Police Brutality

.. 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.

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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.

3. Herbert, B. (1999, February 14). Whats going on. New York Times. 4. Houppert, K.

(1999, February 2). Jailhouse shock. Village Voice. p. 40.

5. Kerstetter, W. (1985). Who disciplines the police? Who should? In Police Leadership in America: Crisis and Opportunity. (p. 160).

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.

8. Saari, K. (). Police brutality is on the rise. Available: HTTP: http//www.sonomacountyfreepress.org/police/brutali ty.html.

9. Serrano, R.A. (1991, March 20). L.A. police downplay beating. Los Angeles Times, p.

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.

Government Printing Office. Legal Issues.

Police Brutality

Police Brutality 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.

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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.

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