Police brutality is a topic that is not foreign to our nation. It extends past the typical “wrong place, wrong time” idea that many people have internalized. The police in today’s society have overwhelmely used their power for the wrong reasons. In the recent years and since the birth of America, blacks have been disproportionally killed by police more than whites. People like Sandra Bland, Treyvon Martin, Eric Garner and others have all died at the hands of police. Many of these suspects are unarmed and pose no threat to society. They all died because of racism and negligence.
To understand why this topic is so important, we must look at the core problem which is race. There are extensive amounts of data that shows how race can affect people’s encounters by police. Police brutality has always been around it has morphed over the years. Back during slavery, violence against non-white people was legal and encouraged. The overseer was like the police to monitor any activity. Once the age of reconstruction hit, racism and bigotry were hidden but still visible. The birth of the KKK sparked the idea of White Supremacy and was applied to everyday life. They infiltrated many levels of society and influenced many officers. As time progressed up until today, they have been operating in the shadows. We can see this in media, our jobs, and mainly our police.
We see the bodies and names day after day. The media is portraying it as some rare occurrence, but the evidence is there. People who look like me are dying at an exponential rate. The police can be reformed be reformed by introducing race relations classes, more training, better body and car cams, and more. This paper will prove that police brutality is an evident problem and how we can address it.
A Reform to Police Department Hiring: Preventing the Tragedy of Police Misconduct highlights very important issues. Timothy Loehmann was the officer who shot twelve-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio (Doherty, 2018). Despite all his derogatory marks on his file, he was still able to find work. Various sources have all concluded that he was not fit to be an officer. He was hired by the Cleveland police department without serious review. He slipped through the cracks and now an innocent child is dead because of the negligence of the department. According to the census, blacks make up about half of the population in Cleveland. He was placed in a majority black community without having better training. He was hired just because he passed the academy. Even after the incident, he faced no criminal charges while the family mourns for a loss. This is not a rare occurrence. (Doherty, 2018).
The list goes on and on as more officers who have marks on their record are able to find work. How can the community trust officers if the protectors do not have a moral compass? Police are hurting those who they swore to protect. The police are supposed to uphold morals and integrity. It seems as if no matter the applicant’s background they can become an officer. That is why there is so much misconduct among police because there are no checks and balances in place. If proper universal protocol and training are not implemented, more innocent people will be hurt or killed at the hands of officers. There needs to more scrutiny when it comes to positions that can tens and thousands of citizens. Those who violate their oath and the policies in place should not be given a second chance. This will only do more harm than good.
Do #AllLivesMatter? An Evaluation of Race and Excessive Use of Force by Police also brings up another problem with police conduct. According to the source, they have compiled evidence that blacks are more likely to receive excessive force (Ajilore & Shirey, 2017). Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown are the ones out of many who have died in the hands of police intervention. Eric Garner, whose death went viral, spurred a new momentum (Ajilore & Shirey, 2017). This new movement dubbed the phrase “Hands up, Don’t shoot”. Several officers took down Brown after he was selling cigarettes on the street. Police proceeded to pin him to the ground and crushed him to the point where he could not breath. Excessive force is not limited to severe restraint. On October 2014, seventeen-year-old Laquand McDonald was a black man who was shot 17 times by police. There was an investigation on the Chicago police department. The investigators found substantial evidence that race was a factor in excessive force cases. There were also large amounts of unarmed shootings connected various officers (Ajilore & Shirey, 2017).
We see the videos on social media now. There have been many cases where police stop black people for harassment or racist purposes. The media portrays blacks as violent and confused people. This ideology spreads to the outside world and police could act on it. The victims in these cases are not dangerous and are being taken down. There is also evidence of white offenders doing the same crime or worse and met with little to no force.
Police Violence and Citizen Crime Reporting in the Black Community shows us that often times black people do not involve the police. Because of lack of training or miscommunication, people have died (Desmond & Papachristos, 2016). We see it in the news all the time and probably in our communities. These instances we see cause police and community relations to break. If police are not being held to a standard, the community will grow to resent them. On October 23, 2004, Frank Jude was another victim of police brutality. After he and his friend left a party, they were swarmed by police officers. They were in a white middle class neighborhood. Frank’s friend escaped but he did not. The officers repeatedly assaulted him, and their reasoning was that he stole a badge. His injuries were so bad that they had to take pictures instead of writing it. The police officers returned to work like nothing happened (Desmond & Papachristos, 2016). This event was followed up by several protest for reform. There is a study for 911 calls based on race. The results concluded that 911 calls are always low in minority neighborhoods. That distrust only hurts police community relations and lead to more crime (Desmond & Papachristos, 2016).
Since police began to get out of hand blacks have resulted to community policing. This means all problems are handled inside the community. The lack of communication between the police and community is ridiculous. In the article, they had study done in Milwaukee trying to figure out the pattern between blacks and police calls. There was a good proportion at first but quickly it declines (Desmond & Papachristos, 2016). After the story of Frank Jude came out, calls from black people declined at a rapid rate. If people who are the same color are not getting justice, it’s going to make you think twice before calling the police. We need to employ trusted officers, so people do not have to fear your life. Black people who call the police are putting their lives at risk because anything can happen. What makes this all worse is the fact these offenders do not face serious consequences. Also, we have seen on social media that when police get involved situations get worse. They pull up with severe backup which only riles the situation up. The victims are in fear of their life because they do not know how it will turn out.
The Constitution of Police Violence also shares a relevant point of officers breaking people’s rights. In many instances, police have acted like they are above the law (Ristroph, 2017). Their actions have set a precedent for future officers that rise through the ranks. The article brings up the idea of “unreasonable search and seizure”. This amendment is supposed to protect us from police and other authorities (Ristroph, 2017). Instead, what we routinely see is a loop hole that turns these minor situations violent. The article talks about how many of these instances starting off as minor intervention such a traffic stop (Ristroph, 2017). Race affects these stops and also depends on the officer. They use this tactic to search the people and even the vehicle. In many instances, the person refuses due to lack of reasonable suspicion. The resist to unreasonable searches is seen as violence to many officers. This resist, mostly non-violent, causes officers to act irrational as they view it as a threat (Ristroph, 2017).
This pattern of officers breaking people’s rights is not common and we have seen it many times throughout history. The media portrays it as isolated incidents of bigotry, but it is really all a part of a system. We see time and time again how these violations add up. The officers are barely charged from these violations. If they do get charged, often times as we seen on television and online the charges do not stick. The officers then get to go back to work even if it is not the same department.
The More Things Change, the More Things Stay the Same: Race, Ethnicity, and Police Brutality discusses my final point. As previously stated, the police show many characteristics as the KKK and slave catchers from back in the day. We have heard the stories of slaves being killed just because they are “at the wrong place, at the wrong time”. This source tells us how aggressions from police encounters today are linked to actions in the past (Alang, 2018). The more time progresses, and laws change only mean different loopholes. Problems with police today are the same ones in the past. The civil rights movement is the most clear-cut comparison between today’s problems and the past. Police used to release dogs and various gasses on protestors and just black people in general. They feared for their life on a daily basis as do we. We may have more laws in place to prevent history from repeating but as we see that does not function in every case.
In conclusion, there is substational evidence that police brutality is an imminent problem that needs correction. People are dying because police are either not fully trained or have racial bias towards the induvial. Despite how the media portrays these killings, the reader can also understand they are not giving you the full story. Many blacks and people of color have died at the hands of police and so many families were not given justice. In majority of these cases, the officers are let off with little to no blow back. These situations will give rise to future scenarios because officers will see they can get away with it. Without proper changes to our legal system and police departments, the problem will only get worse. To fix these problems, the hiring process for police should be stricter. They should add on more training, so officers know how to approach people of different colors. We have to hold all lives to the same standard and appreciation.
We are supposed to be the Homefront of democracy, yet we treat those of different skin color worse for no reason other than racism and prejudice. Officers need to get more involved with their communities to show people not to be afraid of them. Community policing has gotten some rise over the years and there are individuals who are stepping up. Them stepping up helps build viable connections to the community that can benefit everyone not just the police. We have to make sure each department in the country has an ethics department that is non-bias and can make sure everything is done by the book. We also need a committee that also makes sure that the ethics department is doing their jobs. We need more positive examples of police to overturn this idea of bad policing. We are all citizens of this country and we all deserve equal protection of the law no matter what. If things do not change soon, these stories we hear will only bring more stories like it. One step at a time, we can change our police departments so that way we can have a better future for the next generation. Like Marcus Garvey says, “those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it”. So, we need to hold everyone accountable, so we can make the world a better place.