.. The officers felt like they had the power to do anything they wanted without any reason at all. In the incident with Shawn Robbins where the officers falsely arrested a man for trying to keep the streets clean in his neighborhood, an off duty officer had a bad day and took his aggression out on the first person to push the wrong buttons. These cops do what they do because they have a badge, a gun and because they can. With police brutality on the rise and public awareness becoming more frequent, what can the public do? Must the people in the United States live with police brutality? What about a citizen who is in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or even a person arrested for asking some one to pick up their trash as in the Shawn Robbins case. Asking someone to pick up his or her trash is not a crime (shouldnt Mr. Robbins be commended for this?) Unfortunately, Mr.
Robbins was slammed against a brick wall and yelled at and arrested because a cop in my opinion had nothing better to do. There are different ways in which to reduce police brutality. Training of new officers Mandated continuing officer education/counseling Pre-qualify new officers Public review boards The first, better education of young, new police officers. These officers need to be trained in appropriate behavior. How about teaching new officers communication and negotiation skills? Medical personnel and attorneys can reasonably be compared to police officers, because they make life and death decisions.
They, like the police, are allowed to perform otherwise illegal acts in their daily business. Attorneys must prosecute, defend, and/or interpret the laws we require our young, undereducated, underpaid police officers to abide by. Only these officers must make these life threatening and legal decisions in a split second. Police officers often must meet minimal educational requirements to qualify for their jobs. (DeSantis, 1994) Are we asking or expecting too much? Should we require the officers be trained, educated in the law as well as other communication skills? On going education and counseling for all officers should be mandated. Following is a quote by former police officer Cherokee Paul McDonald: I ALWAYS wished there were some way to capture the moment on the street, preserve it intact, with the sounds and smells and feels of the confrontation. It would have been so much easier for the judge, the jury, and the parents to understand why the brutal police officer had treated their young defendant/son so terribly.
The National Institute of Justice reports that five different profiles were identified when psychologists characterized officers at risk for excessive force. The popular stereotype that a few bad apples are responsible for most, if not all, excessive force complaints was not supported by these responses; both individual personality characteristics and organizational influences were identified as contributing to abuse of force. Following are the responses when psychologists were asked about the characteristics of police officers referred to them for counseling because of excessive force problems: 16 percent had personality disorders that placed them at chronic risk for excessive use of force. 17 percent had previous job related experiences that could place them at risk for abuse of force. 18 percent were young an immature officers at early stages in their police careers.
21 percent developed patrol styles that incorporated the routine use of force. 28 percent experienced personal problems. Stress is an inevitable and inescapable fact of a police officers life on a daily basis. Education on stress management, emotional trauma, communication, negotiation skills, etc. should be mandated from the top of the profession to those officers walking a beat on the street.
Police officers need education on appropriate outlets and behavior for their anger and/or aggression resulting from an extremely dangerous (physically and mentally) job. Pre-qualifying new officers could save lives as well as money on costly lawsuits. Psychological screening is employed to varying degrees by different departments, it is not standardized, which leaves many open cracks through which potentially disturbed people can fall straight into uniform (DeSantis, 1994). The National Institute of Justice Research Report found that 71% of police psychologists practiced pre-employment screening. Of the 71% following is the data on pre-employment screening practices.
96 percent used psychological tests. 91 percent used clinical interviews. 22 percent used risk assessment models. 15 percent used situational tests. 4 percent used job simulations.
Are we putting power and weapons in the hands of those who are prone towards the misuse of them? Psychological testing background checks, and counseling with new recruits could weed out officers who are on a power trip. (U.S Department of Justice, 1994) Police forces throughout the U.S. must be made more accountable for their actions by the establishment of effective monitoring mechanisms. National, state, and local police authorities should ensure that police brutality and excessive force are not tolerated. There are many organizations where you can file a complaint. Wayne Kerstetter, (1985), has identified different types of citizens complaint and review boards.
Keep in mind that these boards are mainly made up of non-police, non-sworn police personnel and are outside an independent form of police departments. (Kerstetter, 1985 p. 160) These organizations dont have the power to recommend disciplinary action in any of the cases. Previously, a comparison between police officers and those in the medical field along with attorneys was made. (Kerstetter, 1985 p. 160) These fields have review boards (albeit they are made up of medical and legal colleagues).
We need to look for a national standard for our police officers. There are national standards, tests and regulations for these professionals. Independent citizens boards serve as a check or safeguard over the policing process. These watchdog or safeguard groups can prove useful to the public. Even so these groups have no say in the power to decide or impose punishment.
This is why we need national standards and regulations. Disciplinary action currently lies in the police department. There is a need for some kind of outside organization to assist the citizen whos unsatisfied with police departments treatment or internal investigation. (U.S. Department of Justice, 1994) Police officers are faced with difficult decisions daily. Not only difficult decisions but also they must interact with some of the worst, most dangerous elements in our society.
And they chose to do this. Our officers have a sworn duty to protect, to serve, and to uphold the law. Yes, it would appear police brutality is on the rise in America. Citizens should demand their elected officials set stringent standards for hiring and training these officers. They say the things you see on this job will kill youbut the ones you dont see will kill you sooner.
Former officer Cherokee Paul McDonald 1991 Bibliography 1. A perspective on the Rodney King incident. (1991, March 19). Los Angeles Times, p. A20.
2. DeSantis, J. (1994). The new untouchables. Chicago: The Noble Press.
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(1999, February 2). Jailhouse shock. Village Voice. p. 40.
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New York: Praeger Ed. 6. McDonald, C.P. (1991) Blue truth. New York: Donald I. Fine.
7. Rockwell, R. (1997, August 14). Police brutality: more than just a few bad apples. Available: HTTP: http//www.walrus.com/users/resist/ndp/282497rockwe ll.html.
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A1 10. U.S. Department of Justice. (1994). National Institute of Justice Research Report: The Role of Police Psychology in Controlling Excessive Force. Washington, DC: U.S.
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