POLICE BRUTALITY 1
The police play a critical role in society as its key protectors.Nevertheless, there have been plenty of incidents where lawenforcement agents manifested racism, excessive use of force, andcorruption. Inevitably, such forms of misconduct have dented theimage of the police. In the U.S., the narrative that law enforcementpersonnel discriminate against African Americans is gaining currency.Consequently, lobby groups such as the Black Lives Matter have beenestablished to campaign for equal treatment (Garcia & Sharif,2015). Unjustified shooting by law enforcement agents is the cause ofincreasing racial tensions in the U.S. In order to reduce policebrutality in America, they should be required to wear body camerasand undergo re-training exercises whenever they use excessive force.
According to Garcia and Sharif (2015), police brutality is currentlyconsidered to be one of the most serious violations of human rightsand civil liberties in the United States. This is as a result ofunjustified shootings, fatal choking, severe beatings, and roughtreatment by police (Garcia & Sharif, 2015). In fact, severalAfrican Americans have been fatally shot although they were unarmed.Besides, some law enforcement agents have been cited for usingexcessive force on confrontational blacks. Other civilians have alsobeen mistreated while in police custody. In particular, someindividuals have been denied access to an attorney beforeinterrogation. Others have been remanded for longer than 48 hoursbefore the filing of official charges. Consequently, systemicdiscrepancies by police have set precedents for the emergence ofracial tensions in the U.S.
In 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot dead by George Zimmerman in Florida.Although the 17-year old boy was armed, the officer presumed hisguilt since the latter was black and wore a hoodie. Hence, the highschool student could not have survived the encounter. Notably, theshooter was a neighborhood watch crime captain sworn to protect thecommunity. The subsequent arrest and release of Zimmerman gavecredence to the lobby movement, Black Lives Matter (Alvarez &Buckley, 2013). Other African Americans have also been killed at thehands of the police. Such individuals include Michael Brown ofFerguson and Eric Garner of Missouri (Garcia & Sharif, 2015). Inparticular, Brown, 18, was unarmed and held his hands aloft in totalsurrender. Nevertheless, the police officer was intent on ending hislife. Therefore, such incidents served to promote the narrative thatAfrican American lives do not matter.
The latest occurrences of police brutality show that unjustifiedshootings will promote racial hatred by pitting blacks againstwhites. In areas such as Boston, there appears to be systemicdiscrimination in the criminal justice system. Although AfricanAmericans comprise less than 25% of the population, they account forover 60% of searches and interrogations (Cook, 2014). In 2015, 15% ofthe total deaths due to police shootings were black males below theage of 34 (Swaine, Laughland, Lartey, & McCarthy, 2015). Bycomparison, this demographic group forms only 2% of the country’spopulation. Furthermore, at least one death in almost all states wascaused by police shooting. 17% of the slain whites did not carry afirearm yet 25% of murdered blacks were unarmed (Swaine et al.,2015). In fact, African Americans were killed by police at twice therates of their counterparts. Additionally, for every 65 deaths ofblacks, at least one was perpetrated by a police officer (Swaine etal., 2015). Therefore, such blatant incidents of unjustified shootingreinforce the racial hatred between whites and African Americans.
Besides, racial tensions have intensified due to campaigns bymovements such as Black Lives Matter. In this regard, such bodiessensitize the government and members of the public to the occurrenceof unjustified shooting (Garcia & Sharif, 2015). News channelsand forms of social media cover the activities of many lobby groups.Hence, information spreads quickly when a black person becomes avictim of police firepower. In many instances, the circumstances atthe time of the shooting are rarely sought nor reported. Black LivesMatter may hold extended demonstrations to demand justice for themurders of African Americans. Therefore, the public campaigns oflobby groups can exacerbate the racial tensions between blacks andwhites.
Granted, recent incidents of police brutality seemingly show thatblacks are unfairly profiled by law enforcement agents.Notwithstanding, nothing could be further from the truth due to amisrepresentation of facts. Notably, police officers operate under astrict code of regulations that deters racial profiling (Garcia &Sharif, 2015). Moreover, law enforcement agents are mandated toportray professionalism during confrontations with suspectedcriminals. Disciplinary measures have also been established toinvestigate and punish any police officers, who abuse their power andhence disgrace the badge. In fact, mandatory leaves of absence areenforced in the case of any agent involved in a shooting.Furthermore, police officers are required to wear body cameras forthe purpose of accountability (Ariel, Farrar, & Sutherland,2015). Dashboard footage also records the interactions between lawenforcement personnel and suspected criminals. Subsequently, reviewsare conduced to establish the circumstances of a particular incident.Therefore, such regulations make it highly improbable that policeofficers would deliberately perpetrate unjustified shootings.
Additionally, public campaigns by vocal lobby groups are the realcauses of racial tensions within the U.S. In particular, the BlackLives Matter movement spreads the narrative that African Americansbear the brunt of police brutality (Garcia & Sharif, 2015). Infact, isolated incidents of unjustified shooting are used to formgeneralizations. In this respect, all white police officers arepresumed as racist while all deaths of blacks are assumed to bediscriminatory. Although each encounter has unique factors, the mereoccurrence of shooting under unexplained circumstances createssensational reports. In many instances, lobby groups use social mediato foster their agenda (Obasogie & Newman, 2016). Hence, whiteAmericans may feel slighted since many of them also experience policebrutality. Consequently, lobby groups create and intensify the racialtensions prevalent in the country.
Indeed, unjustified shooting by police officers has led to animositybetween whites and blacks in the U.S. Notably, recent incidents ofpolice brutality have had a substantial contribution to the increasein racial tensions. Crime figures and reports have also shown theundisputed discrimination that plagues the country’s justicesystem. Nonetheless, movements such as Black Lives Matter havecreated and enhanced racial hatred. In this respect, endless publiccampaigns and events designed to foster their agenda only serve toisolate the whites. Ultimately, police brutality affects people fromall races. Furthermore, law enforcement agents adhere to a strictcode of regulations that condemns unprofessional conduct. Policeofficers are also admonished against racial profiling. Besides, bodyand dashboard cameras are used to record interactions with suspectedcriminals. Law enforcement personnel must be investigated and clearedwhenever suspicions are raised. Therefore, police brutality does notsuffice to be labeled as a cause of racial tensions within the U.S.
Alvarez, L., & Buckley, C. (2013). Zimmerman is acquitted inTrayvon Martin killing. The New York Times. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/us/george-zimmerman-verdict-trayvon-martin.html?pagewanted=1&emc=eta1
Ariel, B., Farrar, W. A., & Sutherland, A. (2015). The effect ofpolice body-worn cameras on use of force and citizens’ complaintsagainst the police: A randomized controlled trial. Journal ofQuantitative Criminology, 31(3), 509-535.
Cook, L. (2014, December 11). No, Justice is Not Colorblind. U.S.News. Retrieved fromhttp://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2014/12/11/no-justice-is-not-colorblind
García, J. J., & Sharif, M. Z. (2015). Black lives matter: Acommentary on racism and public health. American Journal of PublicHealth, 105(8), E27-E30.
Obasogie, O. K., & Newman, Z. (2016). Black Lives Matter andRespectability Politics in Local News Accounts of Officer-InvolvedCivilian Deaths: An Early Empirical Assessment. Wis. L. Rev.,541.
Swaine, J., Laughland, O., Lartey, J., & McCarthy, C. (2015,December 31). Young black men killed by US police at highest rate inyear of 1,134 deaths. The Guardian. Retrieved fromhttps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/31/the-counted-police-killings-2015-young-black-men