When you were a child, you most likely have read the story “The boy who cried wolf”. What this story taught you was that it isn’t a joke to go run and tell people something happened when it didn’t because eventually people will stop listening. So why is it almost every time a police officer takes someone to the ground they cry “police brutality”? Police officers are here to maintain order, protect citizens and safe guard property.
They should not have to worry about if a miniscule action they take is a career ending one, but on the opposing side their authority and power should have its limits and limitations. Police Brutality does happen from time to time, but not to the extent the public believes or as frequently as its thought and with a little help it’s so called huge rate will disappear. Time after time when police officers using force is captured on video tape all it shows is the officer or officers surrounding the suspect while possibly using their tools to try and gain control of the suspect.
Rarely does it show the events leading up to that point or state what the suspect was doing. What this does is gives a false idea and thought that the police officers are overstepping their bounds and are using unnecessary force. As stated in the book “Police Brutality” describing the Rodney King Brutality case; if you see a short clip or portion of the film all you see is someone complying, so why are the officers striking him? (Roleff). The majority of these videos are shot by on looking bystanders, however sometimes the news media captures it as well.
More often than not all that these short clips of the actual events cause is spark a hated for officers and possibly lead to the officer or officers losing their job when they were in the right to begin with. Contrary to popular belief, police officers aren’t picked up off the street and given a gun, badge, and night stick. They are sent through very vigorous training on the proper usage of their tools on hand, as well as to deescalate a situation before the use of force is necessary. Hours and hours of training and classes are mandatory before an officer is allowed to go on patrol.
For instance on average a police recruit spends 761 hours in a class room going over everything from proper use of force, to when should my use of force be escalated as well as on average of spending 453 hours on a mandatory field component to further hone their skills(bjs. ojp. usdoj. gov). Now why with all of this training would it be thought that police officers are not subject matter experts in their field? Why is it that everyone feels that police officers do not know there job well or that they constantly do certain things they aren’t supposed to?
Maybe it stems from an overall lake of respect for police officers that a good majority have, or possible that media itself show police officers a good majority of the time to be blundering idiots or the bad guys. Either way simple numbers do not lie. Police officers are given a considerable amount of training pertaining to using the tools at their disposal as well as the proper escalation and use of force, so there really can’t be someone crying wolf on that police officer have no idea, knowledge, or training pertaining to their job field.
Unfortunately not every person is tolerant of every race, religion or nationality. Sometimes a person does not like a certain group of people for whatever reason. Is this a very ignorant quality? Many say yes. Now do some of these people like this make it to the police force? It would be naive to think they didn’t. Now with that said is it very possible that some police brutality cases stem from the officer not liking or tolerating a certain person or a group of people.
However every time an officer of different color strikes a suspect and it is consider racially driven, or that same officer fires his service weapon killing the suspect isn’t that a bit absurd? This rift exist because it is seen as a way for an accused to receive a lesser punishment if one at all for his crimes. When this so called racial act is voiced by the media and reaches a community dominantly populated by individuals of the same background as the suspect, it creates much soreness toward the police officer.
In the case where police officer John Wilbur who is white was drug by three black males in a car, and after shooting two of them did it finally stop a local resident of the area stated “Wilbur deserved to get dragged up the street, and I wish his legs broke the hell off” (Roleff 42). This resident was of the same ethnic background as the suspects and because of Officer Wilbur is white; him shooting the suspects wasn’t because he was being drug up the street but because they were a different color than he.
This idea of police brutality arising from the fact that the officer is of different color then the suspect is a warped way to see in and isn’t someone who thinks this being racist themselves toward the officer? Though you can catch everyone, most all individuals who are in the police force do not have this racial hate toward someone so the idea that an officer swung his night stick more times because the suspect was of different color carries no weight to it. There always will be an overzealous or ill-fitting person placed into a position they shouldn’t be in or aren’t capable of handling it.
The police force is no different, just as saying police brutality does not exist at all would far from the truth. From time to time there are police officers who make it through all the training and screening to wear a badge, but carry with them a bias thought or feeling toward a group. Though many academies do what they can to catch these seated dislikes certain applicants have, they can’t catch every single one. And what happens when these officers get to the department is these dislikes for certain people or groups come out and that is when brutality cases start appearing.
And when on happens it can lead to a slew of others and hurts the departments image causing the citizens to lose confidence in them such as what has happened with Chicago’s police force because of a string of complaints as stated by Susan Saulny(Saulny). Police brutality does happen. An officer places him or herself into a position where he loses control and a cool head and does something that is over the top. However these aren’t the actions of the many, only the few and this coupled with the media and public up play toward the topic it makes it seem as if the problem is larger than it really is.
It you have a problem how do you fix it? Depending on the problem you can instruct against it, train in different ways or show how to avoid the problem. As stated earlier police brutality is a problem, but not as large as it is thought to be. But with any problem why not try and solve it so no one needs to worry about it. Officers go through countless hours of training before they are able to wear a badge. But does this training continue after they have reached the department, to a certain extent yes departments do continue training officers.
So maybe that isn’t the culprit in what may be causing so called police brutality cases. In a study done by the Department of Justice, lack of specific policy guidance on the appropriate use of force and unclear or overly general policies existed(Dwyer). It seems from this that the problem isn’t with officers having a lack of training but that the line in the sand was not clear and it was unknown what was or wasn’t overstepping their bounds. Since the beginning of time, certain people who hold power sometimes abuse it.
It is unfortunate but it is shown in history that it is bound to happen. And police officers are just as open to this happening to them as anyone else in the position. Brutality cases shouldn’t happen but they do. There is no denying it. But the extent that they are happening to is largely out of proportion. This is caused by the media up playing the event when it happens and the ignorant racial outcry that is sometimes said by the local populace. Even though the problem is smaller than it is show, police brutality does exist.
How this is curtailed it is through continued training for the officers not only with the usage of their tools at hand but also what the use of force guidelines are and ensuring that the officers have a clear understanding of what is allowed and what is over the top beyond what the officer is allowed to do. Not only through training but participation by the media and citizens can this crying wolf on the men and women of police forces can be stopped, because why would you want to degrade and slander the people who protect us?