indicated above, the police often go for the unarmed blacks and natives, the poor and sometimes the disabled since they are most likely unable to defend themselves. Furthermore, the police commit other forms of brutality against people when they feel they can get away with their misbehavior.

The leading impulsive factor in police killings is suspicious behavior. Police tend to kill individuals who they scrutinize to be conducting themselves suspiciously. They expect people to be conducting themselves and live the way their fellow human beings are living. The most common justification the police give after their misconduct is that they felt threatened. Most victims are shot whenever they tend to reach out for something or whenever they make any body movement. Some die only because they are guilty while most die when reaching for their personal belongings such as identification materials, licensed firearms and authorization documents.

Policies cannot control what happens in the heads and hearts of police officers. A police officer may shoot an individual and one may not know the reasons as to why he or she did so. Police brutality gives a bad impression of the police to the media and the public at large. A significant portion of the public views their actions as an abuse of power since they only seem to believe that harsh treatment and massive killings as the only forms of punishment. Most people in the society, especially children may grow up detesting them and even view them as the least source of assistance.

In conclusion, although cases of police brutality are always there, strategies can be offered to prevent it. The use of body-worn cameras will enable police officers to conduct themselves accordingly since they understand that each of their actions is being recorded. Police will use less force on civilians when they have body cameras on. Civilian review boards also minimize cases of police brutality in that they help in making sure that the police are doing their job and are working to improve their image. While we strive to remain optimistic, it is crucial to understand that it will take time and a collective effort for this matter to be resolved completely.

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