Police Brutality: A Growing Problem Essay Example
Police Brutality: A Growing Problem Essay Example

Police Brutality: A Growing Problem Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1364 words)
  • Published: July 14, 2021
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Police Brutality has become something of a concern in the eye of the public. It seems as though we see a story about police brutality and issues with the police killing people approximately every month now. Many people are afraid to be pulled over by police, stopped by them, followed, questioned or approached. This is prominent in the communities of minorities more so than any other group of people. With some of this being racially motivated or biased, the people tasked with protecting and serving us have therefore been painted in a ba light. The bad press spotlighted on those supposed to protect us needs to be taken as a signal flag. This signal flag is meant to symbolize the need to facilitate change and usher in measures so that this trend decreases and law enforcement can be trusted again.


We need to be unafraid of the men and women of a force formed to safeguard our lives. It is time to bring the praise and peace of mind that should come with our thoughts of police back to the front of public opinion.

To understand the problem and take the proper steps to action to combat this problem, we must first understand the problem to its core. This includes the background, definition, and history of police brutality. According to author Andrew Walter of “Police Brutality: Overview”, police brutality is the use of excessive physical force, including beating citizens with hands or batons, or using stun guns (such as Tasers), teargas, and even lethal weapons.” This exact definition is the very thing that society sees today that scares them into the paranoia of law enforcement. This

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type of brutality has been traced to 17th and 18th century France, and has stemmed from other political issues such as the labor strikes, civil rights movement, and the war on drug and terrorism. Walter describes a case of this that happened more recently, he says:

“In more recent history, the severe beating of Rodney King at the hands of several members of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 1991, videotaped by a bystander, led to rioting across Los Angeles. After being confronted by police after a car chase, King, an African American, was severely beaten with batons and kicked and punched by a group of officers. In all, King was hit with a stun gun, received over fifty baton blows, and was kicked and punched several times. In 1992, after three of the officers involved were acquitted in state court on excessive force charges, citizens began to riot in Los Angeles, eventually causing dozens of deaths and thousands of injuries. The Rodney King beating brought the issue of police brutality into the homes of all Americans and led to a number of studies and investigations into why police brutality occurs and how it can be stopped.”

As Walter stated, this case was arguably one of the first that awakened a flame in people all across the globe and particularly in the United States. It started the drive to debate, progress, and ultimately the ongoing search for reform. As we can imagine this type of brutality has detrimental effects and portrays misinterpretations of the view of law enforcement and their role in the community. In “Police Brutality and Black Health:Setting the Agenda for Public Health Scholars”,

Authors (Alang et. al) state that “It is police conduct that is not merely mistaken, but taken in bad faith, with the intent to dehumanize and degrade its target.” To further the understanding, Alang et. al also state “Excessive use of physical violence constitutes brutality. But as others have noted, brutality goes beyond physical force. It includes emotional and sexual violence as well as verbal assault and psychological intimidation.” According to German Lopez, author of the article “American police shoot and kill far more people than their peers in other countries” from Vox.com says “Police officers in the US shoot and kill hundreds of people each year, according to the FBI’s very limited data — far more than other developed countries like the UK, Japan, and Germany, where police officers might go an entire year without killing more than a dozen people or even anyone at all.” One explanation for this was a study done by The American Journal of Public Health in the article showing their findings “ every 10 percent increase in firearm ownership correlated with 10 additional officers killed at the state level over a 15-year period.” A second analysis from the “Small Arms Survey” used in the same article added to these findings by asserting “Estimated for 2017, the number of civilian-owned firearms in the US was 120.5 guns per 100 residents, meaning there were more firearms than people.” Americans are not only afraid of the police, but some have also expressed mistrust in the justice system put in place to guide them, punish people who break the law, and keep us safe and give us a sense of just that:

justice. This very system is one that they citizens feel does not treat them equally. Emily Ekins, author of “Policing in America: Understanding Public Attitudes Toward the Police. Results from a National Survey”, says that “Americans do not believe the US Justice System treats everyone equally. Nearly half (49%) of Americans say “most” police officers think they are “above the law.” 46% also say police are “generally not” held accountable for misconduct.”

The US has therefore developed a notorious reputation for this henious act having reported far more incidents than any other part of the Western World. Minorities are a lot more likely to be subject to police brutality especially if they are unarmed. Author of “Killing Fields: Explaining Police Violence against Persons of Color” James M Jones explains “Every year, roughly 1,000 people are lethally shot by the police—about 10% of whom are unarmed, and 40–50% of these are racial and ethnic minorities—thus the urgency of this volume. The violence stretches beyond officer-involved shootings to being put to death. Since 1976, there have been 1,392 executions under death penalty statutes in 32 states, among which 56% were White, 35% were Black, and 8% were Hispanic. In 2011, 478 in every 100,000 White men were incarcerated. That number was 3,023 for Black men (six times more than White men), and 1,238 for Hispanic men (2.5 times more than White men).” Several factors have been associated with these statistics, Jones says some include “stop and frisk scenarios, three strike laws, and even stand your ground laws.” He argues stand your ground laws also support lethal force and legitimate fear as a defense. Differences in attitude, and behaviors

toward the police are also candidates for differential outcomes for people of color.” Another study done by Mora A. Reinka and Colin Wayne Leach, authors of “Race and Reaction: Divergent Views of Police Violence and Protest against”, corraborates these figures with a similar study and research providing the following statement “In an analysis of public records and media, the Washington Post estimated that 60% of the 965 people shot and killed by police in 2015 were unarmed Blacks and Latinos. More specifically, unarmed Black men were seven times more likely to be killed by police than unarmed white men.” Given the numerous numbers of cases of seemingly unnecessar uses of force by law eforcement in cases like those of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and Michael Brown and Eric Gardner in 2014 being portrayed so heavily in the media, it is not surprising how according to Reinka and Leach “Black Americans oppose the illegal use of deadly force by police more strongly than do Whites. Black Americans also report greater mistrust of, and worse attitudes toward, law enforcement in general than do their White counterparts (Reinka and Leach, 2017).” Reinka and Leach express, “Since the outrage in 2012, the United States has seen a renewed focus on police killings of racial and ethnic minorities, as well as protest against such violence. Moreover, recent polling data show an intensification of long-standing differences in Black and White Americans’ attitudes toward police violence and protest.”

The recently increased focus on and intensification of the killings of minorities should prove to be a very apparent motive to start working toward solutions and methods to correct the problem. One of the methods

being utilized is the structurig and implementation of community based policing projects.

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