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Putting An End To Police Brutality

764 words - 3 pages

The police play a vital role in today’s justice system; they are the heroes that catch armed banked robbers, stop kidnappings, and catch murderers that terrorize communities: or at least that is how they are portrayed. While police activities are much more mundane than the public may think, police are given total authority over the public to keep the streets safe. In Steven Lukes’ article, power, he gives a general definition of power as “the capacity to bring about outcomes” (Lukes 59), but that in actuality, a single definition for “power” is very controversial. Lukes gives synonyms such as “authority, influence, coercion, force, violence, manipulation, and strength” (Lukes 59), but chooses his words carefully to reveal the many contradicting synonyms to reveal the confusion about power. While it is a common misconception that officers are putting an end to things like “violence” and “manipulation”, in reality, police often cause conflict, and misuse their [vaguely defined] power because of the environment that police departments provide for their officers.

One of the best examples of power misuse is that of the Milgram experiment, conducted in the 1960′s. The study examined people’s willingness to submit to authority, even if it meant inflicting on pain on other participants. Milgram found that 65% of participants “were willing to give apparently harmful electric shocks up to 450 volts to a pitifully protesting victim, simply because a scientific, lab coated authority commanded them to, and despite the fact that the victim did nothing to deserve such punishment” (Persaud 356). In fact, the study “demonstrated with brutal clarity that ordinary individuals could be induced to act destructively, even in the absence of physical coercion, and humans need not be innately evil or aberrant to act in ways that are reprehensible and inhumane” (Persaud 356). Results from this study suggest that when people, such as police officers, are given the authority to use whatever force deemed necessary by an authority such as the police department, they feel justified using their “power” however they feel. David Lester conducted a study in which he found police officers attain an “expectation of harm” through their schooling at police academies (Lester 186). Lester found “shifts in…attitudes during both academy training and the period of working” (Lester 186) to officers being less willing to admit to the existence of police brutality. It seems that the departments do not see the occurrences as...

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