Racism and police brutality goes hand in hand, and causes a major concern in today’s society, in the United States. On March 3, 1991 in California, Rodney King an African American, was pulled over after a high-speed chase, and after stopping was beaten by four white police officers (Worsnop 635). Tracy Brock also an African American was arrested in Manhattan in November of 1986. An officer smashed his head through a plate glass window, when Brock refused to go into the officers lunchroom (Police Brutality and Excessive Force in the New York City Police Department 14). Ki Tae Kim a Korean grocer was assaulted when he was accused of passing a counterfeit bill. He was punched in the face, his head was slammed into the counter, and the officer also subjected him to racial slurs (Police Brutality and Excessive Force in the New York City Police Department 17). Marcos Maldonado a Latino grocer was mistaken for a suspect after an armed robbery to his store. He was handcuffed, thrown to the floor, repeatedly kicked, and beaten with the officers nightstick (Police Brutality and Excessive Force in the New York City Police Department 17). Abner Louima a Haitian immigrant was arrested outside a dance club in Brooklyn, and was brutally assaulted when he arrived at the police station. Volpe a long time police officer was accused of shoving a plunger into Louima’s rectum so far that his bladder and intestines were lacerated. Then he shoved the plunger into Louima’s mouth and broke his teeth (Steinback 8). These are just a few examples of the people who were affected of police brutality, and racism. There are five stages through which force can progress and lead to brutality: Verbal persuasion, unarmed physical force, force using non-lethal weapons, force using impact weapons and deadly force, which most of the officers mentioned before fell into this stage. The deadly force stage is only to be used only when an officers life or another persons life is in danger. The deadly force stage should be terminated, if not made illegal in the United States. By having the deadly force stage, by law you are permitting someone to commit a murder, and basically saying that it is just. In many of the cases stated before these guidelines were violated, and stronger action was used on the citizen than necessary. The officers who were accused in these cases were charged with only minor offenses, and some were charged with nothing at all. Stronger action should have been enforced on the police officers that committed these crimes. All of these victims mentioned are from minority groups, and were harmed by white New York City police officers. In less than four years fifty -five people have died while in being in police custody, in the New York City Police Department (Police Brutality and Excessive Force in the New York City Police Department 8). This number compared to earlier statistics seems to be low, but still seems extremely high, for the rules and regulations the officers are supposed to be following. Should the Federal Government increase the punishment on law enforcement officials who brutally hurt citizens that are in custody, or under arrest?
Many law enforcement officials appear to have a tough exterior towards crime, but are very sensitive to crime on the inside. Police officers build up negative feelings towards certain races, sexes, or religions. Officers tend to get the impression that if one or a few people treat them with disrespect, than other people of that same sex, race, or religion will treat the officer in the same way. It is has proven that less than five percent of all cops are the bad element, but if they other ninety five percent stand around and do nothing, then that is where the real problem lies (Worsnop 636). Another cause of police brutality and misconduct is the amount of stress that is put upon the law enforcement official. According to Robert Scully who is the president of the National Association of Police Organizations in Detroit, There obviously has to be some kind of stress factor at work in brutality cases because stress is an inherent part of policing.(Worsnop 636). A survey done by the Washington Post exposed a comparable local pattern of the sixty one police misconduct cases heard in 1990 by the District of Columbia Civilian Complaint review board. It has been discovered that excessive force was used only in eighteen out of the sixty-one cases that were reported. It has also been found that judges and juries side with police officers and not with the citizen. (Police Brutality and Excessive Force in the New York City Police Department 7).
Law enforcement officials who are accused of police brutality are required to attend a civil court hearing with a judge and a jury present. Most times the jury will find the officers not guilty, or guilty of a lesser crime. This is true in the case of the officer who used an illegal chokehold on Anthony Baez; a twenty eight-year old Puerto Rican, after Baezs football hit the patrol car. Baez was killed due to the force of the chokehold, but the officer was found not guilty (Contreras 30). Police officers are also required to go to a class that reteaches them how to act appropriately in an arrest. These classes last for between one week and two weeks depending on the state. This class is done on the officers own time and they do not receive pay for attending. This is required before the officer is allowed back on the street. The classes are usually held at night and seem pretty boring and useless to the officers. Most feel they did not commit a wrongdoing and that they are innocent.
There are many ways to curb police brutality, and by implementing a new law, brutality should decrease. Right now officers know that there are laws dealing with etiquette during an arrest, but many don’t bother to apply what they know, and let physical strength, and force take over. The federal government needs to enact a law that will make officers think twice before using a nightstick unnecessarily, punching or kicking a person, or using excessive force. The law should read, Any officer accused by a citizen and two other witnesses of using excessive force, will be suspended without pay for thirty days, for a first time offense. For a repeated offense the officer will be subjected to a court hearing in which a jury will decide his/her fate. The jury could decide on another suspension for the officer, or as heavy as being permanently let go from the force. Another proposal for guarding against police brutality is by rewarding officers with raises and promotions. Police departments should give thought to honoring exemplary service to the community awards once a year. Private businesses and social groups could provide cash rewards for commendable behavior. Each year there could be a ceremony in the town hall of the local village, and the business that donated the money could present the check and a plaque to the recipient.
The preferred policy that I would like to enact would be allowing law enforcement officials get rewarded for long-term service and notable behavior. This will teach them that by thinking each situation though, and by taking each with a grain of salt, they don’t need excessive force to get cooperation. If local businesses were willing to donate at least ten dollars apiece, and only one reward was given a year it could really promote a positive influence over the police department. This would motivate officers to act accordingly, and this policy could easily be enacted with the help of the police department. In areas where crime rates are high often times so are stress rates. Police departments should offer stress management clinics that are mandatory to attend, once or twice a month. It will allow for police officers to share stores about how they managed their stress, and explain situations in which they failed. An intangible result would be in low crime areas should this still be a mandatory practice, and what if local businesses didnt want to participate? If a stress clinic was actually implemented who would run it? And would they have to pay someone to do it?
The likeness of implementing the recommended preferred policy is pretty likely because it costs very little money, and in some states it is already being considered. The money comes from donations and you could use some of it to by a plaque to display in the police department. There are many active players who think very strongly about police brutality. James Fyfe is strongly against police brutality and states that, Police practice has changed after a decade of long term turmoil. (Worsnop 635). At the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights a community group handles all police brutality cases that are subjected to court hearings in that state (Davidson 49). President Clinton has announced a forty-seven million-dollar program to strengthen police integrity. Twenty million alone would be used for expanding an officers integrity and ethics (Davidson 51). Laurie Levenson is standing up for all police brutality victims, not just those of minorities. She said, We were naive to think the Rodney King case would solve the problem of police abuse. Its a much bigger problem than one case…. You have to take these issues very seriously.(Goldman A1+). Rita Leitner whose son was a victim of police brutality speaks out, and is very active in preventing police brutality. She stands strong because her son was permanently injured in the hands of those who are supposed to protect. The players that are mentioned here are all against police brutality. It was pretty difficult to find players that thought brutality was not important and was not an issue. The prince analysis done on this issue shows an eighty three percent chance of being implemented. This is a highly likely rate of implementation.
Police Brutality in the United States and around the world needs to be totally abolished to protect the citizens, and the police officers.
Legal Issues Essays