The department of Justice in the US reported that in 1999 and 2000, force was used by police in less than 1% of total arrest incidences (2009). In addition, the rate of complains was 6. 6 per 100 sworn officers as per a study conducted in law enforcement departments in the US. It is claimed that out of the 6. 6 % complains, 92 percent had insufficient evidence that would have led to disciplinary action on the accused officers (US Department of Justice, 2009).
Despite the rareness of excessive use of police, some definitions and measures for determining whether incidence can be termed as extreme use of force deter researchers from identifying extreme cases. Due to this fact more cases go unrecorded. A case of excessive use of force In November 21st 2006, Kathryn Johnston, a 92 year old woman living in Atlanta was shot six times by police officers leading to her death (De Vries, 2006). The police officers had allegedly entered her home with a no-knock warrant that had been obtained fraudulently with the intention of searching for drugs.
She was shot after firing back in defense. Two of the three officers involved have since pleaded guilty to other charges including manslaughter. De Vries, reporter for CBS News accounted that Assistant Chief Dreher Alan of the Atlanta police claimed that the narcotics officers were justified to return fire to the 92 year old lady (2006). Atlanta police confirmed that Kathryn Johnston was the only resident of the home present at the time and that she had lived there for 17 years (De Vries, 2006).
Kathryn Johnston’s niece claimed that her aunt was in good health and that the neighbors knew of the whereabouts of the drugs and not Kathryn (2006). Civil rights activist Rev. Markel Hutchins said that the family deserved an apology for the brutality caused to the 92 year old woman terming it as the most egregious case considering Johnston’s age (De Vries, 2006). It is not clear whether the officers clearly asked to be allowed into Kathryn’s home. However, the situation painted by their forceful 7 p.
m raid in plain clothes might have been judged as a cause of danger by the 92 year old lady living alone in Atlanta Georgia, hence her firing. The incident aroused feelings of anger and bitterness towards the Atlanta police which tarnished the image of police and destroyed police-citizen relationship. The innocence of Kathryn Johnston is not clearly known as police claims indicate the presence of drugs in her home while her niece strongly refuses. Tyler and Huo, the authors of “Trust in the Law” claim that police use social control and deterrence as a way of managing encounters with unruly citizens.
As a result, they use threats and arrests so as to achieve compliance to their demands which often leads to disaster (Huo and Tyler, 202). The writers insist on the need for the public to cooperate with police in investigation. Police mistrust Negative police-public relations has been a result of little representation among police staff in the communities they serve (Hickman, 2006). The agencies’ response to public concerns especially regarding the use of excessive force is an additional factor.
Data collected from Law Enforcement, Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) indicates that force complaints were higher among agencies that had higher rates of violent crime and internal affairs units. Agencies with greater formalization were also reported to have higher complaints as opposed to those with lower formalization as officers could conduct collective bargaining (Hickman, 2006). Minority representation was on the other hand considered insignificant to percentage of complaints. The way forward
Tyler and Huo suggest the implementation of process based models that are more likely to encourage the voluntary acceptance of decisions and orders made by police officers (2002). These models should be able to encourage members of the public to be more willing to follow police orders, a condition that is necessitated by a healthy relationship of trust and respect between the two parties (Tyler & Huo, 2002). Conclusion Poor relationships between police and members of the public have led to the use of unnecessary excessive use of force by police while dealing with members of the public.
Better ways ought to be invented by legal authorities in order to gain acceptance for their directives and a consequent compliance to orders issued by them. Indeed, police officers are not the most likely people to generate feelings of harmony within the society when they are seen as a figure of oppression or offer community less than they expect. The continued trend of distrust between police and the members of public has generated a negative relationship between the two groups.
Police officers should be trained on better methods of handling issues involving citizens. References: Alpert, G. P. , and Dunham, R. G. , 2004. Understanding Police Use of Force: Officers, Suspects, and Reciprocity. New York: Cambridge University Press. Hickman, M. J. , 2006. Citizen complaints about police use of force: Organizational, administrative, and environmental correlates. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Los Angeles, California. November 1, 2006. Justice, U. D.
(2009). Police Use of Force. National Institute of Justice . Retrieven on 12th May 2010 from: http://www. ojp. usdoj. gov/nij/topics/law-enforcement/use-of-force/welcome. htm Lloyd de Vries. (2006). Cops Defend Shooting 92-Year-Old Woman. CBS News. Retrieved on 12th May 2010 from: http://www. cbsnews. com/stories/2006/11/22/national/main2205048. shtml? source=RSSattr=HOME_2205048 Tyler, T. R. , & Huo, Y. J. (2002). Trust in the Law: Encouraging Public Cooperation with Police and Court. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.