The police, since time in memorial, have been a center of conflict in many aspects. In the criminal and justice, they have been among the major groups that have raised many controversial issues when it comes to matters concerning the administration of justice. Their duties most of the times seem ironic to their true calling. In this article, we will endeavor to look at the police use of force and how they view this use of strength and finally how the public views police brutality.
The urban part of America which is mostly cosmopolitan and multicultural suffers a lot from crime violence, homelessness, poverty, and gang issues. The police department is the body that is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that there is law and order. James and Jerome in their book Above the Law, say that the police have had a bad history in the administration of justice and they give the example of Rodney King who was given 56 blows by the police. Even though most people tend to complain about it, a senior reporter for the American Lawyer magazine does not find the beating of Rodney King shocking at all. (Cooper, Hannah LF,56-76)
He says that he views it as normal police trying to restore law and justice to a suspect criminal who proves to be violent. In this book, above the law, the writers say that the police use of force has been on the decrease for the past decades. There are different forms of police brutality that have been observed and are still being witnessed today. Among them include whipping, slapping, threatening and depriving food or water. Others are exposed to long periods of interrogations among other forms of brutality. (Magner, D.K,23-45)
The known rate of frequency of police use of force varies a great deal depending on the ways events were captured, and also the intensity of the force differs. Some writers argue that most media put emphasis on incidences where police have applied excessive force when administrating justice and this is to a great extend jeopardizes the work of the police. Therefore, the writers say that a critical examination should be done in the social context and behavior surrounding the use of force before any judgments are passed over to the police. The use of force by the police has come along, and many changes have taken place. A writer by the name Walker says that hostility was to counter the force used by the police against the citizens. The use of force by the police has then since becoming a matter of public concern and has attracted a lot of media interest. This has been found out to be influenced partly by politics, and there has been necessity for reforms to address this issue as suggested by other authors (Jerome K and James J.,145-234)
Most police officers view their roles as highly sophisticated compared to those of traditional professionals. This is because unlike other professionals whose role is clearly outlined their work surrounding the administration of justice demands a lot. Most police officers are of the idea that all citizens are of equal importance and they all need their services without discrimination of any kind. Among them include the law-abiding citizens, the victim or potential victim and more so those whose conduct needs to be restrained. (Amilcar Scott & Rion, 7-54)
The police then argue out that it is then crucial for citizens to understand the involuntary nature of the relationship between the perpetrators and police before engaging in any discussion concerning the excessive use of force by the police. This nature of the relationship necessitates the police to use force or threaten to do so in most incidences. The police continue to argue that the use of force is their obligation in the line of their duty and professionally they are required to do so. They go on to say that they use force that is legitimated by the law and without such force, there would be no law and order in the society. The police say that if people would voluntarily act out in a manner that does not necessitate police attention, then police violence would be a forgotten vocabulary. This is the exact opposite of the world we live in today. (Scott, Pelley, and Quijano Elaine, 221)
The police put it out that it becomes tough for them to gain trust and respect in a social context where here is a huge disparity between the advantaged and disadvantaged class in the society. This is especially so when the main factors for the variation are the race. In most cases experienced in the slums. Resentment is faced by the very people that need help. The police say it straight that the public must, therefore, understand that they are not necessary to be blamed for the existence of the bad relationship between them and the citizens more so in the ghetto. The police finally put it out straight and argue that the public must appreciate their work and everything done is for the good of the whole society. (Onyemaobim, Ikeda O.,23-98)
To the public, the police use of force has proved to be a nightmare. This is especially the African- American who end up asking themselves this question is this what the police are like? because it is believed that, their violence towards the black is more intense. Even though this still the public has got a lot of biases when it comes to police brutality. Some view it as justified and explain it as the overzealous of the police and not necessarily cruelty per say. They deem the beatings of the police as a result of lack of compliance and portrayal of super human strength. The writers of above the law argue that in urban America most people are lead to believe that the black enjoys superhuman strength. The public says for example that the Los Angela rioters are mostly angry black men who had been involved in dangerous activities such as burning down buildings, smashing windowpanes and beating innocent motorists. This is a justification of the need by police to employ brutal means to calm the violence. A commissioner by the name Robert in another article says that the problem of the use of extensive force is a real problem in America today. The commissioner argues out that this issue is partly related to the many challenges that police face while in their line of duty. He explains that this behavior should not be condoned but actively dealt with by concerned parties. (Magner, D.K,23-45)
A study in the state of Portland USA showed that some citizens underestimate the use of force by the police while a large population of the same overestimate the issue. The article goes ahead to explain that most of the public may not be aware of the several changes that have taken place in the police use of force since time in memorial. Most of the people agreed that a variety of programs need to be developed to educate the public so as to enhance the relationship between the police and the public. The public argues that this program will go a long way to ensuring transparency between the two groups. From the studies, it was found that people who had experienced the incidence of police use of force against them were more negative toward the police use of violence compared to those who didnt. These groups of people lacked total confidence in the complaints system. Some public and stakeholders were for the idea that the decision for the police to use force was most of the time based on stereotypes and preconceived perceptions on a particular group of people. (Cooper, Hannah LF,23-25)
Most of the people seemed to understand what it constitutes a legitimate use of force and the incidences. Most of the people agree with the fact that there is the need for clear communication between the police and public for enhanced service between the two bodies. The public argued that while the police use force, it should put into consideration the vulnerable people in the community which in most cases are the mentally retarded and other impairments. This is to take the appropriate measure while handling such. There was a special response among the public black when it comes to this issue of excessive use of force. But from most of the studies above 83% of the public agreed with the fact that they trusted the police to use some amount of reasonable force in their line of service. They say that the use of force in some situations is critical and should be embraced. Some article put it across that the public had limited knowledge on the type and extent of force the police are restricted to use by the law. The studies show that some of the members of the public view the use of force as a more readily utilized in the present days than in the former days. Even though this is so. Still, others see it the exact opposite of it. The public had the opinion that the use of force is mostly only limited to some cases such as those that pose a greater risk to the public individuals or the police. Most of the people of the public confessed that the use of firearms was very rare in the police force. From the surveys that have been conducted no type of force was more acceptable that the others. (Amilcar Scott & Rion, 7-54)
The use of force by the police is a very controversial issue in the world today. Different personalities have differences of opinion on the same subject. The views are found to differ according to race, social class and exposure to the force by the police. The police have a very different view on this issue, and this goes same for the other parties involved. More and more studies are being conducted every day to find a lasting solution to these disparities. This will go a long way in solving the disputes and ensuring that the concerned parties are comfortable that is, the police in their line of service and the citizen will be assured their right to freedom and security is enhanced. It is, therefore, important to bring to board the real issue and allow room for discussions to take place.
Amilcar Scott, Rion. "The Etiquette Of Police Brutality." Crisis (15591573) 122.1 (2015): 12.
Cooper, Hannah LF. "War On Drugs Policing And Police Brutality." Substance Use & Misuse 50.8/9 (2015): 1188-1194.
Jerome K and James J. Above The Law: Police And Excessive Use Of Force (1993) 145-187.
Magner, D.K. "Examining the explanations for police brutality." Chronicle of Higher Education 13 May 1992: A5.
Onyemaobim, Ikeda O. "The Michael Brown Legacy: Police Brutality and Minority Prosecution." George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal 26.2 (2016): 157-182
Scott, Pelley, and Quijano Elaine. "This Week We`Ve Been Deepening Our Reporting On A Controversy That`S Being Debated From Coast To Coast, The Excessive Use Of Force By Police, Especially Against Minorities." CBS Evening News With Katie Couric (n.d.
Winright, Tobias. "Militarized Policing. (Cover Story)." Christian Century 131.19 (2014)
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