Police are law enforcers of the nation, mandated with authority to manage community peace and security. As enforcers of laws, they underwent substantive education on security management and crime prevention strategies. Laid with high expectations from constituents, they are expected to perform their roles and mandates professionally and in observance to international humanitarian standards. However, empirical evidences showed otherwise as emerging abuses and police brutality are mounted by civilian communities.
This essay will explicate police brutality in United States and delve into records of frequency, severity and ramification of police brutality exacted against civilians.
Police brutality is one of those alarming human rights violations done by person of authorities against civilians who are possible suspects or those already serving their sentences as adjudged criminals. Roberts (2011) pointed that in youtube alone, an e-site containing video records, produced about 497,000 results when “police brutality” is subjected into the search engine. Roberts (2011) described that these videos either depict beaten women, kids and the aged or violent and bloody exaction of testimonies from unwilling suspects. Some testimonies of victims who were able to undergo sad ordeal revealed electrocution; suffocation, psychological torment or threat; emotional shocks; direct physical assault, and the like done by police with psychopatic and sociopath tendencies. Skolnick and Fyfe (1993) explicated that police brutality brought along with it such dehumanizing intent by treating the target with such concealed venality and such degrading impact of violent torture.
Roberts (2011) attributed this inhuman way of managing suspects, civilians and victims to militarist treatment as abuse of power. Those who are involved in police brutality tactics are characterized with such nastiness as they were trained to view the public, the people whom they ought to secure, as their enemy. To some extent, some police officers have made policing activity leveled beyond preservation of order into cyclical patterns of injustice as commission of human rights. Often logged without witnesses to corroborate the conduct of brutalities, Bandes (1999) noted that authorities would just label this as an incident which is either isolated, systemic, or part of a larger pattern to suppress a movement. Bandes (1999) explicated that police brutality are often portrayed by court as something anecdotal, fragmented and isolated from institutional pattern (p. 1275) reinforced by causes that could be political, social, psychological and cultural (Bandes, 1999, p. 2). Experts opined that victims of police brutality would have difficulty expressing such unfair victimization because complaints about it are discouraged due to dearth of evidences, lack of corroborative testimonies, records are expunged, and police records are purposively made inaccessible. Victims are also doubly confronted with difficulty in baring experiences out of restrictive evidentiary rulings, of judicial insensitivity to police perjury, of the law of omerta or total silence, of assailant’s immunity from punitive actions (Bandes, 1999, p. 7). Thus, there is perceived failure to correct endemic system of police lawlessness and adherence to violence, often directed to powerless and marginalized members of specific communities.
Police brutality is not simply a violent act. More often, these are kinds of security managers who are in collaboration with groups and decision-makers who lacked respect to procedures that are legally provided. The prevalence of these cases on police brutality simply depict the need to address the problem not only at the institutional level but must be comprehensively rectified by in-depth investigation; of brutality cases demystification, and strict enforcement of the administrative laws to hasten the professionalization of police forces. Empirical studies based on selected cases further showed that police brutalities aren’t investigated with expediency or effectiveness, and unless the case is focused with media mileage, no administrative actions are instituted by executive authorities.
The case of Rodney Glen King is a classic and most prominent example of police brutality. King, a divorcee with kids, was violently harmed and beaten by police enforcers of Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) sometime in 1991 after he was caught by authorities robbing a store and have gravely threatened and lambasted the storeowner with an iron bar (Cannon, 1999). King was beaten by police badly and such incident was captured by media workers who magnified it to public eyes, and subsequently caused dissension amongst black community—people who have viewed the incident as glaring proof of racial prejudice and discrimination (Cannon, 1999). Police were subjected in a court trial but whose acquittal resulted to riots at LA in 1992. Civil suits were later charged against the enforcers which jailed two officers while two others were acquitted (Cannon, 1999).
In a subsequent case, King and his two other companies were arrested by police officers due to over speeding at a highway and driving his car with alcohol’s influence (Cannon, 1999). Albeit police warning, King ignored them. He also made some resistance while authorities were about to handcuff him. Police used taser to subdue him but was later prompted to beat him with56 batons blows which caused him 11 skull fractures and brain damage, broken joints, bones and teeth. Medical test further proved that King was using marijuana. He was likewise severely ridiculed by enforcers while at such state (Cannon, 1999).
Out of this incident, LA lawyers sued the police officers for excessive use of violent force to King and of administrative negligence due to his inability of the supervisor to order the stoppage of further assaults to King (Cannon, 1999). The trial orbited with procedural sensitivities until the jury of Ventura Country decided for the acquittal of accused policemen (Cannon, 1999). The decision was however unacceptable for US president and other executives citing that King is a victim of police brutality (Cannon, 1999). The impact of such decision and resulted to violence rooted by blackmen-sponsored riots in LA which killed a number of persons, wounded thousands, damaged the national economy and incurred financial losses (Cannon, 1999).
After he recovered, King appealed for peace on television and the Department of Justice of United States revived the investigation. The case resulted to the imprisonment of Laurence Powell and Sergeant Satcey Koon (Cannon, 1999). Wind and Briseno were acquitted. King was indemnified with $3.8 million from said civil suit (Cannon, 1999).
The case of King did not end there. It happened with many others. Indeed, the cited cases remind government authorities to further improve and professionalize policemen of their duties in managing peace and order. On the other hand, there is also a need for civilian populace to exercise their rights with sobriety, to be lawful and to act with propriety. People ought to realize that peace and order, isn’t the sole responsibility of police authorities. It is likewise the role of the civilian community to maintain community peace, although they must also reassert their constitutional rights in case they become object of police brutality and other relate or form of human rights violations. Meanwhile, stakeholders of peace and justice should maintain their vigilance to uphold human rights at all times and to act with moral uprightness.
Roberts, Paul Craig (2011). Police Brutality in the USA: Americans, Too, Are Oppressed. Global Research: Center for research on Globalization
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23076 Accessed: September 22, 2011.
Bandes, Susan (1999). Patterns of Injustice: Police Brutality in the Courts. 47 Buff. L. Rev. 1275
Bandes, Susan (1999). Patterns of Injustice: Police Brutality in the Courts. http://www.nlg-npap.org/html/documents/Bandes–PoliceBrutality.pdf Accessed: September 22, 2011. pp. 1-103.
Jerome H. Skolnick and James J. Fyfe, (1993). Above the Law:Police and the Excessive Use of Force at 19. The Free Press, New York.
Cannon, Lou (1999). Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the riots changed Los Angeles and the LAPD. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.