Every 7 hours in the United States an individual life is taken by a police officer. Police brutality is defined as an aggressive overuse of power given to them as a status of a police officer. A 395 pound 6’2-foot man named Eric Garner was held in an illegal chokehold by officer Justin D’Amico. Eric Garner was selling illegal cigarettes on a street in Staten Island, New York. As police approach him four of the officers wrestled him to the ground, and officer Amico held him a chokehold. Police brutality is officers that mistreat their powers provoking racism, unlawful actions of abusing powers making trust in law enforcement diminish.
One legal case that brought attention to the public eyes was the Rodney King case. On March 3, 1991 Rodney King was pulled over in attempt to flee police. After exiting his vehicle, four officers named Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno and Stacey Koon began tazing and hitting King with batons over 53 times (Adams). He was left with sustaining severe bodily injuries including a broken leg and bruises. King’s event initiated the start of a debate between racial diversity and the police enforcement.
Firstly, police are showing more violence towards non-white citizens. In the modern world, society is seeing a higher number of fatal police shootings with the African Americas society. According to Jasmine C. Lee and Haeyoun Park authors of The New York Times, “Cases in which black people were killed by the police or died in their custody have risen to national prominence in recent years, often prompting protests nationwide”. This quote demonstrates how African American’s have become more targeted by law enforcement with the color of their skin rather than crimes being committed. A 2016 case of a young individual located in Falcon Heights, Minnesota was fatally shot from a traffic stop by an officer who thought he has a reaching for this weapon. According to Mitch Smith author for The New York Times, Philiando Castile, stated he had a gun to the officer while reaching for this identification, and the officer reacted wrongly making a fatal mistake. Officer with second degree manslaughter with endangering safety by discharging a firearm was found not guilty.
Another case in Ohio of an African American man named Samuel DuBose, who was pulled over for a traffic stop without a front license plate. The officer asked repeatedly for DuBose driver’s license, also asking to him remove himself from the car. Samuel tried to return to his car. According to Jess Bidgood writer for The New York Times, “Officer Tensing reached into the car and yells ‘stop’ twice, resulting in shooting Samuel DuBose in the head.” This quotes shows that rash actions can quickly lead to an unnecessary death. Ray Tensing was tried for murder and voluntary manslaughter and found not guilty. The violence crimes against non-whites is on the rise, showing police are intending to abusing their powers.
Secondly, another major issue in law enforcement is officers that abuse their powers. A case that occurred in Lorrain, Ohio, written by Cleve R. Wootson Jr, for the Washington Post, former police officer John Kovach attempted to place his daughter’s boyfriend, Makai Coleman, under arrest because he personally felt that Coleman was not a good person. Kovach’s had located his daughter laptop at a friend’s house, due to her not responding her messages from him. He spotted Coleman’s car near the house and pulled him over. According to Kovach recorded video footage, Kovach approached the car and said, “You can get out, you’re going to jail.” When Coleman asked why Kovach said, “Have a seat in the car. We’ll make up while we go.” (Wootson). Within the same day former officer Kovach attempted to arrest Coleman, he also threatened to arrest the friends of Coleman who were in the car when one of them said he was abusing his police powers and they were going to call his superiors (Wootson). John Kovach was dismissed from his duty as police officer.
An article from Medium politics written by Larry Smith Junior, a former police officer, talks about how he was involved in and witnessed police officers who abused their powers. According to Smith, he arrested an innocent man on the Fourth of July. Smith mentions, that he ordered many groups of people to walk away from the sidewalk and if they didn’t, he would place them under arrest. Even though it was an unlawful order people would comply with his order fearing arrest. Smith also mentions that many male police officers used to abuse their police powers by keeping track of their former spouses or girlfriends. “They used criminal databases to look up tags of cars parked in front of their former lover’s homes or ran a de facto background check on their new partners” (Smith). This quotes expresses the idea that police officers use their powers for their own personal gain. Many police officers are trustworthy, but only the select few abuse their power by using it for unlawful actions by misleading trust in society.
Thirdly, trust in the law enforcement has reached an incurred decline within the last few years. According to Jeffery M. Jones, an editor at Gallup.com, since 1993 faith in the police force has reached an all-time low. According to Bill Schneider, an editor at Reuters.com, writes that a poll that was done by the IPSOS polling organization asked Americans if they thought that the police “routinely lie to serve their own interests” and found that of Americans 31% agree police officers do abuse their powers. Society should not be afraid of law enforcement, nor feel that they can’t trust them. Schneider also found that in most cases, citizens tend to have a higher approval of their local police department than federal law enforcement. If the police officers in these areas aren’t known for being particularly unjust, the approval is almost always higher with the residents of the towns. With the lack of trust instated in police officer, body cameras would produce a higher budget for officers.
Next, body cameras being provided for every individual officer is a costly burden on police departments. According to Christian Menno writer for the Bucks County Courier Times, “spent 12.5 million dollars to equip 4,000 patrol officers with the devices”. This quote helps explain an accurate dollar amount of how much money is needed for the devices. With many hours being recorded, storage is relied on heavily by police departments. A police department located in Doylestown, PA spent $13,792 enhancing storage quality by buying new servers to keep with up much recorded video (Menno). Body cameras weight heavily on the budget for police officers, helping show the true with recorded video.
Finally, a solution to relieve police brutality would be to require all police officers to wear body cameras. They will provide real life evidence, rather than personal opinions. For many juries, with so much evidence it’s difficult to imagine the actual scene. The body cameras provide direct clear evidence for the court system. Body cameras could possibly reduce unlawful action. The video gives feedback to the officer on how a similar case could handle differently, also helping citizens to act less aggressively. The video evidence being produced by body cameras could provide justice for citizens and officers that need to be acquitted for their crime.
Racism, use of unlawful action and lack of trust in officers are subjects to the start of police brutality. Looking at statistics from recent years it is apparent that non-white Americans are still unjustly singled out by police. This misuse of authority has resulted in unwillingness to trust the police in much of the population. While obviously still a problem today, there are still cases that have questionable outcomes. Citizens of any nation should feel safe about the law enforcement that is being paid to protect them. In the past, there is no doubt that the police force and the government has been able to get away with countless unlawful and unjust acts before the Rodney King case. Even after that case, there were many court cases that were in favor of police officers that were guilty of unlawful action. Through public outrage and many generations of people who have been brought up in more progressive times, the number has declined, however still happening in some cases. Society relies on efficient police officers to provide safely for every individual in America.