Police Brutality in America Needs to Stop
by Karen Ronka, Junior Writer
How would you feel if you or one of your family members got hurt or even worse, killed, by a police officer who are supposed to be protecting you from harm? Unfortunately, this is becoming too common across America. The increase in police brutality in this country is a frightening reality. In the last decade alone, the number of people murdered by police has reached 5,000. Generations of people believe that the police aren’t the “good guys” they all believed to be, and the growing violence against citizens is harming that ideal. Police officers should be represented as heroes, not as threats.
Recently, many cases of police brutality has become more prominent because these acts have led innocent victims to become injured or worse, dead. One major case that has affected several innocent people was the Ferguson shooting where an 18 year-old named Michael Brown was fatally shot. Brown was unarmed and his dead body was left by police in the streets baking in the 90 degree heat for several hours.
The morning after Brown was killed, Police Chief Jon Belmar held a press conference. While protesters were shouting in the background, Belmar stated that Brown “physically assaulted” an unnamed officer while the officer was in his vehicle. “The teen was going for the officer’s gun,” said Belmar. This comes to show that in order to protect police integrity, officers tend to go against the victim. Several innocent lives are being taken by police although the victims may not be armed or showing any acts of threat. This isn’t the only act of police brutality, Ferguson is just an example of what is happening in the hands of our police who are supposed to “protect” us from harm, not create it.
Other police brutality related cases include Danny Rodriguez being fatally shot November 5th, 2011 by officer Richard Chrisman in Phoenix during a domestic disturbance at their home. Rodriguez picked up a bicycle from the living room and Chrisman then shot him twice. Chrisman also shot Rodriguez’s pitbull and eventually was charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault and animal cruelty and was sentenced 7 years in prison. A more recent case involves the death of Eric Garner, an African-American, after a police officer put him in a chokehold, a tactic that is banned by the NYPD. When Garner announced that he was tired of being harassed and that he really wasn’t selling cigarettes, four police officers, including Daniel Pantaleo, had Garner on the floor while he was saying “I can’t breathe” several times. He was pronounced dead an hour later at the hospital.
According to the article “Police Brutality is Systemic, not Anecdotal” from the American Conservative, citizens may believe that police are represented as the killing class. The article states that many departments do not provide adequate training in nonviolent solutions. The police training system expects the worse when it comes to handling a crime, therefore providing a more violent response mechanism for cops.
One huge issue is that police are increasingly militarized. During President Obama’s gun control push, he argued that “weapons of war have no place on our streets;” but as Radley Balko documented in his 2013 book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, local police are way too often equipped with weapons powerful enough to dominate a small country. Some of these weapons include a Glock 26 and SIG Sauer P239 DAO.
American Conservative estimates that police use of highly-armed SWAT teams has risen by 1,500 percent in the last two decades. Several police departments cultured an “us vs. them” mentality toward the public in which they serve. As you can see, these weapons play a big part in provoking police brutality.
Also, in U.S police department budgets, most of the money goes to militarized weapons, and almost nothing to training. “Expert: U.S. Police Training in Use of Deadly Force Woefully Inadequate” cites several leading experts stating that today’s cops aren’t being trained to use the weapons they are killing with.
“The majority of police officers are overwhelmingly trained with a focus on the technical part of use of force, and are not trained enough in the emotional, psychological, physiological aspects of use of force. And of course, the social aspects use of force: how this all plays later on within the community, how it impacts police-community relations,” concludes Paul Waldman, a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces.
Police training is more focused on “here’s how to protect ourselves” rather than helping citizens who is actually playing role in the problem. Other places such as the United Kingdom and Ireland where police officers are not armed, have much more longer training than the United States does. An average training in the United States is fifteen weeks. Police forces in other countries have twice or three times as longer training than the United States.
“How did America’s Police Become a Military Force on the Streets” shows how police aren’t considered a help anymore, but more of a threat. “Children were taught that cops were the “good guys” but with more and more violent clashes between police and citizens being made public, that mentality is changing and kids growing up are now left with no one to turn to.”
In conclusion, the number of people that have been murdered due to police’s hands has gradually increased and will continue to increase unless a drastic change is made. Police are no longer considered our “heroes” until they are willing to take responsibility for their actions. As of now, there is no one to turn to when a helping hand is needed for our cities. All the harm that has been done by the police to our fellow citizens represent them as the “killing class.”
MAH WINS NYT SCHOLARSHIP