Police brutality refers to the excessive use of force intentionally by police officers which could be in form of physical torture, verbal or even psychological intimidation. The campaigns against police brutality have been on the rise due to an increase in the cases involving police brutality in many parts of the world. Police brutality amounts to police misconduct which comprises acts like false arrest, sexual abuse, corruption, surveillance abuse, political repression, intimidation and racial profiling.
However, police are given powers to use reasonable force to prevent or repress unlawful conducts in a certain place. The question as to the limit of force which police officers should employ on suspected criminals or for unlawful acts is highly debated. Defending themselves, police officers purported to have acted brutally often argue that they were carrying out their duties as stipulated by the police act. Also, most of the reported cases of police brutality are sidelined and police officers purported to have committed the crime are never punished.
Laxity by the judiciary to prosecute police officers who are brutal has only increased police brutality in the world (Jackall, para 2-3). The research paper will focus on the forms of police brutality as viewed from different perspectives. It will seek the answer the question of whether use of force by police officers amount to police brutality or are the police officers just carrying out their tasks and duties. Use of force: Police brutality or just carrying out of official police duties?
Different arguments for and against police brutality has been put forward with some group of individuals arguing that use of force by police officers is part of their daily jobs. Another group of persons feel that use though officers are allowed to use force, usually that force is misused and abused amounting to acts of misconduct. However, whether an act amounts to acts of police brutality depends on the prevailing circumstances as is verified by the different judgments passed on similar cases.
Police abuse amounts to violation of human rights though these abuses are rarely brought to the court due to lack of accountability in this sector. Reports of brutality are often denied or termed just as acts of aberration thus granting the victimized officers impunity rather than holding them accountable (Canaday, para 2). Police cultures like the blue code of silence have contributed greatly to the increasing cases of police brutality without remedy. Pressure to conform to such a culture translates to protecting an officer even when he or she violates the law.
Police brutality which has been on the rise in the recent times raises questions on the form of ethical rules which officers’ exercise and also the logical arguments behind these brutalities. To understand the extent of police brutalities in the country, it is essential to evaluate the different forms of such brutalities which include physical abuse, sexual abuse, and racial segregation among others. While in the line of duty, police officers should apply the police force ethics to ensure no unnecessary force is used.
However, some instances requires use of logical reasoning to ensure that decisions undertaken yield more good for the greater benefit of the society (Koenig, para 4-5). Physical abuse through beatings is one of the most notable acts of police brutality in America as well as other countries. Police officers are filmed beating suspected criminals on many occasions. Most of the suspected criminals surrender voluntarily to the police officers but the police officers brutally beat them and even at times shoot them. Also, most of these suspected criminals are not a threat to the safety of the officers since they do not posses any weapon.
Instead of police officers arresting such individuals and taking them to be allayed in a court of law, they are brutally beaten before being taken to jail awaiting prosecution. Some of the offenders are petty criminals and at times even minors involved in traffic misconduct. Such individuals are brutally beaten by the officers and it amounts to violation of human rights. This is unethical on the part of the police force. Ethics require that a person alleged to have committed a criminal act or an offense should be taken to court and not physically abused.
However, prosecuting such an officer is hard since most of the juries are always unwilling to punish their officers. Where a defendant is successful in prosecuting an officer, the officers are only fired and mostly not jailed (Canaday, para 7). Sexual abuse is also another form of brutality subjected mostly to female persons who are in the police custody. Women who are in police custody awaiting prosecution are subjected to sexual abuse by the officers. At times this is used as a means to solicit information from a person while at times is just a form of punishment by the police officers.
A person is subjected to humiliating experiences by the officers both mental and physical and mental. At times such persons are innocent but such experiences make them confess some crimes they never committed. Such acts are brutal since there are other better methods of obtaining or soliciting information from individuals rather than subjecting them to mental and physical torture. Most of the sexual abuse cases are rarely addressed since they are practiced within the police departments and the juries are reluctant to prosecute their officers. Individuals subjected to this form of abuse are emotionally tormented and unstable.
This is unethical since use of sexual abuse as a means of soliciting information have long lasting effect on the subject. Interrogation is a more logical approach since its effects are not carried over even after a person is acquitted or convicted (Shabazz, para 5). Police officers are also very brutal while dealing with peaceful public demonstration held by a group of individuals on a justified cause. Most of the public demonstrations held by a group of people protesting particular issues are usually peaceful and poses no threat to the general public and are often justified or for a noble cause.
However, the police force has been reported and documented employing excessive force with an aim of dispersing the group and also protecting the general public. Some of the measures used by the police officers in such an operation are the use of tear gas and also beating the people. While it is necessary to keep peace and order in a city or a town when there is such demonstrations, the police should only intervene while the crowd or the demonstrators get rowdy and un orderly.
Citizens have a right of freedom and as long as this right is not being abused, they should be allowed to exercise it. Peaceful demonstrations posing no threat to the greater public should thus be allowed and the police force should not interfere. However, this is not the case in most countries. Police officers beat and use tear gas even when demonstrations are peaceful and this is a violation of human rights. Use of brutal means to disperse peaceful demonstrators is aimed at instilling fear in people to ensure that they do not fight for their rights (PrisonPlanet, para 6).
Police shootings or what is commonly referred to as extra judicial killings of innocent persons have also been on the rise in the recent past in America and other parts of the world. Most of the individuals who have been active activists of police brutality are killed through cold blood shooting by police officers. A police officer is only permitted to shoot an individual in the event that the person suspected to have committed a criminal act refuses to be arrested and tries to run away or in case of gun fire with thugs. However, the recent scenario comprises of officers who shoot people even when they voluntarily surrender for arrest.
This is a highest degree of human rights violation through police brutality. Killings through choking the victims have also been reported in many instances. Police officers choke individuals suspected to be crimes and at times they kill them. This is a form of police misconduct which should be discouraged. Use of such excess force on individuals is wrong and should be avoided (Canaday, para 11). Unlawful arrests by the police department are also acts of brutality that are practiced by the police force or the police officers.
Most of the individuals arrested are picked up on unclear basis and are forced to confess wrongs they never committed. Such individuals are subjected to dehumanizing conditions with an aim of making them confess to criminal charges which they did not commit. Most of the individuals unlawfully arrested belong to the minority groups or communities. In America, there have been protests of unlawful and illegal arrest of blacks who are eventually murdered in controversial circumstances. Brutality by the police officers has also been recorded in the treatment of the minority groups.
Racial profiling which is in terms of race, politics, religion and socioeconomic status are areas where high rates of police brutality are recorded. Such brutality is enhanced by some officers who believe that some communities or a group of people deserve punishment. Such believes founded on differences on racial inclination have contributed to the rise of police brutality. Police officers work is to protect the individuals of a country despite their race or background and as such the racial profiling employed by officers is illegal thus prosecutable (Shabazz, para 10).