The law gives the police the right to employ legitimate force whenever necessary to ensure apprehension and to maintain peace and order. Indeed, the law grants the police officers the privilege of employing non-negotiable force to control the behavior of citizens and guarantee public order (HMH, 2016).
However, the amount of appropriate force to be used in different situations remains negotiable. When police use extreme force, he/she breaches the law. Normally, deliberate and conscious police brutality happens towards suspects, typically from a helpless social-group such as homosexuals or racial minorities.
Many are the times that the police brutality ends up unreported. Supposedly, the police force serves and safeguards the people. However, it seems like many usually take advantage of whatever power they possess to undermine the American citizens. Cases involving police brutality happen throughout the globe, and the issue has turned into a major among communities and police institutions (HMH, 2016). The brutality assembles from physical attacks and non-physical cruelty which consists of the use of spoken language. Therefore, the topic remains sensitive and of major concern, as it continues to tear apart the trust between police officers and civilians; this keeps breaking the country. This paper aims to discuss police brutality issues on how it relates to racism, its major themes and the solutions to the issue.
Race and Police Brutality
The intense police brutality issue, plus incidences of officers defying civil rights extensively covers the media headlines. Many people get killed annually by officers, and quite a good number of these cases raise key police brutality issues. Frequently, the cases involve a white police officer with an African-American crook encounter. Again, other marginalized communities like the Indian-Americans and Hispanic also suffer the officer brutality; this suggests that the minorities majorly experience rough police treatment. It is important to understand that police violence is not identical to discrimination against a specific racial group. Nevertheless, the police officer repeatedly racially profiles a certain African American. One cannot ignore the connection that police brutality has to racial profiling.
Most police cruelty is pointed against marginal groups who are otherwise powerless individuals. For instance, some police officers automatically consider racial minority society members as capably dangerous despite their specific attire, gestures, or activities. Such opinion of ethnic minority communities as trouble occasionally translates into ethnically discriminatory officer behavior. Through some high profile questionable force uses incidences, the painful memories of such injustices come back to life. For example, a police officer in Missouri, Ferguson, shot Michael Brown 12 times while Brown was unarmed; this was after Brown matched a description of the theft suspect of a close by store (Fryer, 2016). Likewise, Eric Garner, who was unarmed, was choked to death during arrest as officers believed Garner was single cigarettes with no tax stamps (Fryer, 2016).
In 2015, officers killed about 1139 individuals residing in the US while more than 25 percent of the victims of officers’ brutality were African-American (Kennedy, 2016). The number is unbalanced to the national Black population. Statistically, the African-Americans are considerably additionally expected to lose their lives at the police officers compared to the Whites, Asian-Americans, and Latino. Again, among the murdered individuals by the officers, the black victims are above twice likely as the white targets to be unarmed during their death. The issue of discriminatory officer brutality is not new within the US. However, lately revived protests plus the human rights movement fighting for Blacks and other marginal communities expose the unfairness into the eye of the public. Regardless of the increasing recognition of the issue, officers are rarely held responsible for their brutal actions. Biased and unnecessary force used by the officers violates the duty of the country under the global law to protect and respect to security and life rights of individuals, to freedom from subjective detention, cruel and torture, degrading and inhuman treatment, and to fairness before the law.
Police violence affects individuals in different ways founded on both their race and their socioeconomic standing, sexual orientation, gender identity and many more characteristics. Interconnecting bias forms and structural biases mix each other, intensifying rights violations. Cities with the highest police brutality profile like Maryland and Baltimore, posses economic inequality histories that are related to racial lines directly in portion to open government rules and in portion to clear social dynamics plus institutionalized racism (Kennedy, 2016). Again, about quarter all individuals deadly shot by officers within 2015 exhibited mental illness signs (Kennedy, 2016). A 2011 national study reports that 60 percent of all black transsexual persons who intermingled with police testified encountering harassment or sexual or physical assault, more than 24 percent of white transsexual individuals (Kennedy, 2016). Usually, the Blacks mingle with the officers more frequently compared to the Whites living in other parts; this is contributed by the greater officer activity or presence within the low-income town neighborhoods that are excessively occupied by the Blacks.
The race has a great influence on how the law enforcers handle the African-American. The issue has been a systematic characterization of the African communities and every of its establishment. Assigning of marginal communities to police with little or even no social contact with the community members continue to worsen the police brutality situation (Edwards, 2016). The assigned officers usually lack particular training on how to effectively interrelate within such an environment. Most of the time the assigning of the police officers sometimes convey stereotypes or negative attitudes to the communities; these can unfavorably affect police fairness plus the justice of their enforcement deeds. The US police forces have historically performed key roles in ensuring positional control for Whites; this situation results in the creation of an extremely challenging gap between rising above whenever the police departments try to execute community policing plans. The drug war had its primary focus on minority societies like African-Americans where stop-and-freeze officer protocol regularly subjected many harmless minorities to the searches; this intensified the marginalization feelings and antagonism with the officers (Edwards, 2016). Indeed, the negative perceptions of police officers in America by the minority communities have historical roots.
Major Themes of Police Brutality
Police excess force use has received remarkable press coverage yet; unfortunately, this does not correlate to positive change. Statistics report that police brutality murders have increased. In 2016, 963 deadly officers’ shootings were reported; this, however, rose to 987 causalities in 2017 and 778 deaths in 2018 (Elazab, 2018). The spike of the issue remains worrisome for individuals across the US making many to question the main source of the increase and how to end it. Although not all fatal shootings comprise of police violence, the majority of them do. The rise in lethal officers’ shootings causes many to presume that officers are turning more prone to use of fatal force during circumstances where slighter force may have appropriately worked. Unluckily, police brutality statistics are specifically challenging to track, especially because of inadequate police accountability.
The national courts charge officers in below one percent of the killings, yet civilian accusation rate is 90 percent (Elazab, 2018). Excessive police force use has become the most widespread police misconduct form with many African-American shoot dead while unarmed. Despite the police officers demonstrating brutality receive negative evaluation or encounter some outcomes on the work, many deadly officers alterations are eventually ruled favoring the police officers, letting them keep the work although they murdered a defenseless community member or suspect. Undeniably, very few cases that result in officers promptly accused with the killings of the people they murdered. The lack of consequences possibly adds to undeterred police violence instances.
The country looks like it is growing safer. The FBI’s Uniform Reporting system reports decrease in violent crimes percentage, national crime rate decline and reducing property crimes (Keller, 2015). Additionally, the FBI aims to collect extra complete information concerning the shootings relating to police officers. The FBI requests for more records from the local police departments to help dismiss misperceptions, promote accountability, and foster transparency in police ways to interact with the societies they serve. This assists in shaping the rule concerning the relationship between law enforcement and civilians. The method reveals key gaps in how the national government evaluates the police use of force.
Following the rising incidences of police brutality, various police agencies have considerably adopted the use of wearable cameras. In 2017, over 6000 police agencies within the US reported having started utilizing the technology (Braga et al., 2017). Majorly, the implementation technology was in response to risen society criticism following some controversial police force use incidents. Wearable cameras became a potential solution for solving community trust issues and a strategy to raise police accountability.
The wearable cameras bring about a self-awareness effect. Also, the cameras can perform on public-policy communication, the detective and the suspect. The camera works as unbiased third eye, thus influencing both players’ consciousness. Therefore, the camera effect helps to put off the police from responding using extreme or pointless force and also calms down the suspect’s aggressive behavior. Moreover, it assists the police to avoid interpreting the suspect behavior as aggressive when it is truly not. The presence of wearable cameras provides an aspect that restrains the involved parties’ behavior; if the situations are performed on purpose, neither the suspect nor the police desire to be found engaging in publicly undesirable actions that may cause costly consequences (Ariel, Farrar, & Sutherland, 2015). As the camera tapes the encounter, it gets both the officer and the suspect additionally accountable; in return, this probably minimizes the possibility of unnecessary force level.
Primarily, cameras challenge situational dynamics that trigger negative actions of the suspects that can capably cause force police officers’ reactions. Also, wearable cameras force police officers to bear demanding circumstances and perhaps put up with a few disrespect forms that with no cameras he/she would usually not tolerate (Ariel, Farrar, & Sutherland, 2015). Lastly, the camera detects even the acceptable police subcultures; this ensures that the police-public interactions turn out more transparent plus the silence curtain that safeguards misconduct gets easily unveiled thus making misbehavior less likely.
Police officers have the right to utilize legitimate force whenever required to achieve a seizure and to preserve peace. They have a legal license of applying non-negotiable force towards controlling the citizen’s behavior and maintaining public order. Nevertheless, whenever the police employ severe force, the officer disobeys the law. Police brutality keeps intensifying where many unarmed civilians end up facing police cruelty. Such cases often engage white officers violating the rights of an African-American and other marginalized societies. Race greatly determines how police officers handle such communities. Although the police brutality issue has gained considerable press attention, the issue remains challenging and little positive change has been realized. Very few officers receive timely and fair charges with police brutality cases. To solve the issue, the FBI collects detailed data on police brutality cases in an attempt to write off misperceptions, encourage accountability and establish transparency within police work. The use of wearable cameras adds in developing police and suspect accountability by providing self-awareness effect.
Ariel, B., Farrar, W. A., & Sutherland, A. (2015). The effect of police body-worn cameras on use of force and citizens’ complaints against the police: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of quantitative criminology, 31(3), 509-535.
Braga, A., Coldren Jr, J. R., Sousa, W., Rodriguez, D., & Alper, O. (2017). The Benefits of Body-Worn Cameras: new findings from a randomized controlled trial at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police. Washington DC: National Institute of Justice.
Edwards, C. (2016). Race and the Police. Retrieved 5th March 2019 from https://www.policefoundation.org/race-and-the-police/
Elazab, B. (2018). Police Brutality in 2018. Retrieved from https://thriveglobal.com/stories/police-brutality-in-2018/
Fryer, R. (2016). An empirical analysis of racial differences in police use of force. Retrieved from https://www.nber.org/papers/w22399.pdf
HMH. (2016). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Police Brutality. Retrieved from https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/criminal-justice/police-problems/police-brutality
Keller, J. (2015).The FBI Is Finally Taking a Huge Step in Fighting Police Brutality. Retrieved 5th March 2019 from https://psmag.com/news/the-fbi-is-finally-taking-a-huge-step-in-fighting-police-brutality
Kennedy, F, R. (2016). Excessive Use of Force by the Police against Black Americans in the United States. Retrieved 5th March 2019 from https://rfkhumanrights.org/assets/documents/iachr_thematic_hearing_submission_-_excessive_use_of_force_by_police_against_black_americans.pdf167 Likes