Police Brutality Essay

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Policing places men and women in an often dangerous and stressful role, dealing with suspects at every level of criminal offenses. In such situations, an incident may arise that needs to be dealt with decisively. Policing agencies have strict guidelines, categorizing forcible coercion into separate levels of severity. It is when an officer uses a more than acceptable means of coercion that this physical manipulation becomes excessive. Police brutality is arguably the most publicized form of Police misconduct, especially in recent history. There are several points of view to be examined, including the offender’s, the victim’s and the public’s reaction to the incident. It is clear that this is one of the most controversial aspects of policing, concerning the dangers that come along with the delicate balance of power and discretion allowed to a select group and amount of observation required.

Any interaction between police and the public could easily turn into a situation leading to violence. A simple traffic stop could turn violent, but the deciding factors are the officer in question and the suspect. Because there is no concrete definition to the amount of force reasonably required to deal with a suspect, it is hard to follow the growth or declinations in police brutality across the country. It seems that the most closely examined and often the most controversial cases of police brutality are those that are accompanied by tape of the incident. The most famous being the Rodney King Assault in which a black motorist, following a high speed chase, was pulled from his vehicle and beaten. The following year, after the four officers in question were acquitted of charges, the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 ensued, though there were several other contributing factors to the social tensions of South Central Los Angeles it was the verdict that finally sparked the six days of rioting, which lead to the deaths of fifty-three people. With video sharing and video hosting websites becoming more and more prevalent with each passing year, the shear number of bystander accounts of Police Brutality are astounding. Almost everyone has access to a camera and can easily document an incident they might stumble upon, with a phone or a handheld camcorder, there are even incidents which may have two or more view points from separate passers-by who just so happened thought it might be prudent to tape an assault. A simple search of “police brutality” rewards a laundry list of videos and even “play lists” of similar incidents. The fact that the tape of any such incident is taken out of context makes it hard to rationalize actions with hindsight. Any arrest of a violent or dangerous criminal, especially those who resist restraints, can be construed as excessive violence by someone who might not realize the implications of the criminal’s offense.

There are cases, however, in which the offender is non-violent, committing a misdemeanor, or even just a...

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