Anything you say can and will be used against you… ” ” police officers everywhere say before arresting an individual. Police officers are entrusted by the people to protect and defend those in need no matter what race, age, culture, or religion a person may be. But what if that was not the case anymore. What if we are putting our lives in the hands of those that can be corrupted, racist, and bias? Events such as the Rodney King case, Ferguson, and many more have shown that police officers these days are acting with ore unnecessary force than needed.
Police officers are trained to react to a life or death situation with force if needed to protect their own lives. Given that these men and women in the police force are trained for the sole purpose of protection and to defend civilians, I believe that somewhere along the line there starts to be personal affiliations which can be blinding to an individual’s sense of justice. We see more coverage of police officers killing, shooting, or beating civilians than police officers risking their lives to save someone or generally doing something for the greater good of the public.
Police officers have used unnecessary force on individuals, abusing their authoritative powers. That being said, there are officers that do their jobs using a lack of force or are hesitant in their actions which ultimately results in losing their own lives. In this essay I will speak about events of police brutality as well as shining a light on police officers that have lost their lives responding to duty. Unfortunately, we Americans like to focus on the bad that others do to one another more than the good.
That being said, majority of the times, the incidents that actually make the media are the cases where police officers se force which ultimately ends or scars another’s life emotionally or physically. A very well-known case of police brutality is the Rodney King case. Rodney King was an African American motorist who led a ten minute police chase in California. When King stopped and exited his car, police officers demanded that he lie down; instead he went down on all fours which initiated attack from Sergeant Stacey Koon.
Koon shot King twice with an electric taser while the other passengers in the vehicle were cuffed and “laid prone on the street”(WilIiams). A bystander caught the ongoing abuse of three white fficers beating King on tape while other police officers just stood by. He was hospitalized and “received twenty stitches and treatment for a broken cheekbone and broken ankle” as well as having broken teeth, “injured kidneys, multiple skull fractures, and permanent brain damage” (Williams).
While there were twenty- three officers that responded to the chase, only four were “indicted for their role in the beating’- Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, and Theodore Briseno. Due to the fact that the location of the beating and trial was in predominantly a white majority area, these officers ere acquitted. On the other hand, people seem to ignore the fact that these men and women in the police force need to not only be physically strong, but mentally as well. They have to deal with taking or ruining an individual’s life.
We always hear about the tragedies that police officers may have caused, rarely do we ever hear about the lives of officers the police departments have lost due to dealing with the wrong people at the wrong time the wrong way. Sue Nickerson’s son was a police officer that worked in Centreville, Maryland who was responding to a noise complaint call in a trailer park. When her son rrived to the trailer, Frank Zito would not allow the officers to come in and refused to turn down the music. Zito was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder” (“Ineffective Handling ofthe Mentally Ill Causes Police Brutality. “). When the officers tried to forcefully enter his home, Zit0 shot and killed them. Loretta Cerbelli’s son had a mental disease called schizophrenia and apparently has been treated for the disease for years. Kevin Cerbelli walked into a police station with a screwdriver, rosary, and a knife and ended up stabbing a police officer that was holding the door open for him.
Officers urrounded Cerbelli and tried to use a nonlethal taser to immobilize him. But that did not affect him so officers shot Kevin. I believe that what some may consider to be police brutality may be over exaggerated and if they were in the officers shoes, they would protect themselves whatever the means may be. With that in mind, what one may see as brutality may be seen as self- defense in the eyes of an outside party. However, there are more known scandals of police brutality than there are of good police work.
But that is only because it is what the media believes to be the most effective way for a response from the public. For example, recently we’ve seen a lot of coverage over the Ferguson event in Missouri. This event stirred up a very emotional response from the public. Michael Brown, an 1 8-year old African American, was shot by a white police officer named Darren Wilson, leaving 8 bullet wounds. Brown was supposedly jay-walking in the middle of the streets when Wilson ordered him and his friend to move to a sidewalk. When they struggled to disobey the officer, Wilson started firing his gun.
Focused on Brown, he shot him five times, killing him(“Shooting of Michael Brown”). This rose questions about excessive force used by police officers. It’s hard to imagine what would justify multiple gunshots at an individual going way from the police who’s unarmed,” says Peter Joy a law professor at Washington university Law School in St. Louis (A Legal Look: Reasonable force or police brutality against Mike Brown? ). The Michael Brown shooting was effective in getting a rise from the public. The response that was resulted was an extreme anger and violence.
Because people wanted justice for the death of Brown, people of Ferguson started to protest. You can see in Figure 1 that police officers are taking things to an extreme. Some people may agree that the orce used was necessary; others say that it was over the top. The people of Ferguson did become more uneasy throughout the weeks of the Ferguson trial and more violence was shown by them. Bricks were getting thrown at police officers and the protests went from a peaceful want for justice, to an enraged anger against the police officers.
Referencing back to figure one, the police officers are responding to the angrified citizens, but to me, it looks like they are suiting up for war in Iraq and getting ready to go against terrorists. Using violence against violence will not solve any problems, but in fact create more. A picture is worth a thousand words, and if you displayed that picture to anyone and asked what they were looking at, the person would respond something along the lines of, “It looks like they are getting ready to shoot terrorists. ” What reason would they have to be readily armed with guns out at a protest?
However, for all we know, these were orders given to the police force to use if they deemed necessary. So can we blame them for what it looks like the force of peace using weapons if they are merely just doing their jobs? Are the military tactics and weapons being used in the police force increasing the safety of Americans? Some may agree to disagree that the military tactics and weapons that are used in local police force give off a war-like mentality to citizens or it actually “saves police lives and ensures public safety( “Militarization of the Police’).
Starting off with the opposing view stated in the article “Militarization of the Police. “, “Opponents of providing police departments with military equipment argue that it distorts the purpose of police departments”to maintain the peace”and damages police department’s relationships with the communities they serve. ” Local police are suppose to protect the community and keep haos from havocing. They are not in battle and the majority of citizens that they have sworn to protect are not their enemies or terrorists.
But because we dress them up to look like soldiers, they start behaving like they are in battle every day. Meaning that they are always paranoid that a threat may be right around the corner, putting innocent citizens in danger. On the other hand, one may agree that by training officers with miliatry tactics and weapons actually helps save more lives, maintain peace, and enforces the law. The weapons and vehicles that local police force receive are used more than to just fight crime.
For instance, the night vision goggles they receive not only bust drug crimes but also helps find missing children and the elderly(“Militarization of the Police”). When these weapons are being used, they are carefully monitored by the Homeland Security Department to make sure that the use is not abused by officers. Our local police force put their lives out on the line between the public and the dangerous criminals every day and just having a handgun is not good enough protection. Don’t the people that are voluntarily risking their lives in front of our own deserve to have top notch protection on them?
To understand why police officers react the way they do to some situations, it is important to shine a light on not only the dangers caused by the police force, but also the dangers the police force put themselves into every day. Media focuses mostly on the tragedies of how an officer reacts, but is negligent to the news of those officers that lose their lives when they hesitate to take action. This results in the public seeing the police force as evil instead of just. Yes, there are some officers that do take things to an extreme, and many times, their actions are not justifiable.