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PoliceBrutality

GiannaMason

English12
Mrs.Whedon6thHour
March16,2016

Whenwearekidswearetaughtthatpoliceofficersareourfriendsandwillhelpifweare
introuble.Allyouhavetodoispickupaphoneanddial911andsomeonewillcometoyour
aid.However,todaymoreandmorepeoplelookatthepoliceasthreateningorharmfultothem
ortheirlovedones.Thepublicisshyingawayfromthepolicebecauseofpolicebrutalitycases
thathaveshockedourgreatnation.Accordingtoanarticleatdemocracynow.com,partofthe
reasonforthisisthatthenumberofpoliceofficerschargedinfatalshootingshashitahighfor
thedecade.(Garner)Someoftheproposedreasonsforthisalarmingstatisticare:lackof
fundingforpolicedepartments,faultytrainingtechniques,racialeconomicstereotypes,and
prejudice.
Thehistoryofpolicebrutalitygoesbackalongwaybutmaynothavebeenreported.
Thosethatwerereportedmainlyhappenedduringlaborstrikesorriotsduringthe1800s,which
attractedsignificantpublicandmediaattention.Eveninthe1800speoplebelievedthatthe
policeofficersweregoingaftertherelativelypowerlessgroups,suchasminorities,thedisabled,
theyoung,andthepoor.(Wikipedia.com).Backthen,officerswerearmedwithnightsticksor,if
youwereaplainclothedofficer,blackjacksasmallweaponsimilartoanightstickthatpacked
anevengreaterpunch.Eventuallytheyhadtooutlawtheuseofblackjacksbypolicebecauseof
theharmitcancause.
Ahistoricallyimportantpolicebrutalitycasewasreportedin1991,when
TheChicago
Tribune
broughttolightthebeatingofacivilianwhohadbeenunderarrestattheHarrisonStreet
policestationinLosAngeles.(wikipedia.com).ThesubjectwasRodneyKingwhowasbeaten
bytheLosAngelespolicedepartment.Reportsdidnotsaywhythepolicehadtotakeextreme
measuresofforceagainstthismanandeventodaynobodytrulyknowsthefullstory.

AndevenmorerecentandwellknownpolicebrutalitycasehappenedinFerguson,
Missouri,onAugust9,2014.EighteenyearoldMichaelBrownwaswalkingdownthestreet
withhisfriendDorianJohnsonwhentheywereapproachedbyofficerDarrenWilsonofthe
FergusonPolicewhohadjustbegunhisnightlyshift.OfficerWilsonsaidhefeltbothofthe
youngmenwereactingstrange.WhenOfficerWilsongotoutofhissquadcar,Michaelstarted
tofightwithhim.Theyoungmanfreedhimselfandbegantorunawaydowntheroadwith
Johnsonrightbyhisside.Wilsonstartedtochaseafterthem,whenMichaelturnedaroundand
startedrunningtowardtheofficer.Wilsonyelledathimtostoporhewouldshoot.Atthelast
possiblemomentBrownputhishandsupandofficerWilsonshothim.Accordingtosources
Brownwasshotatleastsixtimesduringtheencounter.(McLaughlin).

Manywitnessesthought
thattheofficerhadbeentreatingtheboysunfairlybecauseofthecoloroftheirskin.One
witnesssawthatWilsonshotatBrownashewasrunningaway,andBrownsbodyjerkedasif
hehadbeenshot.Mitchell(aneyewitness)saidBrown,turnedaroundandputhishandsup,
andtheofficercontinuedtowalkuponhimandshoothimuntilhegoesallthewaydowntothe
ground.Anotherwitness,PiagetCrenshaw,gaveasimilaraccount.(McLaughlin)
Lookingbackatthisshootingitcouldhavebeenprevented.InsteadofMichaelrunning
awayheshouldhavetalkedtotheofficer.Thatwouldhaveavoidedconflictandpossibly
avoidedtheofficerpullingouthisgunandshootingathim.Also,theofficeroverreactedinwhat
isreferredtoastheheatofthemoment,aninstancewhenyouareinahighstresssituationand
youractionsspeaklouderthanyourwords.Wilsonwasunawarehowmanytimesheshot
Michaelbecausehewasinahighstresssituation.(McLaughlin)

AnotherpolicebrutalitycaseisthatofStanislavPetrov.PolicecontendPetrovwas
runningawayfromtwoAlamedaCountypoliceofficersinSanFrancisco.Petrovhadstolena
carandintheprocessofgettingawayfromtheofficersthechaseendedonfoot.Itdidn'ttake
theofficer'slongtocatchupwithPetrovbecauseoftheirphysicalconditioning.Whenthey
caughtuptoPetrovtheytackledhimtothegroundanddetainedhim.ButwhilePetrovwason
thegroundtheofficersbeganviolentlybeatinghimwiththeirnightsticks,yellingwhatsounded
likeWhy'dyoufuckingrun!?(Thompson)Howevernooneknowsforsurebecauseit'salso
possiblehesaidsomethinglikegetonthefuckingground!(Thompson).Whenpolicebackup
arrivedtheyhadtopullthearrestingofficersoffofPetrovsotheywouldn'tcauseevenmore
harm.Witnessesstatedtheysawpolice...beatingtheabsolutehelloutofasuspectlyingprone
onthestreet(Thompson).Thisisanotherheatofthemomentexperience.Theofficer'sheart
ratewasupandsowashisadrenaline.Hewasunawareofhowmuchdamagehecausedtothe
victimuntilhewaspulledaway.Theywereundertrainedtohandlethementalpartoftheirjob.
Theydidn'tknowhowtocontrolthemselvestostopbeatingthesubject.
Adifficultpartofthejobofbeingapoliceofficeristhatyoudonotknowwhat'sgoingto
happenorwhatkindofpeopleyouaregoingtointeractwithonadailybasis,andwhentheyare
calledtheymustbereadyforanythingandeverything.Manytimeswhenofficersencounterthe
mentallychallengedmistakesaremade.AcaseoccurredonSeptember30,2015,inDallas,
Texas,whenaconcernedmotherofa
bipolarschizophrenicpersoncontactedpolicesayingher
sondidn'ttakehispills.Herson,38yearoldJasonHarrison,followedhertothefrontdoor.
Hewalkedoutside,twistingascrewdriverinhishands(
Pitts)
.Whenthepoliceofficers
showeduptheygavehimverbalcommandstoputthescrewdriverdown.Jasondidn'tlistenand

walkedtowardtheofficers.Eightsecondsafterhecametothedoor,JasonHarrisonlaydyingin
hismother'sdriveway.Hehadbeenshotfivetimes,twiceintheback.Theofficerssaidthey
wereforcedtoshootHarrisonafterhecameatthemwiththescrewdriverandfailedtofollow
instructionstodropit,buthisfamilysaysheneverposedanythreat.(
Pitts)
Thisisanothersad
caseofsomeonelosinghislife.
Withthepropertrainingthisallcouldhavebeenavoided.Thetrainingthattheseguys
arelackingthat'scausingthesetypeoftragediesinourcommunityiswhatneedstobechanged,
whatneedstobeaddressed,"saidJason'sbrotherDavidSeanHarrison.(
Pitts)
.
Thefirststeptomakingachangeisknowingthatyouhaveaproblem,butthenhowdowemake
thechange?A
ccordingtoapoliceresearchandpolicynonprofit,newrecruitstypicallyhave
60hoursoftrainingtolearnhowtohandleagun,butonlyeighthoursoftrainingtolearn
strategiesforhandlingthementallyill(Pitts).Thereasonofficersrespondtheywaytheydo
couldalsobebecauseofthetypeoftrainingtheofficersexperience.Whentheyattendapolice
academyitisrunsimilartoamilitarybootcamp.Intheacademy,policeofficershavealways
havebeentrainedtoshoottokill.
Theprogressionofthisproblemisratherabigdealaswell.Intoday'ssocietyitis
evidentthatmorepolicebrutalitycasesarebeingreported.It'snotuncommonthatpolice
officersfeelstressedoutandunderpressure.Accordingtoresearch,though,itisnotunusualfor
policetofailtoreporttheinappropriateanddangerousbehaviorotherpoliceofficers.(
Graphs,
Infographics
)Officerswhochoosetoreportthesemisbehaviorsoftenfeeltheyvebeengiven
thecoldshoulderfromotherofficers.Thepublicsperceptionisthatthepolicetakeadvantage
ofthepowerthattheyaregivenbysociety.Asurveyofwitnessesshowsthatoftenofficersuse

moreforcethannecessarytomakeanarrest(
Graphs,Infographics
).Excessivepoliceforceis
totallyagainsttheeighthamendmentwhichprohibitsthefederalgovernmentfromimposing
excessivebail,excessivefines,orcruelandunusualpunishment.Thepolicetakeanoathto
protectandservethecommunitynottohurt,buttohelp.
Ontheotherhand,policeworkisadmittedlydangerous,andofficershavearightto
protectthemselvesjustasanycitizenwould.Ifanindividualgivespoliceprobablecauseto
makeanarrest,thenthepoliceofficerfeelsyoudidbreakthelawandnowit'stimetofacethe
consequences.Waytoooften,goodcopsdon'tgettherecognitiontheydeserve,butthesmall
numberofbadcopsdrawhugeattention.Themajorityofpoliceofficersfollowprocedures.The
rarecaseswherethey'veexceededtheirauthorityreceivethemostpublicity,andrightlyso,butit
createsastereotype.
Therearemanysolutionstothisproblem.Thefirstoneistohaveeveryofficerwear
sometypeofbodycamera.Whetheritislocatedontheuniformorsunglasses,thiswillhelp
supervisorsandthepublicseewhatofficersareencountering.Ifyouhappentogotocourt,they
canusetherecordingasevidencetohelporhurtyou.Italsohelpsthepublictoprocesswhat
officersareexperiencingonthestreets.Bettertrainingtoimprovecommunityrelationsfor
policeofficersisalsoofgreatimportance.Itwillhelpindividualsfeellessthreatenedwhen
officerswearregularclothes,andtheencounterwillbemoreeffective.
"Wewalkin,it'snot
'Hey,I'mOfficerSmarro,thisisOfficerStevens.'It's,'Howyoudoing?...MynameisJoe.This
isErnie.WeworkwiththeSanAntonioPoliceDepartment.I'lldisplaymybadgethatIwear.
Weweartheseplainclothes.We'rejustheretohelpyou."
(Pitts)

Policealsoneedtrainingtobetterdefusedeadlyconfrontations.Theyneedtobeableto
controltheirhandsonencounters.Somesaypolice
needtolearnmorethanlogisticsof
policingbutalsothebroadersignificanceoftheirroleinsociety,
(Swarts).Alloftheabovecan
beasupportedbyfundingandtrainingbylocalandstatecommunities.
IwasfortunateenoughtointerviewDeputyCrystalMcCormickwhohasbeenadeputy
sheriffinJacksonCountyfor12yearsandworkedasaschoolofficerfortwoyears.Thefirst
questionIaskedherwas,WhydoyouthinkmoreAfricanAmericanpeoplearevictimsof
policebrutalitythanotherraces?Herresponse,wasUnknown.Ithinkthatthemedia
stressesthefactthatawhitepoliceofficerharmsanAfricanAmerican.
ThenextquestionIaskedherwaswhatkindoftrainingshouldthenewpoliceofficersgo
throughinordertohandlehighstresssituations?Theyshouldbedebriefedafterasituation.
Thatwillallowtheofficertoseewhattheydidandwhattheycouldhavedonebetter,shesaid.
Thiscouldhelpinsomanydifferentwaysbecausebettertrainingtechniquesmeansbetter
educatedpoliceofficers.
Unfortunatelythere'snomagicsecretthatsgoingtomakepolicebrutalitygoawayany
timesoon.However,withtheproperfunding,moreadvancedtrainingtechniques,andavoiding
stereotypesthiscanimprovetheviewonpoliceofficersgreatly.Hopefully,insteadofthepublic
runningawayfromthem,theywillruntowardthemintimesofneedandsupportthemforthe
protectiontheyprovide.Onlytimewilltellifthissocialissuewillbechangedforthebetter.

WorksCitedPage

AVideoCompilationofLasVegasPoliceBrutalityviaSubmission.N.d.Nevada
CopBlock.Web.10Mar.2016.

Graphs,Infographics
.Digitalimage.
InfographicsGraphsnet
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2016.

LethalForce."TheFreeDictionary.com.Wikipedia
,n.d.Web.07Mar.2016.

Lucas,Liza."ChangingtheWayPoliceRespondtoMentalIllness."
N.p.,6July2015.
Web.2Feb.2016.

McLaughlin,EliottC."WhatWeKnowabouttheMichaelBrown'sShooting."
N.p.,15
Aug.2014.Web.7Mar.2016.

Pitts,Byron,JackieJesko,andLaurenEffron."ABCNewstheDeadlyConsequencesand
Police/properTrainingtoHandleMentallyIllnessCalls."
N.p.,30Sept.2015.Web.22
Feb.2016.

PoliceBrutality."Wikipedia,
n.d.Web.7Mar.2016.

Scorates,BlaQ."Volume&PublicSpace."
Weblogpost.
Volume&PublicSpace
.N.p.,
1May2015.Web.11Mar.2016.

Swarts,Phillip."PoliceNeedBetterTrainingandCommunityRelations,Presidential
TaskForceIsTold."

WashingtonTimes
.TheWashingtonTimes,13Jan.2015.Web.07Mar.
2016.

"ThisIsTrauma:EricaGarner&RamseyOrtaonCopingwiththeAftermathofaPolice
Killing(Pt.2)."
DemocracyNow!Democracynow,12Jan.2015.Web.07Mar.2016.

Thompson,Chris."Here'sVideoofCopsBeatingtheAbsoluteHelloutofaSuspect
LyingProneontheStreets."
N.p.,11Nov.2015.Web.07Mar.2016.

(
AVideo
CompilationofLasVegasPoliceBrutalityviaSubmission.
)

(Scorates)