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“Police Brutality Is Not Necessary"

Essay by   •  July 9, 2011  •  1,728 Words (7 Pages)  •  2,182 Views

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Introduction:

The Police Department has a duty to protect and serve in the public's best interest. Working in this particular profession, at times, can be very dangerous. Many men and women who wear the police uniform are put into positions where excessive force is necessary; however, there are many instances where it is not.

Causes of Police Brutality:

The factors that trigger into whether police abuse their power are race, religion, socioeconomic status, and treatment of the mentally ill. Also, the militarization of police departments and “Shoot-To-Kill” policies weigh in heavily towards this issue. Police brutality should be addressed because some police officers use dangerously extreme measures.

Race plays a key role in most police brutality cases throughout the United States. In spite of the growth in many areas since the civil rights movement, one area that has been persistently resistant to change has been the treatment of blacks and minorities by the police. Police have subjected minorities to apparently discriminatory treatment and have physically abused minorities while using racial slurs. The excessive force by police officers is becoming a growing problem, and should be investigated by both the police and the powerful political figures.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety provided raw video from a police dash cam that shows a December 12, 2004, incident in which a state trooper threatens to kill an African American person and uses a racial slur.(www.nbcaugusta.com) Then in St. Louis there was another case where an off duty St. Louis County police officer was accused of using racial slurs and pointing his pistol at a man during a parking space argument at a St. Patrick's Day event.(www.knox.com) In Cincinnati, Ohio, Police Officer Patrick Caton has been was stripped of his police powers after allegedly using a racial slur that was recorded inside his cruiser.(www.enquirer.com) Each new incident that involves police abuse of an African-American, Hispanic-American or another minority and particularly those that receive media attention strengthens a belief that some residents are subjected to particularly harsh treatment and racial bias. For those people who feel racism is not a factor in causing the use of excessive force, here is a startling fact. In Los Angeles California, Rodney King was stopped and beaten by four Los Angeles Police Officers. The police officers were all white.

Representative Leon Howard of the Legislative Black Caucus brought the tape to Governor Sanford, along with another one showing a different trooper handcuffing an African-American woman to the front a patrol cruiser in October 2007, and leaving her there for several minutes. Howard says the troopers were let off the hook in both cases. "And they gave the troopers 12 hours, they gave each one 12 hours punishment, and they feel that's appropriate, then certainly I think the governor made the right decision not to have someone at the leadership position with that type of mentality," said Howard. James Schweitzer, who's the highest ranking officer in the Department of Public Safety, will not be renominated. Schweitzer says he's disappointed to leave the agency under what he feels is politics at its worst. He'll continue as director until the next one is appointed.(www.nbcaugusta.com)

According an article written by AntiWar.com, there was a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of five Muslim Americans who, along with dozens of others, were detained for 6 Ð'Ð... hours, interrogated, fingerprinted, and photographed at the Canadian border crossings to Buffalo as they returned home from an annual Islamic Conference in Toronto. Court documents stated that, “none of the plaintiffs had engaged in any unlawful conduct or any other conduct that would justify the mistreatment to which they were subjected, but instead were subjected to this treatment solely because they had attended the conference.” This was a case specifically violated the protected First Amendment Rights.

In Tampa Florida, there was a hate crime against a Muslim that received national notoriety and was the incident at a jewelry kiosk - owned by a Muslim woman - at West Shore Plaza in April 2004. The woman was verbally abused by a couple who tried to tear off her hijab. Police never found the attackers.

The victim eventually spoke with police and the FBI about pressing a hate crime charge but gave up on the idea after learning that the family couldn't be found.(Cair-florida.org)

After the Hurricane Katrina devastation, police officers in Louisiana were under a policy called “Shoot-To-Kill.” This policy was mostly enforced to deter people from looting goods from stores to survive. The predominately poor, black communities that were affected by the disaster of Hurricane Katrina were left to be washed away, then to fend for themselves. Democratic Governor Kathleen Blanco threatened looters with the “shoot-to-kill” policy. "These troops are battle-tested. They have M16s and are locked and loaded," she said. "These troops know how to shoot and kill and I expect they will."(globalsearch.ca)

In 2005, a study was conducted (of police officers) by the Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice of Vehicle Cues and Racial Profiling. The conclusion was that police officers perceive a person's socioeconomic status by the type of car they drive. For example, if a police officer sees a car with dark tinted windows and rims on the tires, they would automatically assume that the driver was black and very aggressive. If it turns out that the driver is white, they would automatically assume they were a rebellious and privileged driver. (antiwar.com)

The case also revealed some general patterns, such as young males with less law enforcement experience had more disagreement in the race and age arena than those with more experience. Male participants had more disagreement in the social status category than females. Male and female respondents had widespread disagreement in the age category. For instance, young females compared to older females had more disagreement in the age of the driver, possibly suggesting an increased sensitivity or ambiguity to the issue of the identification of race or ethnicity based on perception.(antiwar.com)

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, during 2002 large State and local law enforcement agencies, representing 5% of agencies and 59% of officers, received a total of 26,556 citizen complaints about police use of force. About a third of all force complaints in 2002 were not sustained

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