Is Police Violence a Real Problem in Society?
OMG!!!! There is so much discrimination around me please helppppp!!!! Police violence is a controversial issue that has many sides to it, but what is the brutal truth? Is it a real problem? Many people think that it is real and that police officers abuse the amount of power they have. On the other hand, many people think that police brutality is not real and that it is an officers job to use their power no matter to what extent they have to go to.
We all know that it is an officers job to save lives, protect, and watch out for crime in any community but recently, police officers have shown too much aggressiveness while doing their job. They have also shown brutality to just a specific race of people. The black community is affected every day and they no longer confide in the law enforcement because they are losing many loved ones.
Police officers also tend to get away with their aggressive behavior towards blacks as well as the deaths that result from such brutality. Police violence is a real problem in society because police officers abuse the power they have by showing excessive aggression, targeting a specific racial group, and by getting away with the aggressions and deaths.
As we all know, police officers take an oath to serve the community and also take the oath to protect it by enforcing the law.
There are many officers who take advantage of this power by showing unnecessary and excessive aggression. Ben Fields is an officer who was accused of abusing his power at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina. There is a disturbing video on the internet showing the officer dragging a black female student from her desk after she refused to give her cellphone to the officer. The video sparked controversy on the internet. Fields was then accused of using excessive force, but no charges were pressed. According to the New York Times, the officer wrapped his forearm around her neck, flipped her and the desk backwards onto the floor, tossed her towards the front of the room and handcuffed her (Deputy ). This misconduct could have been avoided and handled very differently. Officer Ben Fields in North Carolina showed unreasonable use of force towards a female student who was just sitting in her desk. No other alternatives were used or thought of. In the video, no warnings were given to the girl saying that she was going to be removed from her desk. The student did no harm to the officer and she still got dragged across the classroom. There could have been a better approach to the situation. This just shows how police officers abuse the power they are given. The student was doing nothing for the officer to aggressively approach her in that way. He had no reason to have brutally arrested her the way he did over a cellular device. Another incident where excessive aggression was shown was with the Eric Garner case in New York. This famous incident made a huge impact in the controversial topic of police brutality. This video was also very alarming and disturbing. Police officers had suspicions that Eric Garner was selling single cigarettes but Garner told the NYPD officials that he was not selling cigarettes and that he was tired of being accused of this. The New York police then arrested Garner while putting him in a chokehold. While in the chokehold, Garner was yelling that he could not breathe, but officers ignored him and continued the arrest. Garner died of compression to the neck and chest because of that unnecessary chokehold. There is a difference between reasonable force and excessive force. The officers had the power to aggressively arrest Eric Garner and they took advantage of that power and it resulted in a death. These officers have been poorly trained and are behaving unprofessionally in an academy that is supposed to protect the lives of the citizens. These two incidents could have been dealt in a different way, and also sparked controversy nationally and proved that police violence and brutality is in fact a real problem.
People who believe that police violence is not real might argue otherwise. They might argue that police officers have the right to use as much force as they need to use. In order for them to do their jobs, they need to be able to do what they were trained to do. On the debate.org site, the question about police brutality was put to debate. One comment said, if people were not breaking the law than they would not have negative interactions with law enforcement officers. (Debate.org). The reality is that everyone is not perfect and everyone makes mistakes. If everyone was perfect then the whole idea of enforcing the law would not exist. The opposing side could also argue that if the suspect resists, then the police have the right to use as much force as they want. Yes the officers have the right to use as much force as they want, but excessively using force does violate the 4th amendment. In the 1989 case of Graham v. Connor, The Supreme Court ruled that police use of force must be objectively reasonable (Kappeler). In a way, police officers do have an extent to where they can use their force. They are never above the law regardless of their profession. They in fact can be sued for excessive force. The cases that talked about the misuse of the police power should be an eye opener for anyone who still believes that police violence is not a real problem. This type of violence is a real problem that the opposing side should be aware of instead of ignoring it and instead of making excuses for it.
Besides abusing their power, police officers tend to target a specific racial group. The Black community has been greatly affected. Lives have been lost and they are tired of being targeted. Blacks along with minorities in general are more likely to be shot, abused, arrested, and stopped by the police. According to Mapping Police Violence, The police killed 1,147 people in 2017. Black people were 25% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population. Blacks are 3 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. (Mapping Police Violence.) Racial profiling is the issue here. The police kill and abuse blacks for simply being black. Racism will always play a role here. The skin color of these people automatically makes them an object of suspicion to the police. Blacks have to be more careful when confronting the police. They have to take extra precautions than whites. Michael Birzer is a criminology professor at Wichita State University who investigates interactions with minorities and the police. In one of his researches he claims, During a negative encounter where there is an arrest, generally use of force is used at a higher rate with African-American citizens when compared to Caucasians. (Birzer.) He mentions how the police officers do not document what led to the force that was used against blacks but instead, they just document that force was indeed used. This most likely means the suspect did nothing for force to have been used. Police officers are more discriminating against blacks than any other race. Statistics will always show how blacks are unfairly treated and most likely to be targeted even when they may not be committing a crime. Police officers use the power and authority they have by choosing to target blacks. This is a type of police misconduct that is related to police violence.
Police officers use excessive force and tend to target blacks but while doing so, they also get away with their misconduct and the brutality they use against blacks. Getting away with their misconduct angers everyone who believes that police violence is a real problem. Convictions are never given to the officers who have shown that they have been brutal towards many blacks. In some cases, police officers are so brutal that they end up killing the suspect. Convictions are also rarely given to the officers who have killed innocent blacks. According to Mapping Police Violence, 99% of cases in 2015 have not resulted in any officers involved being convicted of crime. (Mapping police Violence.) Charges are pressed against these officers as well as convictions but the consequences are never given to these officers. They always claim it was for self-defense so they tend to get away with it. There was a case in 2015 where six officers faced no charges in result of the death of Freddie Gray. Freddie Gray was falsely accused of having an illegal knife in Baltimore. It turned out that the knife he was carrying was legal in Baltimore and the arrest was illegal. Gray was arrested and taken away in a van. Inside the van, Gray was suffering from a spine injury that eventually caused his death. Not only did the officers illegally arrest him but they did not follow the police department regulations. He was handcuffed but was not properly secured in the van. It is said that while the van was moving so was Gray. The police misconduct was basically ignored because all charges were taken away and all six police officers still continued to keep their job in the department. This lack of attention toward Freddie Gray is a form of police violence because it resulted in a death. His death was ruled a homicide but no one got put behind bars because of this homicide. Conviction should have been given to all six officers but instead, they got away with it. New York Times said The bar for charging police officers with federal civil rights violations is extremely high, and prosecutions are rare. This just shows how six police officers still managed to keep their jobs even after illegally arresting Gray and also by not following protocols.
Police violence is a controversial issue that will always have many sides to it. The opposing side will always argue that police violence is a myth because it is an officers job to use as much force as they wish. In my argument, I strongly believe police violence is a real problem. It is a real problem because police officers abuse the authority they are given by using excessive force. The incidents of the student at Spring Valley High School and Eric Garner demonstrate how excessive force was used. The force used was unnecessary and disturbing. Police officers also tend to automatically target Blacks and the Black community. Statistics show how blacks are more likely to be killed than white people. Police are most likely to find suspicions in a black. Lastly, police officers get away with the aggression they use. They also get away with deaths of many innocent victims. Statistics also show how officers are not convicted and the case of Freddie Gray also showed the same. Awareness should always be shown toward police violence. The Campaign Zero campaign raises awareness and proposes 10 actions to reduce and end police violence. The 10 proposals to end police violence include better training, body cams and limiting the use of force among with many other proposals. Campaigns like these propose resolutions to end police violence. With the help of the community, they strongly believe they can achieve that goal. Their website wants support from the community and encourages the community to demand action from their representatives. Demanding action will help end police violence or help at least reduce it. Everyone should feel protected by the police but the actions of some officers make it difficult to confide in them. It is a police officers job to serve the community and do no harm while doing so. Police violence has made it harder for anyone to feel safe. Being aware and engaging in the Zero campaign will make a difference in this world. Doing nothing will only train and pass corrupt police officers into the academy. Are you willing to make a difference in this world by helping end police violence?
Campaign Zero. Campaign Zero, www.joincampaignzero.org/#campaign.
Deputy Who Tossed a S.C. High School Student Won’t Be Charged. The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 Dec. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2016/09/03/afternoonupdate/deputy-who-tossed-a-sc-high-school-student-wont-be-charged.html.
How Objective Is the Objective Reasonableness Standard in Police Brutality Cases? A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing | Police Studies Online, plsonline.eku.edu/insidelook/how-objective-objective-reasonableness-standard-police-brutality-cases.
Is Police Brutality a Problem? Debate.org, www.debate.org/opinions/is-police-brutality-a-problem.
Lunsford, Andrea A., et al. Everything’s an Argument: with Readings. Bedford/St. Martins, A Macmillan Education Imprint, 2016.
Manna, Nichole. Police More Likely to Use Force against Black Wichitans. Chief Looks for Fixes. Kansas, The Wichita Eagle, www.kansas.com/news/local/crime/article209471239.html.
Ruiz, Rebecca R. Baltimore Officers Will Face No Federal Charges in Death of Freddie Gray. The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Sept. 2017,