Police Brutality

.. dicated that the deputies were in violation of policy, but even that was not enough to force legal action against the officers. The decision not to prosecute drew protests from civil rights groups in the United States as well as the Mexican government. The U.S. attorneys office met privately with Mexican American community leaders in hopes of easing tensions over the decision, but it was to no avail.

The president of the Mexican American Political Association, Steve Figueroa, was outraged and heavily criticized Attorney General Janet Reno for refusing to prosecute. Figuoeroa plans to continue to push for the prosecution of the officers and is attempting to organize the public to force action against the police department (A-15). The animosity blacks and Latinos have toward the LAPD began in the fifties when police chief William H. Parker headed the department. Before Parker the LAPD used community-based policing which allowed the officers to interact with the community by walking through the neighborhoods and getting to know the residents. Parker wanted his officers off the street and into squad cars where they could be aggressive, mobile, and make more arrests.

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Parker believed in intimidation and discouraging crime before it happened, he called it proactive policing (Corwin 232). Residents in the black and Latino neighborhoods considered proactive policing Ngo 6 harassment. Entering white neighborhoods they were routinely tailed, stopped, then searched. Without any provocation they complained of being bullied, intimidated, and beaten. Later in the eighties, when police chief Daryl Gates took over the department, Proactive policing was pushed even harder.

Anti-gang sweeps resulted in the arrest of tens of thousands of black and Latino men, who were never charged with crimes and later released (240). Gates claimed that LAPD officers had to be aggressive because they were outnumbered. The LAPD had the lowest ratio of officers to residents of the nations six largest cities and LAPD officers, by using gunfire, killed or wounded more civilians than any of the nations largest cities (234). In 1991 Warren Christopher, a prominent Los Angeles attorney, who latter became secretary of the state, headed an investigation into the LAPD in response to the Rodney King beating. The results of the investigation further tarnished the reputation of the LAPD, it concluded that the department was out of touch with the minority communities and tolerated racially motivated brutality.

It went on to criticize the department for leniency in disciplining officers guilty of excessive force. The investigation found that officers with numerous complaints against them had these reports left out of their files and were often promoted quickly through the department. The Christopher commission concluded that The failure to control these problem officers referring to those guilty of misconduct, is a management issue that we see as the heart of the problem of excessive force. (236). Solution: Working in an emergency room in a hospital, I see and speak with sheriffs deputies on a daily basis. For the most part they are all decent people trying to do their Ngo 7 jobs and live their lives. When I speak with them they are usually warm, polite, and eager to being open and humorous.

I dont feel intimidated or nervous around them. But, on the other hand when these same deputies approach me on the streets or pull me over in my car they take on a completely different persona. They are often intimidating and they treat you as if you are a criminal and guilty of a crime. I asked a deputy why they act so different out there on the streets and he replied because we are scared. The police have a bad reputation, especially in the Los Angeles area, but the officers are doing little to change that perception.

The solution needs to begin with the officers themselves. The officers need to make a conscious effort to show people that they are trying to protect society and that they are not looking to harass people. One option that might be a step in the right direction is to bring back more community-based policing which is recognized as a good way to fight crime and defuse tension in the inner cities (Corwin 232). Knowing residents in the cities, such as store owners and community leaders can only help build a relationship in which each side can try to trust one-another and work together to eliminate crime. The written guidelines that police officers have for the use of force is outlined in the World Wide Web site of Amnesty International.

The officers may only use a minimum amount of force that is necessary to achieve a legitimate purpose. There are five stages in the use of force. (1) Verbal persuasion. (2) Unarmed physical force. (3) Force using non-lethal weapons (mace or pepper spray). (4) Force using impact weapons (batons).

(5) Deadly force may be used only when an officer or another persons life is in Ngo 8 danger (Amnesty International). This is a rough outline of their evaluation of the guidelines, but it seems to be easy steps that can prevent the abuse of power. Another action could be to watch the police more closely through the use of an expanded internal affairs department. The Pittsburgh Police Department, under orders from the federal government, has begun tracking complaints against officers with a computerized system that will notify police supervisors that they may have a problem with certain officers. The police department is highly opposed to such measures calling it spying on the people hired to protect the public(Coates A-14). But the police are constantly spying on people in order to catch them at crimes, so in essence the system is only treating the officers the same as the other residents.

The problem of police brutality is eventually going to be lessened by weeding out people that are not suitable for the responsibility. According to the Police Employment Handbook, to become a California Highway Patrol officer the basic requirements are a high school diploma or GED equivalent, twenty-three weeks of basic training, US citizenship, and good moral character. The annual salary is a minimum of $31,000 and a maximum of $38,000 (15-16). There is no educational incentive pay and the only other means of added salary is to work overtime. The amount of risk that is involved in this line is work is hardly worth the average payment that is received.

The patrol officers work twelve-plus hours a day protecting society only to earn as much money as any minimally skilled person at an office job. The police department must get applications from people who are eager to help society or from people who are out to help themselves in an environment in which they can be in control, aggressive, and can get Ngo 9 away with the use of force by excusing it as part of their job. There are plenty of good people who work in law enforcement, but on the other hand there are plenty that are not suitable for there responsibilities. The government needs to increase the salary of the officers and in turn require higher education. If individuals are motivated enough to help society, by becoming officers and in turn risking their lives to do so, then they deserve to be compensated equally.

If the departments start hiring more quality personnel, then they should have less suits filed against them. The money they save by eliminating lawsuits can could be substantial to the amount they would need to increase the officers salaries.


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