Essay on Police Brutality
Number of words: 1670
There are a lot of challenges facing the police management hence affecting the enforcement of the law altogether. There are challenges from recruitment, retention, use of force, i.e., police brutality, among many others. These have necessitated the policy change in the management to embrace the pillars of training, supervision, discipline, policy, and people. This means to be successful, the system must maintain good people, good policy, and have enough training for the police department. There should be proper supervision of workers and discipline when the policy is broken. This paper will focus on police brutality and how it can be addressed as an issue in the criminal justice system. This issue has brought several debates in the United States in recent years hence become a big menace that needs to be addressed.
Police brutality is whereby law enforcement uses force in an unwarranted and excessive manner. These are extreme forms of misconduct and a violation of civil rights. Police brutality can include verbal abuse, physical harm, property damage, lack of action by police to a crime, and in extreme cases, death. (Reiss,1972). Most marginalized communities see the police as oppression rather than people meant to shield them from harm in American society. This is due to the many deaths of people from minority groups. (Mary D,1995). Police officers are only supposed to use a certain amount of force, changing according to the situation. It is not following the law for a police officer to use excessive force. Various departments worldwide have taken it upon themselves to understand why police use too much pressure on people.
One cause of police violence is the gradual sense of authority among law enforcers that makes them think they are above the law. The violence can also be influenced by past traumatic experiences on duty that may lead them to act roughly. It has also been established that some police officers are psychopaths who have no leniency hence use excessive force. The brutality can also be attributed to the deployment of young and inexperienced staff who tend to make mistakes while on duty (Schrivner &Oskamp,1994). There are also pressures to adjust and follow what is commonly known as the police culture, e.g., the Blue code. Blue Code is the term used to show the code of silence among police officers even when a fellow officer has committed a crime. They use these informal codes to help them cover police brutality. The use of force continuum guides police on the amount of force to use when a suspect is not cooperating. However, violence used by police is often not unlawful despite the law allowing it.
Some officers result to vigilantism whereby they believe that a criminal deserves more punishment than what they have received from the government. They feel that it is in their place to execute more sentences which results in police brutality. (Chevigny,1969).
It is, therefore, necessary to eliminate police brutality within law enforcement. This requires proper training and sensitizing the officers to use a minimum amount of force. This can be done by using the code of conduct, such as good stewardship, to enforce its usage. There are numerous issues found in policing as they engage in unethical behaviors. It is a result of practices in the organizational culture. It is thus necessary for police at an individual level to have accountability and ethics. By applying good ethics and rejecting unethical behavior by their colleagues, they can drive morality to the police culture.
The ability to recruit and retain qualified law enforcement officers at all levels has been the biggest challenge in the management of the law enforcement unit. A study done showed that police officers from large cities in the United States such as Chicago, New York, and San Fransico reported that most police officers were leaving the department within their first few months in office. Many of them were taking jobs from other areas. They attributed these to a lack of local support. The effects of police brutality can be felt in various sectors such as health, economy, race, and minority groups. Police brutality that involves the use of too much force can result in the death of n individual.
The victims of police brutality suffer many effects due to the action. They vary from Post Traumatic disorder, anxiety, substance abuse, suicide, and depression. Whenever the victims of police brutality take the issues to court, they often use too many resources and sometimes do not win over the demoralizing cases. The act of police brutality has also been used to fuel racism. Most of these brutal incidents happen to African American people, which steers much hate towards the white police.
A good example is the George Floyd incident in who was murdered by the police in march 2020 (Oriola & Knight,2020). It brought about many protests from the black community justice. The claims were that the police were killing people of color hence racial bias.
Some of the ways to streamline the police department on issues of police brutality include changing the terms of the use of force. Most police departments have been forced to change their use of force rule. For instance, after George Floyd’s death by neck restraint, and the chokehold has been banned in New York City have been forced to rewrite their policies and compel other officers to intervene when there is excessive use of force.
Another way to curb police brutality would be to defund the police. Many people suggest that the funds can be reduced and directed to other areas of the community, such as health and education. The next step would be to dismantle the police. It was to create a new task force that is ready and willing to work under the code of conduct. Others suggest that in the future, it would have been necessary to have a police-free society. It means that anybody ranging from doctors, social workers, religious leaders can do the work of the police. It is believed to reduce the risk of police brutality.
The police also need to be held accountable for their mistakes, i.e., police the police. Those that publicly propagate racist ideas should be fired. Many police work in a closed system whereby if one commits a gross offense, the others have their back. Hence when one has no video evidence on any brutality incident, it becomes hard for criminals to prove. Many people are pushing for police to wear body cameras to record their interactions with the police. However, this might not be effective as body cameras might be shut off during severe incidents. Hence, citizens are urged to record and expose any acts of brutality by the police.
More often than not, citizens who sue the police for excessive force have their cases thrown out due to a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity. The government put the immunity to protect government employees from lawsuits and gives officers a pass if they had no previous record of misconduct. These should be revisited, and police who commit dire atrocities should face the law too.
With increased incidences of police brutality, it is important to recommend the de-escalation of force. De-escalation is how police apply different mechanisms to stop excessive use of force during law enforcement (Todak & James,2018). Such strategies enable both the police and the victims to agree and collaborate. Some factors may influence the ability to de-escalate. They include barriers in communication, i.e., language, poor mental judgment, alcohol and substance abuse, medical conditions, behavior disorder, and disability. Officers are advised to establish boundaries with the target who is uncooperative while carrying out disciplinary measures. They can use subtle body language, alert the victim, ensure they advertise their closeness to the target to protect the person and to enhance visibility.
De-escalation has proved to be very efficient in law enforcement as it has in the greater society. Courts have played a big role in ensuring that police officers adhere to the rules and guidelines set while de-escalating. In order for Descalation to be established, proper preparation, monitoring, and execution should be maintained. Police brutality has been protested by African American citizens and other minority groups who have claimed it has affected them dearly. It is evident in movements such as black lives matter, which protests against police brutality and racial violence. The efforts by the United States to have good stewardship towards law enforcement and the criminal justice system have paid. As good stewards, the police accept the role of serving and nurturing their communities. Ethically, police need to understand that values and principles guide them. They should be committed to serving in fairness and social responsibility. They should also be omitted to do the common good of the community.
In conclusion. there is still a long way to go when it comes to police reforms. There is a need for quality training that will serve as a moral compass for law enforcement. There is also a need to run background checks to ascertain who is being hired and suitable for their position. Lastly, it is important to adopt a wellness program for officers related to suicide prevention, mental health awareness, stress management, among other support needed. More training needs to be done to meet the demand for police reforms
Chevigny, P. (1969). Police power: police abuses in New York City (p. 132). New York: Pantheon Books.
Oriola, T. B., & Knight, W. A. (2020). COVID-19, George Floyd, and human security.
Reiss, A. J. (1972). Police Brutality? (pp. 456-476). Columbia University Press.
Scrivener, E., Costanzo, M., & Oskamp, S. (1994). Police brutality. In Violence and the Law: Claremont Symposium on Applied Social Psychology. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications (pp. 181-202).
Todak, N., & James, L. (2018). A systematic social observation study of police de-escalation tactics. Police Quarterly, 21(4), 509-543.