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Essay: Police Brutality

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  • Subject area(s): Criminology essays
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  • Published: November 16, 2017*
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  • Police Brutality
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This paper is written to develop a precise understanding on the factors regarding police use of force. Police brutality is defined as the use of unnecessary, or excessive force by officers when dealing with incidents of the law. This type of force is often beyond needed in order to handle a situation. Police brutality, is majority of the time physical. It can also be verbally, psychological intimidation, racial profiling or even corruption (Danilinia, n.d). This brutality often leads to much more than that. Brutality by police officers can be in the form of non-lethal devices in order to scare the individual, these include pepper spray, batons or even firearms.

In the article, “Racism and Police Brutality in America,” authors Cassandra Chaney, and Ray Robertson argue the changes that have occurred in the nation’s police department 21 years after the Rodney King beating, more so for the worse. The authors claim that black individuals are more likely to be the victims of police brutality. A growing body of scholarly research related to police brutality has revealed that Blacks are more likely than Whites to make complaints regarding police brutality (Smith and Holmes 2003).

The argument developed in this paper, is whether or not police are abusing their force, or are there other factors that are affecting the officers’ decisions. A main factor faced by police officers today is the use of technology and social media. These new advancements in technology, including smart phones, social media and You-Tube put police officers in the hot seat (Brown, 2015, pp. 293-312).

This article specifically pinpoints on the use of social media posts to back up their claims. Authors included a posts by many bloggers all commenting on their hate for police officers and the reasoning behind it.

For example, a respondent by the name of Scott wrote the following on May 18, 2011 at 1:31 p.m.: “COPS SUCK! I like this website because it exposes the assholes that ‘protect’ us, for who they really are.” Scott’s comment was supported by John who wrote this on October 21, 2011 at 12:39 p.m.: “Police are some hoes.” Another respondent who identified himself/herself as T expressed anger at another blogger by the name of Carolyn who believed “police are the backbone that keeps sanity and security in our homes, neighborhoods, and the world at large.” The blogger T used these words to express their indignation on May 23, 2011 at 11:09 a.m… (Chaney, Robertson).

This is a great representation of how social media and technology holds a great impact on the opinions of individuals against police officers. This blogsite allows individuals to speak their mind about officers, and no one can stop them. Arguments raised as some bloggers argued back stating, “police are the backbone that keeps sanity and security in our homes, neighborhoods, and the world at large.”

Although these are protected by our freedom of speech, it is absurd to hold a hate blog against police officers. These are the reasons why individuals fight back against officers, and they hold this awful reputation. Research conducted by the FBI states how there were about 13,000 murder victims in 2009. Comparing that to police, the chart shows that 13% were of a facility-type misconduct. Which is around 330 misconduct-facilities. There are 415,000 police officers. This indicates that police are 16 times more likely to murder. Or, if you were to add the police killings to the 13,000 murders, police are held accountable for 2.4% of the murders, whereas they account only for 0.2% of the population. However, this is argued. There are many factors that influence why a police officer uses force, or initiates the need for an intervention with the use of force. The factors include a wide variety, however though research one main contributor stood out above all the rest. This includes the locations and the demographics of these locations. They can greatly affect the way a police officer reacts to situations, their methods and reasoning.

The authors claim that black individuals are more likely to be subjected to police brutality than white individuals, and also more likely to commit crimes. “most Whites believe that Blacks are disproportionately inclined to engage in criminal behavior and are the deserving on harsh treatment by the criminal justice system (Chaney, Robertson).

On the other hand, such an observation is curious because most urban areas are moderate to highly segregated residentially which would preclude the frequent and significant interaction needed to make such scathing indictments (Bonilla-Silva 2009).

Prior conducted research shows that crime rates are more likely to sky rocket in cities than in rural areas. Determining when an officer should use force is actually written under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Police officers are strictly trained to only use force as a last option, solely for the safety of the officer. The correct use of force is always relative to the situation, and as stated before often the use of technology is used to portray the situation worse than it is.

For instance, in the case of Eric Garner. This was the case involving, New York City police officers. This individual died due to being held in a chokehold. However, officers are not authorized to use this type of force at any time. Eric Garner was not a stranger to criminal behavior, he had been arrested almost thirty times before. Yet on that day he was resisting arrest, resulting him to be detained by two police officers. While fighting this, he placed his arms above his head causing him to be placed in a chokehold. He lost all oxygen to his lungs, and unfortunately died. These are the unfortunate cases that place a horrifying image on the minds of Americans. Daily we see the disrespect toward law enforcement due to rare cases like this. This damages officers’ reputations as a whole. It is impossible for them to hold a strong reputation when the media feeds into these cases and sways the public to one side, creating widespread dismay. We need to understand why the officers resort to these forces, and how the incidents can be avoided at all costs.

Throughout research I was able to receive a better understanding on issues regarding police brutality. From perceptions to split second decisions, police officers are tasked with one of toughest jobs on the planet. These officers receive feedback from almost every event, decision, and task that they complete or act on. It is easy to lose respect or have your opinion changed when most incidents involving police officers are protruded negatively. With technology changing by the minute, and criminals getting smarter every day, these officers must prepare for each and every situation they could be a part of. We must set up a state or nationwide training site in order to ensure that every officer receives the same exact training to attempt to alleviate any possible differences different police academies attempt to teach.

In order for policing to improve, individuals need to stop beating their system down. Respect that they sacrifice their lives for our safety daily. Since body cameras have become more common, this will be a better way to show situations from the officers’ perspective instead of an individual’s post on social media.

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