A total of 637 black people was shot to death by the police from the year 2017 to 2019. According to the most recent statistics from Statista Research Department (2020), 205 of those cases happened in 2019. Police brutality has been one of the leading causes of death for young black men in America. “Study finds that about 1 in 1,000 black men and boys can expect to die as a result of police violence over the course of their lives – a risk that’s about 2.5 times higher than their white peers” (Khan, 2019). This shows how police violence is heavily influenced by race and one’s skin colour, mainly due to several reasons such as misjudgements, racial injustice and discrimination against black people. This essay will cover the problems and propose possible solutions to encounter those problems.
Taking the case of Eric Garner, a black man who was suffocated by the police to death after being accused of selling single cigarettes without tax stamps in New York shows how police force often misjudge black people based off racial prejudices. This story has caught the attention of many activists and protests such as Campaign Zero and The Black Lives Matter Movement were made to put an end to police brutality, especially amongst black people. Moreover, movies such as “The Hate U Give” were made to address and advocate for racial and social justice. However, these voices are still not enough to put discrimination against black people to an end. It is a violation of human rights and has caused many innocent lives being taken. Not to mention, it can cause severe trauma and mental health problems to the victim. According to the study conducted by the Boston University’s School of Health and the University of Pennsylvania (2018), the high rate of unarmed African Americans being killed by the police has caused more black people to experience depression, stress and other mental health issues. Hence, further actions must be taken to suppress police violence.
To begin with, one of the solutions to encounter this problem would be through training and evaluating police officers. Police officers must undergo at least a 3-year training before becoming eligible to serve the community to ensure that they will perform their duties in compliance with the United States law. “Every police department should be governed by clear and consistent standards, supported by training and used as the basis for evaluation and discipline” (Thurau, 2018). This training helps police officers to be more competent and fair in their ethical judgements when it comes to crime and the use of force. As written on the Human Rights Standards and Practice for the Police book, “All persons are equal before the law, and are entitled, without discrimination, to equal protection of law” (2004). To ensure that they comply to the law imposed on them by the United States, the Independent Police Complaints Authority must handle and investigate all complaints of any police misconduct. Moreover, the superior officials must strictly monitor police actions and are held responsible for any unlawful use of force. Hence, they will feel obliged to work adherence to the law and regulations.
The second solution to combat police brutality would be to press charges against officers that violates civil rights. “Law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity, and shall maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons”, as written on the Human Right Standards and Practice For the Police book. Police officers are rarely prosecuted for misconduct. Looking from the statistics gathered by the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, out of 3,238 criminal cases against police officers from April 2009 up to December 2010, only 33 percent cases were convicted. This shows how the law enforcement take little account of police brutality and rather giving officers wide latitude to use force on duty. For instance, Lamar Anthony Smith, an unarmed black man was shot to death by a white police officer after being suspected for drug transaction and ran off in 2011. However, the police was acquitted and was not sentenced to federal prison.
Clearly, there is a bias in the system and the laws must therefore be stricter in order to serve justice to the community. “There is an unjust imbalance of power where the lives of police who commit wrongdoing are valued over the lives of the everyday citizen” (Brooks, 2018). Everybody deserve a fair treatment regardless of their skin colour. Police who violates any human rights, whether it is in the form of discrimination, racial judgements and abuse, must face consequences.
In conclusion, police brutality towards black people is still an issue in the US up to this day. Violence towards black people must come to an end. They deserve to be treated fairly and equally and any police misconduct must be put under and punished in accordance to the United States law. The use of force must only be used when strictly necessary and under lawful use, without discrimination on such grounds as race and skin colour.