Police misconduct can be described as any inappropriate behavior on the part of any law enforcement officer that is either illegal or immoral or both. Law enforcement agents should behave to a standard that is greater than the average civilian. The presence of police brutality is becoming more of an issue as society grows. The problem posed by the illegal exercise of police power is an ongoing reality for individuals of a disfavored race, class, or sexual orientation. Police Brutality in Los Angeles was brought to the forefront with the beating of Rodney King in 1991. Although an incident with the effects the same as the Rodney King issue has not occurred, police brutality is an ongoing issue which causes a major concern in Los Angeles specifically because of the riots.
According to Whitman “Well before he heard the first siren, Rodney King knew he never should have slipped that key into the ignition. They had been having so much fun, he and his buddies Bryant Allen and Freddie Helms, just kicking back, sipping some inexpensive 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor at the local park as they jawed and laughed while the daylight ebbed away. Afterward, they had stood in front of Allen’s mom’s house trying to croon a few tunes.
King wasn’t much of a singer but, when he switched to rapping, his buddies felt he was almost in a groove. And then it was after midnight, and suddenly King was driving his car, flying down the highway at 80 miles per hour, the radio blaring, he and Allen singing again, and then there it was–the flashing light atop the highway patrol car bouncing off his rearview mirror, filling his car with a red light that King had learned to dread. King knew, as he later testified, that he was drunk and that if the police caught him speeding he’d soon be back in prison for violating parole” (Whitman, 1993, pp. 34-57)
In the middle of the night of March 3, 1991, George William Holiday taped the encounter between Rodney King and several officers. This was, according to some, one of the most famous images in modern American history. Rodney king had many fractures in his skull, bruises, and cuts” (CNN) The Rodney King incident sparked the Los Angeles Riots in which was a chaotic horror for the city. “The riots over five days in the spring of 1992 left more than 50 people dead, and more than 2,000 injured. The rioting destroyed or damaged over 1,000 buildings in the Los Angeles area. The estimated cost of the damages was over $1 billion.
More than 9,800 California National Guard troops were dispatched to restore order.Nearly 12,000 people were arrested, though not all the arrests were directly related to the rioting” (CNN) The rioters were angry about the injustice of the officers misconducting their job duties. Many people protested for Rodney King and because the officers did not get trailed, people were infuriated.
The Rodney King incident was the first big shock to the community, and many more incidents have occurred. However this is the reason to imminent a resolution for poor police conduct in Los Angeles. Police departments should revise and reevaluate its training exercises in order to provide a solution to excessive force. New training methods must be provided on situations that usually lead to brutality. Officers should be educated on how to correctly operate pepper spray, how to engage in post chase arrest, and how to handle in a non-violent way mentally ill citizens. The effects of the newest police weapon technology, such as pepper spray, should be thoroughly investigated before being available for use by police officers.
Training should utilize ways to deal with the effects of weapons used by police, including proper medical assistance. Trainers should be chosen carefully to ensure a more effective training policy. Complaints and allegations of any kind of misconduct should be considered when choosing new trainers. Police departments must avoid choosing police officers with a history of violent behavior to serve as trainers. This solution is achievable and will help discourage police abuse. Cost of the revision of training is small because it just requires new training methods.
A background check should be conducted to ensure that the police departments do not hire potentially violent police officers. Also, a tracking system should be implemented in conjunction with the background check. This tracking system will prevent terminated problem officers from being assigned to a new position at another precinct. Police departments should be required to submit relevant information to a tracking office when an officer is fired for human rights abuses or when a police officer quits before a decision is made regarding the officers misconduct.
Recruiters must be required to check with the same tracking office before any applicant. An officer found guilty of police misconduct in any way violent or non-violent should be decertified. Desertification can be described as the process of making any certificates or licenses the officer holds invalid. Officers who have been decertified cannot be employed as police officers again until they are re-certified. These solutions should be very effective because it filters out many potential problem officers.
Police argue that they use excessive force only to protect themselves against criminals. The Police may argue that they already have an internal affairs division and that the current system is working. Investigation by internal affairs staff is frequently concealed, and often police informants are used to tamper with evidence in cases against officers. Law Enforcement highly opposes to background checks and tracking systems calling it, “Spying on the people hired to protect the public”.
However, the police are consistently spying on people in order to catch them doing criminal activities, so in theory this would only treat the police as they treat other citizens. Usually, law enforcement officers apt to deny accountability for harm that is done to patrons of their jurisdiction. Consequently, officers try to counteract behavior patterns they display. Case in point, an officer may use extreme force on suspects who make efforts to resist or contest police authority. When police overreact to these situations they feel that they are justified due the resistance by the suspect. If law enforcement agents justify their actions in every situation police brutality is going to intensify.
The problem with Police misconduct is that it is a complex problem. However, with the right solutions intact this situation can be resolved. Police brutality stands as one of the most severe and troublesome civil rights infringements in America. The misconduct of police officers, such as, physical abuse, unlawful shootings, and verbal assault must end. Police precincts across America should function as a force that handles situations in a professional and civilized manner. The issue of police brutality is becoming more crucial as society grows.