It was March 3, 1991 when Los Angeles police officers were on a high speed chase when they stopped an African-American man that fit the description of the suspect. This man’s name is Rodney King. That night police officers beat him, thinking no one was watching. It ended up being on the news that. Someone had recorded the whole thing. Before that night it was the word of the people of Los Angeles against the L.A.P.D. But after that night soon things would change. This act was caught on tape for everyone to see. And finally the people had evidence of what everyone has been trying to bring to the light for a long time. And unfortunately this still occurs to this day. Many people still face law enforcement and endure “police brutality”. But in some occurrences, police are not always to blame. How should police brutality be possibly prevented?
The difference between today and back then is now police departments have body cams and dash cams. But yet the same issue is still occurring. Even though some people believe all police are racist and love to shoot minorities, that’s not always the case. “Dash Cams were introduced to police cars in Texas in the late 1980’s. Those were some of the earliest dash cams. They used VHS cassettes and were mounted on tripods. Initially, they were purchased to help keep officers in remote rural areas, safe.”(www.thebreak.com) In the early 90’s, though, dash cams would begin to be adopted by more and more police departments. The reason these new gadgets were being part of law enforcement was because of the actions of police officers. Even with that recording, though, it could still be difficult to tell whether a policeman’s actions were necessary. “As the technology became cheaper and better, the dash cam gained widespread adoption, and soon police departments across the country began using them.”(www.thebreak.com)
There are records to show from the Bureau of Justice Statics stating that “In 1995, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) convened a Police Use of Force Workshop to discuss the requirements of Section 210402. Challenges on the collection of use of force statistics were discussed, including the identification and collection of excessive force data. The first step to measure excessive force is to capture the use of any action deemed as force, regardless of whether or not it is excessive. Therefore, recommendations were made on how to measure law enforcement use of force nationally with the ability to identify which acts were excessive. The collection of law enforcement use of force statistics has been mandated as a responsibility of the Attorney General since the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Title XXI: State and Local Law Enforcement, Subtitle D: Police Pattern or Practice, Section 210402, states the responsibility of the Attorney General to collect data on excessive force. Specifically in SEC. 210402. DATA ON USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE (a) ATTORNEY GENERAL TO COLLECT–The Attorney General shall, through appropriate means, acquire data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers. (b) LIMITATION ON USE OF DATA–Data acquired under this section shall be used only for research or statistical purposes and may not contain any information that may reveal the identity of the victim or any law enforcement officer (c) ANNUAL SUMMARY–The Attorney General shall publish an annual summary of the data acquired under this section.”(www.bjs.gov)
Although people believe law enforcement is to blame for everything, that’s not always the case. Sometimes people forget they are dealing with criminals and they put their lives on the line for our communities’ everyday. Put yourself in the shoes of the officer for a minute if you were face to face with a criminal at the moment and they were trying to hurt you, what would you do? Would you let that criminal hurt you or would you use excessive force to put him down before he puts you down? Most people would use the excessive force to do what they have to. A lot of people don’t see this point of view.
“Body worn cameras are spreading worldwide, under the assumption that police performance, conduct, accountability, and legitimacy, in the eyes of the public, are enhanced as a result of using these devices. In addition, suspects’ demeanor during police-public engagements is hypothesized to change as a result of the video-recording of the encounter. For both parties–officers and suspects–the theoretical mechanism that underpins these behavioral changes is deterrence theory, self-awareness theory, or both. Yet evidence on the efficacy of body worn cameras, remain largely anecdotal, with only one rigorous study, from a small force in Rialto, California, validating the hypotheses”. (Barak, JCL & C) Even though body cams have been around for a long time now, this could be a possible solution if fixed. If they could be viewed live by someone high in command in the department it would be better. Also if they weren’t able to turn off the video and audio it would make a big difference. Just by law enforcement being able to turn of these devices doesn’t seem to be helping them or the suspects, who also have rights too.
Another way to possibly end police brutality would be to actually start prosecuting the officers that actually commit “police brutality”. We’ve seen in many cases where a police officer uses excessive force and ends up killing the suspect or alleged suspect and walks away with either a suspension or a suspension with pay. And it is not fair. The people want justice for these actions. Most of these occurrences happen on tape now and it’s hard for the officer in the wrong to deny what they were doing. For example, just recently the nurse who got put into handcuffs for not taking the blood of an unconscious patient at the officers request. ” Officer Payne demanded that she draw blood from a sedated patient as part of an investigation into a car crash. Ms. Wubbels steadfastly said hospital policy did not allow it because it did not meet one of three criteria: The person was not under arrest, and the police had neither a warrant nor the patient’s consent. She said she had checked with several hospital administrators and managers who supported her position. The officer continued to accuse Ms. Wubbels of interfering with a criminal investigation. “If I don’t get to get the blood, I’m taking her to jail,” he said, adding later: “I either go away with blood in vials or body in tow. That’s my only two choices.”Ms. Wubbels put her boss, Brad Wiggins, on speakerphone and he told Officer Payne, “Sir, you’re making a huge mistake” by threatening a nurse. With that, Officer Payne said, “We’re done,” and moved to take Ms. Wubbels into custody.” (Mele and Victor, N.Y. Times) The article also stated that the officer that was in this situation was put on administrative leave which by definition means is a temporary leave from a job assignment, with pay and benefits intact. Generally, the term is reserved for employees of non-business institutions such as schools, police, and hospitals. This isn’t the type of justice people are looking for.
People are losing their lives and their trust in the police because cases of police brutality are raising .Departments need to also do a better job at weeding out the suspicious officers. We need to live in a society where people can trust the officers that are supposed to protect us. But hopefully one day these issues will be resolved and improved with the possible solutions that were mentioned above.
Ariel, Barak Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology
Christopher Mele and Daniel Victor – newyorktimes.com