The Ignorance Around Police Racism and Brutality

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Police officers were once called peace keepers however now they seem to be nothing more than law enforcement officers. Most still do their jobs but they are more worried about quotas and making arrests on Innocent people then keeping the peace. The biggest issue that is arising in America today with police agencies is police brutality.

Police brutality refers to the instances where citizens have been injured or killed by police officers either intentionally or accidentally but can also to refer instances where they have abused their power as well. But why do these issues occur in the first place? Some people argue that extensive training for officers are required while others believe that the victims are the ones at fault.

These instances make it difficult for people to trust the law enforcement since they are supposed to serve society as its protectors, but instead, a majority of the time they have done the exact opposite. There are many present-day cases where it has shown the officer harming those who mean no threat, physically and/or sexually. But what makes the whole situation even more astonishing is that instead of facing consequences for their actions, the officers simply waltz away from the consequences.

Police brutality comes in many different forms, but the most obvious one would be physical since officers would often use pepper spray, batons, or even their guns to intimidate or harm civilians. Some of the not obvious forms of police brutality would be false arrests, psychological intimidation, sexual abuse, or even racial profiling, which is surprisingly still an issue today ().

The issue of police brutality is so widely known that countries all over have their own laws for it, but unfortunately, it doesn’t stop the officers from doing it. Lately, there have been numerous deaths of young black men where police officers had been the cause, which generated a humongous uprising between Americans, causing the Black Lives Matter movement. A prime example of such is the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, but what really caused havoc was the grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer involved, showing how easily someone in power can get away from their consequences. Another example is Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who was playing with a toy pistol, shot by a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio (). There have been numerous cases that has shown that police officers would sometimes use unnecessary force. The issue that then becomes apparent is determining how much force in excessive, and there isn’t a simple answer to that, since each situation must be carefully reviewed to determine if the amount of force used was appropriate.

Laws were created to deal with situation like this. Section 1983 is a civil rights law that usually victims of police brutality rely upon. According to (), originally, this law was passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. Section 1983 makes it unlawful for anyone working under the authority of the State to deprive another person of his or her rights under the federal law, which is why when someone is arrested, they are usually read their Miranda Rights. The most common claims filed against police officers are that of false arrest, malicious prosecution, or unreasonable force.

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Out of the three, the most common one would be false arrest, which is where the police have violated the victim’s Fourth Amendment by seizing them unreasonably (). Yet, the matter is then disclosed if the officer did have a probable cause. The issue with this is that even if the reasoning is false, the officer would not be liable for the false arrest if he believed the victim was doing something wrong at the time of arrest (). But if the officer was corrupt, would it be rather easy to make false arrests and then claim that they thought the seizure necessary at the time? A malicious prosecution is simply asserting that the officer deprived the victim of the Fourteenth Amendment, which unfortunately can fail for the same reasons that a false arrest would ().

If a nation were to try and eliminate such problem, they would have to tackle the problem at its roots, and in this case, it would be the causes for police brutality. The issue with police brutality is that there are many things that could cause an officer to act out, such as psychological issues, discrimination, or corruption.

Psychologically, an event in the officer’s past could cause him to act a certain way. For example, if one were to assume the officer had experienced an encounter with someone that caused him to go into fight or flight mode, that officer may experience some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder the next time an encounter with a civilian occurs.

There has been research from the Buffalo School of Medicine that shows a possible link between police brutality and pre-existing PTSD, but it’s kind of far-stretched (). One thing to note is that racism is often a psychological issue, because no one is born hating some other kind. Racism is taught, and when one encounters a race that they discriminate against, unjust feelings of anger emerge, causing one to take extreme actions against the other person. There are many forms of racism and it seems that racism is one of the biggest causes for police brutality. Statistics show that many cases of police brutality happen in the South. The connection that this has is that racism is more apparent in the South than the North (). Racism isn’t the only big cause for police brutality. The other most common cause is corruption, which in this case could be seen as officers abusing their power. Examples of such would be the numerous cases where the victims were sexually assaulted by police officers after being confronted ().

Finding and dealing with the cause of police brutality would be much easier if the abuse were mainly occurring in a specific region, but investigations by the US Department of Justice shows a random pattern of abuse happening all over the country, with Oklahoma having the high rates for police brutality and Vermont having the lowest.

Even though racism was a big issue in the South, the locations of the police brutality implies that racism is still an apparent issue and is grossly spreading throughout the country once more instead of diminishing. Based on the charts provided by Sinyangwe, one could see that the number of civilians killed by police officer quite vary throughout the year but has been slowly increasing for the last few years.

The reason why not many people hear about the issue nowadays is due to the current president leading every news cycle, causing all actual important news to be pushed to the back burner.

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