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Police Brutality: Exploring Arguments and Solutions

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Published: Mar 16, 2024

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police brutality solutions essay

Police Brutality: Is There a Solution? Essay


Considering that, in general, law enforcement agents must be devoted to justice, the police misconduct covered in the news outlets should be interpreted in the context of bigger socioeconomic issues and structures that place people and communities in danger. Police brutality is a stark reminder of our country’s racist history. Such a framework allocates status and shapes possibilities while favoring some and penalizing others based on cultural background and appearance. Police brutality is not a topic with several incidents but a persistent issue that has been prevalent in American society for hundreds of years. The question that concerns many Americans nowadays is as follows: Is there a way to end police brutality, if the police were established to protect the citizens, why do I not feel safe?

While some people might regard police brutality as an issue that deals with race, it is also a major physiologically and psychologically traumatizing matter. The Guardian, a British tabloid, compiled the most extensive statistics on the relationship between race and fatality during police contacts. According to the statistical analysis, in 2015, young males of color were nine times more likely than their white counterparts to be killed or abused by law enforcement officers (Alang et al., 2017). Many victims of policing violence die a slow, painful death as a consequence of continuous physical injuries while in police detention. Dondi Johnson’s story might serve as an example of such brutality (Alang et al., 2017). The man was detained for public urinating and taken to a police car in 2005. The victim entered the police car healthy but left in a quadriplegic state, subsequently dying due to injuries received in the vehicle.

Some could argue that it happened 17 years ago, and times have changed. However, police brutality still exists, and somehow, some situations that involve fatal outcomes as a result of police abuse happen to go unnoticed, and those who killed innocent citizens still enjoy the freedom and hold officers’ positions. For example, George Floyd is among a thousand police murders that are likely to occur in 2020 (Schwartz, 2020). While the murderer of Mr. Floyd is convicted, many victims never saw justice being administered for their cases. Meanwhile, female people of color also face police violence. For instance, a law enforcement officer shot Lajuana Phillips, mother of three, in 2018 (Schwartz, 2020). This year, the woman was among 996 who died from fatal police shootings, growing to 1004 in 2019 (Schwartz, 2020). The rate of deadly police shootings involving Black Americans was far greater than for any other race, with 30 shooting deaths per million of the population.

As mentioned, every act of police violence has a psychological and physiological impact on people and society. Observing or being subjected to abuse, unlawful inspections, and unjustified murders sends a message to non-white communities that their bodies are state property, replaceable, and unworthy of respect and fairness (Alang et al., 2017). Footage shows Eric Garner shouting “I can’t breathe” almost a dozen times till he loses consciousness or Diamond Reynolds telling a policeman, “You shot four bullets into him, sir” (Alang et al., 2017, p.663). Such moments may arouse past execution experiences and trigger communal rage, sadness, and helplessness. Protecting the reputation of dear ones after the police have slain them might well be agonizing, prompting even more negative sentiments. Although justified, these sentiments may harm personal psychological health and increase societal stress.

Reviewing such situations, it might appear that the issue of police brutality will continue to become more acute. Still, some measures can help mitigate officer abuse and even decrease its levels. As assessed by verified allegations per law enforcement agents, a rise in the number of ethnic minority policemen is substantially related to a reduction in police abuse (Hong, 2017). Additionally, black residents file fewer complaints against racially diverse police officers. Moreover, other scientists have sought to modify the police recruitment process in order to address the problem of unconscious prejudice. Forensic psychiatrist David Corey has recommended agencies include cultural awareness as a qualifying parameter for law enforcement employees (Abrams, 2020). Screening applicants for enforcement positions based on subconscious biases is impractical due to measurement problems. However, research demonstrates that certain personality traits might assist policemen in mitigating their prejudices (Abrams, 2020). Individuals with excellent executive functioning, emotion-focused coping qualities, and metacognitive skills, in particular, are more likely to avoid hidden biases from influencing their conduct (Abrams, 2020). Such screening can allow enforcement agencies to decrease the number of biased employees.

Hence, police brutality is not a one-time occurrence but a recurring problem that has plagued American culture for hundreds of years. While some may consider police brutality to be a racial issue, it is also a huge physiological and psychologically damaging matter. Many victims of police brutality die slowly and painfully due to ongoing physical injuries while in police custody. Police brutality not only exists, but certain incidents with deadly results go unacknowledged, and officers who killed innocent persons continue to enjoy freedom and occupy positions of authority. Some steps, such as screening law enforcement applicants for prejudice and hiring more people from diverse cultural backgrounds, can help attenuate and even reduce police abuse.

Abrams, Z. (2020). What works to reduce police brutality . American Psychology Association, 51(7). Web.

Alang, S., McAlpine, D., McCreedy, E., & Hardeman, R. (2017). Police brutality and black health: Setting the agenda for public health scholars . American Journal of Public Health , 107 (5), 662-665. Web.

Hong, S. (2017). Does increasing ethnic representativeness reduce police misconduct? Public Administration Review , 77 (2), 195-205. Web.

Schwartz, S. A. (2020). Police brutality and racism in America . Explore , 16 (5), 280. Web.

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Solving racial disparities in policing

Colleen Walsh

Harvard Staff Writer

Experts say approach must be comprehensive as roots are embedded in culture

“ Unequal ” is a multipart series highlighting the work of Harvard faculty, staff, students, alumni, and researchers on issues of race and inequality across the U.S. The first part explores the experience of people of color with the criminal justice legal system in America.

It seems there’s no end to them. They are the recent videos and reports of Black and brown people beaten or killed by law enforcement officers, and they have fueled a national outcry over the disproportionate use of excessive, and often lethal, force against people of color, and galvanized demands for police reform.

This is not the first time in recent decades that high-profile police violence — from the 1991 beating of Rodney King to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 — ignited calls for change. But this time appears different. The police killings of Breonna Taylor in March, George Floyd in May, and a string of others triggered historic, widespread marches and rallies across the nation, from small towns to major cities, drawing protesters of unprecedented diversity in race, gender, and age.

According to historians and other scholars, the problem is embedded in the story of the nation and its culture. Rooted in slavery, racial disparities in policing and police violence, they say, are sustained by systemic exclusion and discrimination, and fueled by implicit and explicit bias. Any solution clearly will require myriad new approaches to law enforcement, courts, and community involvement, and comprehensive social change driven from the bottom up and the top down.

While police reform has become a major focus, the current moment of national reckoning has widened the lens on systemic racism for many Americans. The range of issues, though less familiar to some, is well known to scholars and activists. Across Harvard, for instance, faculty members have long explored the ways inequality permeates every aspect of American life. Their research and scholarship sits at the heart of a new Gazette series starting today aimed at finding ways forward in the areas of democracy; wealth and opportunity; environment and health; and education. It begins with this first on policing.

Harvard Kennedy School Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad traces the history of policing in America to “slave patrols” in the antebellum South, in which white citizens were expected to help supervise the movements of enslaved Black people.

Photo by Martha Stewart

The history of racialized policing

Like many scholars, Khalil Gibran Muhammad , professor of history, race, and public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School , traces the history of policing in America to “slave patrols” in the antebellum South, in which white citizens were expected to help supervise the movements of enslaved Black people. This legacy, he believes, can still be seen in policing today. “The surveillance, the deputization essentially of all white men to be police officers or, in this case, slave patrollers, and then to dispense corporal punishment on the scene are all baked in from the very beginning,” he  told NPR  last year.

Slave patrols, and the slave codes they enforced, ended after the Civil War and the passage of the 13th amendment, which formally ended slavery “except as a punishment for crime.” But Muhammad notes that former Confederate states quickly used that exception to justify new restrictions. Known as the Black codes, the various rules limited the kinds of jobs African Americans could hold, their rights to buy and own property, and even their movements.

“The genius of the former Confederate states was to say, ‘Oh, well, if all we need to do is make them criminals and they can be put back in slavery, well, then that’s what we’ll do.’ And that’s exactly what the Black codes set out to do. The Black codes, for all intents and purposes, criminalized every form of African American freedom and mobility, political power, economic power, except the one thing it didn’t criminalize was the right to work for a white man on a white man’s terms.” In particular, he said the Ku Klux Klan “took about the business of terrorizing, policing, surveilling, and controlling Black people. … The Klan totally dominates the machinery of justice in the South.”

When, during what became known as the Great Migration, millions of African Americans fled the still largely agrarian South for opportunities in the thriving manufacturing centers of the North, they discovered that metropolitan police departments tended to enforce the law along racial and ethnic lines, with newcomers overseen by those who came before. “There was an early emphasis on people whose status was just a tiny notch better than the folks whom they were focused on policing,” Muhammad said. “And so the Anglo-Saxons are policing the Irish or the Germans are policing the Irish. The Irish are policing the Poles.” And then arrived a wave of Black Southerners looking for a better life.

In his groundbreaking work, “ The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America ,” Muhammad argues that an essential turning point came in the early 1900s amid efforts to professionalize police forces across the nation, in part by using crime statistics to guide law enforcement efforts. For the first time, Americans with European roots were grouped into one broad category, white, and set apart from the other category, Black.

Citing Muhammad’s research, Harvard historian Jill Lepore  has summarized the consequences this way : “Police patrolled Black neighborhoods and arrested Black people disproportionately; prosecutors indicted Black people disproportionately; juries found Black people guilty disproportionately; judges gave Black people disproportionately long sentences; and, then, after all this, social scientists, observing the number of Black people in jail, decided that, as a matter of biology, Black people were disproportionately inclined to criminality.”

“History shows that crime data was never objective in any meaningful sense,” Muhammad wrote. Instead, crime statistics were “weaponized” to justify racial profiling, police brutality, and ever more policing of Black people.

This phenomenon, he believes, has continued well into this century and is exemplified by William J. Bratton, one of the most famous police leaders in recent America history. Known as “America’s Top Cop,” Bratton led police departments in his native Boston, Los Angeles, and twice in New York, finally retiring in 2016.

Bratton rejected notions that crime was a result of social and economic forces, such as poverty, unemployment, police practices, and racism. Instead, he said in a 2017 speech, “It is about behavior.” Through most of his career, he was a proponent of statistically-based “predictive” policing — essentially placing forces in areas where crime numbers were highest, focused on the groups found there.

Bratton argued that the technology eliminated the problem of prejudice in policing, without ever questioning potential bias in the data or algorithms themselves — a significant issue given the fact that Black Americans are arrested and convicted of crimes at disproportionately higher rates than whites. This approach has led to widely discredited practices such as racial profiling and “stop-and-frisk.” And, Muhammad notes, “There is no research consensus on whether or how much violence dropped in cities due to policing.”

Gathering numbers

In 2015 The Washington Post began tracking every fatal shooting by an on-duty officer, using news stories, social media posts, and police reports in the wake of the fatal police shooting of Brown, a Black teenager in Ferguson, Mo. According to the newspaper, Black Americans are killed by police at twice the rate of white Americans, and Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.

Such efforts have proved useful for researchers such as economist Rajiv Sethi .

A Joy Foundation Fellow at the Harvard  Radcliffe Institute , Sethi is investigating the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers, a difficult task given that data from such encounters is largely unavailable from police departments. Instead, Sethi and his team of researchers have turned to information collected by websites and news organizations including The Washington Post and The Guardian, merged with data from other sources such as the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Census, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A Joy Foundation Fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Rajiv Sethi is investigating the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers,

Courtesy photo

They have found that exposure to deadly force is highest in the Mountain West and Pacific regions relative to the mid-Atlantic and northeastern states, and that racial disparities in relation to deadly force are even greater than the national numbers imply. “In the country as a whole, you’re about two to three times more likely to face deadly force if you’re Black than if you are white” said Sethi. “But if you look at individual cities separately, disparities in exposure are much higher.”

Examining the characteristics associated with police departments that experience high numbers of lethal encounters is one way to better understand and address racial disparities in policing and the use of violence, Sethi said, but it’s a massive undertaking given the decentralized nature of policing in America. There are roughly 18,000 police departments in the country, and more than 3,000 sheriff’s offices, each with its own approaches to training and selection.

“They behave in very different ways, and what we’re finding in our current research is that they are very different in the degree to which they use deadly force,” said Sethi. To make real change, “You really need to focus on the agency level where organizational culture lies, where selection and training protocols have an effect, and where leadership can make a difference.”

Sethi pointed to the example of Camden, N.J., which disbanded and replaced its police force in 2013, initially in response to a budget crisis, but eventually resulting in an effort to fundamentally change the way the police engaged with the community. While there have been improvements, including greater witness cooperation, lower crime, and fewer abuse complaints, the Camden case doesn’t fit any particular narrative, said Sethi, noting that the number of officers actually increased as part of the reform. While the city is still faced with its share of problems, Sethi called its efforts to rethink policing “important models from which we can learn.”

Fighting vs. preventing crime

For many analysts, the real problem with policing in America is the fact that there is simply too much of it. “We’ve seen since the mid-1970s a dramatic increase in expenditures that are associated with expanding the criminal legal system, including personnel and the tasks we ask police to do,” said Sandra Susan Smith , Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice at HKS, and the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute. “And at the same time we see dramatic declines in resources devoted to social welfare programs.”

“You can have all the armored personnel carriers you want in Ferguson, but public safety is more likely to come from redressing environmental pollution, poor education, and unfair work,” said Brandon Terry, assistant professor of African and African American Studies and social studies.

Kris Snibble/Harvard file photo

Smith’s comment highlights a key argument embraced by many activists and experts calling for dramatic police reform: diverting resources from the police to better support community services including health care, housing, and education, and stronger economic and job opportunities. They argue that broader support for such measures will decrease the need for policing, and in turn reduce violent confrontations, particularly in over-policed, economically disadvantaged communities, and communities of color.

For Brandon Terry , that tension took the form of an ice container during his Baltimore high school chemistry final. The frozen cubes were placed in the middle of the classroom to help keep the students cool as a heat wave sent temperatures soaring. “That was their solution to the building’s lack of air conditioning,” said Terry, a Harvard assistant professor of African and African American Studies and social studies. “Just grab an ice cube.”

Terry’s story is the kind many researchers cite to show the negative impact of underinvesting in children who will make up the future population, and instead devoting resources toward policing tactics that embrace armored vehicles, automatic weapons, and spy planes. Terry’s is also the kind of tale promoted by activists eager to defund the police, a movement begun in the late 1960s that has again gained momentum as the death toll from violent encounters mounts. A scholar of Martin Luther King Jr., Terry said the Civil Rights leader’s views on the Vietnam War are echoed in the calls of activists today who are pressing to redistribute police resources.

“King thought that the idea of spending many orders of magnitude more for an unjust war than we did for the abolition of poverty and the abolition of ghettoization was a moral travesty, and it reflected a kind of sickness at the core of our society,” said Terry. “And part of what the defund model is based upon is a similar moral criticism, that these budgets reflect priorities that we have, and our priorities are broken.”

Terry also thinks the policing debate needs to be expanded to embrace a fuller understanding of what it means for people to feel truly safe in their communities. He highlights the work of sociologist Chris Muller and Harvard’s Robert Sampson, who have studied racial disparities in exposures to lead and the connections between a child’s early exposure to the toxic metal and antisocial behavior. Various studies have shown that lead exposure in children can contribute to cognitive impairment and behavioral problems, including heightened aggression.

“You can have all the armored personnel carriers you want in Ferguson,” said Terry, “but public safety is more likely to come from redressing environmental pollution, poor education, and unfair work.”

Policing and criminal justice system

Alexandra Natapoff , Lee S. Kreindler Professor of Law, sees policing as inexorably linked to the country’s criminal justice system and its long ties to racism.

“Policing does not stand alone or apart from how we charge people with crimes, or how we convict them, or how we treat them once they’ve been convicted,” she said. “That entire bundle of official practices is a central part of how we govern, and in particular, how we have historically governed Black people and other people of color, and economically and socially disadvantaged populations.”

Unpacking such a complicated issue requires voices from a variety of different backgrounds, experiences, and fields of expertise who can shine light on the problem and possible solutions, said Natapoff, who co-founded a new lecture series with HLS Professor Andrew Crespo titled “ Policing in America .”

In recent weeks the pair have hosted Zoom discussions on topics ranging from qualified immunity to the Black Lives Matter movement to police unions to the broad contours of the American penal system. The series reflects the important work being done around the country, said Natapoff, and offers people the chance to further “engage in dialogue over these over these rich, complicated, controversial issues around race and policing, and governance and democracy.”

Courts and mass incarceration

Much of Natapoff’s recent work emphasizes the hidden dangers of the nation’s misdemeanor system. In her book “ Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal ,” Natapoff shows how the practice of stopping, arresting, and charging people with low-level offenses often sends them down a devastating path.

“This is how most people encounter the criminal apparatus, and it’s the first step of mass incarceration, the initial net that sweeps people of color disproportionately into the criminal system,” said Natapoff. “It is also the locus that overexposes Black people to police violence. The implications of this enormous net of police and prosecutorial authority around minor conduct is central to understanding many of the worst dysfunctions of our criminal system.”

One consequence is that Black and brown people are incarcerated at much higher rates than white people. America has approximately 2.3 million people in federal, state, and local prisons and jails, according to a 2020 report from the nonprofit the Prison Policy Initiative. According to a 2018 report from the Sentencing Project, Black men are 5.9 times as likely to be incarcerated as white men and Hispanic men are 3.1 times as likely.

Reducing mass incarceration requires shrinking the misdemeanor net “along all of its axes” said Natapoff, who supports a range of reforms including training police officers to both confront and arrest people less for low-level offenses, and the policies of forward-thinking prosecutors willing to “charge fewer of those offenses when police do make arrests.”

She praises the efforts of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins in Massachusetts and George Gascón, the district attorney in Los Angeles County, Calif., who have pledged to stop prosecuting a range of misdemeanor crimes such as resisting arrest, loitering, trespassing, and drug possession. “If cities and towns across the country committed to that kind of reform, that would be a profoundly meaningful change,” said Natapoff, “and it would be a big step toward shrinking our entire criminal apparatus.”

Retired U.S. Judge Nancy Gertner cites the need to reform federal sentencing guidelines, arguing that all too often they have been proven to be biased and to result in packing the nation’s jails and prisons.

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard file photo

Sentencing reform

Another contributing factor in mass incarceration is sentencing disparities.

A recent Harvard Law School study found that, as is true nationally, people of color are “drastically overrepresented in Massachusetts state prisons.” But the report also noted that Black and Latinx people were less likely to have their cases resolved through pretrial probation ­— a way to dismiss charges if the accused meet certain conditions — and receive much longer sentences than their white counterparts.

Retired U.S. Judge Nancy Gertner also notes the need to reform federal sentencing guidelines, arguing that all too often they have been proven to be biased and to result in packing the nation’s jails and prisons. She points to the way the 1994 Crime Bill (legislation sponsored by then-Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware) ushered in much harsher drug penalties for crack than for powder cocaine. This tied the hands of judges issuing sentences and disproportionately punished people of color in the process. “The disparity in the treatment of crack and cocaine really was backed up by anecdote and stereotype, not by data,” said Gertner, a lecturer at HLS. “There was no data suggesting that crack was infinitely more dangerous than cocaine. It was the young Black predator narrative.”

The First Step Act, a bipartisan prison reform bill aimed at reducing racial disparities in drug sentencing and signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2018, is just what its name implies, said Gertner.

“It reduces sentences to the merely inhumane rather than the grotesque. We still throw people in jail more than anybody else. We still resort to imprisonment, rather than thinking of other alternatives. We still resort to punishment rather than other models. None of that has really changed. I don’t deny the significance of somebody getting out of prison a year or two early, but no one should think that that’s reform.”

 Not just bad apples

Reform has long been a goal for federal leaders. Many heralded Obama-era changes aimed at eliminating racial disparities in policing and outlined in the report by The President’s Task Force on 21st Century policing. But HKS’s Smith saw them as largely symbolic. “It’s a nod to reform. But most of the reforms that are implemented in this country tend to be reforms that nibble around the edges and don’t really make much of a difference.”

Efforts such as diversifying police forces and implicit bias training do little to change behaviors and reduce violent conduct against people of color, said Smith, who cites studies suggesting a majority of Americans hold negative biases against Black and brown people, and that unconscious prejudices and stereotypes are difficult to erase.

“Experiments show that you can, in the context of a day, get people to think about race differently, and maybe even behave differently. But if you follow up, say, a week, or two weeks later, those effects are gone. We don’t know how to produce effects that are long-lasting. We invest huge amounts to implement such police reforms, but most often there’s no empirical evidence to support their efficacy.”

Even the early studies around the effectiveness of body cameras suggest the devices do little to change “officers’ patterns of behavior,” said Smith, though she cautions that researchers are still in the early stages of collecting and analyzing the data.

And though police body cameras have caught officers in unjust violence, much of the general public views the problem as anomalous.

“Despite what many people in low-income communities of color think about police officers, the broader society has a lot of respect for police and thinks if you just get rid of the bad apples, everything will be fine,” Smith added. “The problem, of course, is this is not just an issue of bad apples.”

Efforts such as diversifying police forces and implicit bias training do little to change behaviors and reduce violent conduct against people of color, said Sandra Susan Smith, a professor of criminal justice Harvard Kennedy School.

Community-based ways forward

Still Smith sees reason for hope and possible ways forward involving a range of community-based approaches. As part of the effort to explore meaningful change, Smith, along with Christopher Winship , Diker-Tishman Professor of Sociology at Harvard University and a member of the senior faculty at HKS, have organized “ Reimagining Community Safety: A Program in Criminal Justice Speaker Series ” to better understand the perspectives of practitioners, policymakers, community leaders, activists, and academics engaged in public safety reform.

Some community-based safety models have yielded important results. Smith singles out the Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets program (known as CAHOOTS ) in Eugene, Ore., which supplements police with a community-based public safety program. When callers dial 911 they are often diverted to teams of workers trained in crisis resolution, mental health, and emergency medicine, who are better equipped to handle non-life-threatening situations. The numbers support her case. In 2017 the program received 25,000 calls, only 250 of which required police assistance. Training similar teams of specialists who don’t carry weapons to handle all traffic stops could go a long way toward ending violent police encounters, she said.

“Imagine you have those kinds of services in play,” said Smith, paired with community-based anti-violence program such as Cure Violence , which aims to stop violence in targeted neighborhoods by using approaches health experts take to control disease, such as identifying and treating individuals and changing social norms. Together, she said, these programs “could make a huge difference.”

At Harvard Law School, students have been  studying how an alternate 911-response team  might function in Boston. “We were trying to move from thinking about a 911-response system as an opportunity to intervene in an acute moment, to thinking about what it would look like to have a system that is trying to help reweave some of the threads of community, a system that is more focused on healing than just on stopping harm” said HLS Professor Rachel Viscomi, who directs the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program and oversaw the research.

The forthcoming report, compiled by two students in the HLS clinic, Billy Roberts and Anna Vande Velde, will offer officials a range of ideas for how to think about community safety that builds on existing efforts in Boston and other cities, said Viscomi.

But Smith, like others, knows community-based interventions are only part of the solution. She applauds the Justice Department’s investigation into the Ferguson Police Department after the shooting of Brown. The 102-page report shed light on the department’s discriminatory policing practices, including the ways police disproportionately targeted Black residents for tickets and fines to help balance the city’s budget. To fix such entrenched problems, state governments need to rethink their spending priorities and tax systems so they can provide cities and towns the financial support they need to remain debt-free, said Smith.

Rethinking the 911-response system to being one that is “more focused on healing than just on stopping harm” is part of the student-led research under the direction of Law School Professor Rachel Viscomi, who heads up the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program.

Jon Chase/Harvard file photo

“Part of the solution has to be a discussion about how government is funded and how a city like Ferguson got to a place where government had so few resources that they resorted to extortion of their residents, in particular residents of color, in order to make ends meet,” she said. “We’ve learned since that Ferguson is hardly the only municipality that has struggled with funding issues and sought to address them through the oppression and repression of their politically, socially, and economically marginalized Black and Latino residents.”

Police contracts, she said, also need to be reexamined. The daughter of a “union man,” Smith said she firmly supports officers’ rights to union representation to secure fair wages, health care, and safe working conditions. But the power unions hold to structure police contracts in ways that protect officers from being disciplined for “illegal and unethical behavior” needs to be challenged, she said.

“I think it’s incredibly important for individuals to be held accountable and for those institutions in which they are embedded to hold them to account. But we routinely find that union contracts buffer individual officers from having to be accountable. We see this at the level of the Supreme Court as well, whose rulings around qualified immunity have protected law enforcement from civil suits. That needs to change.”

Other Harvard experts agree. In an opinion piece in The Boston Globe last June, Tomiko Brown-Nagin , dean of the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and the Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at HLS, pointed out the Court’s “expansive interpretation of qualified immunity” and called for reform that would “promote accountability.”

“This nation is devoted to freedom, to combating racial discrimination, and to making government accountable to the people,” wrote Brown-Nagin. “Legislators today, like those who passed landmark Civil Rights legislation more than 50 years ago, must take a stand for equal justice under law. Shielding police misconduct offends our fundamental values and cannot be tolerated.”

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A better path forward for criminal justice: Police reform

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Rashawn ray and rashawn ray senior fellow - governance studies @sociologistray clark neily clark neily senior vice president - cato institute @conlawwarrior.

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Below is the first chapter from “A Better Path Forward for Criminal Justice,” a report by the Brookings-AEI Working Group on Criminal Justice Reform. You can access other chapters from the report here .

Recent incidents centering on the deaths of unarmed Black Americans including George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor, William Green, and countless others have continued to apply pressure for wide sweeping police reform. To some, these incidents are the result of a few “bad apples.” 1

To others, they are examples of a system imbued with institutional and cultural failures that expose civilians and police officers to harm. Our article aims to combine perspectives from across the political spectrum on sensible police reform. We focus on short-, medium-, and long-term solutions for reducing officer-involved shootings, racial disparities in use of force, mental health issues among officers, and problematic officers who rotten the tree of law enforcement.

Level Setting

Violent crime has significantly decreased since the early 1990s. However, the number of mass shootings have increased and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security report being worried about domestic terrorism, even within law enforcement. Nonetheless, despite recent increases that some scholars associate with COVID-19 spillovers related to high unemployment and underemployment, violent crime is still much lower than it was three decades ago.

Some scholars attribute crime reductions to increased police presence, while others highlight increases in overall levels of education and employment. In the policy space, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 are often noted. We believe there is some validity to all of these perspectives. For example, SWAT deployment has increased roughly 1,400 percent since 1980. Coinciding with the 1986 Drug Bill, SWAT is often deployed for drug raids and no-knock warrants. 2 The death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman killed in her home in Louisville, Kentucky, is most recently highlighted as an example that demonstrates some of the problems with these tactics. 3

The 1994 Crime Bill ushered the COPS program and an increase in prisons around the country. 4 This legislation also coincided with stop-and-frisk policies and a rise in stand-your-ground laws that disproportionately disadvantaged Black Americans and led to overpolicing. It is an indisputable fact that Black people are more likely to have force used on them. In fact, Black people relative to white people are significantly less likely to be armed or be attacking at the time they are killed by police. This is a historical pattern, including during the 1960s when civil rights leaders were being beaten and killed. However, officer-involved killings, overall, have increased significantly over the past two decades. 5 And, we also know that if drugs were the only culprit, there would be drastically different outcomes for whites. Research shows that while Blacks and whites have similar rates of using drugs, and often times distributing drugs, there are huge disparities in who is arrested, incarcerated, and convicted for drug crimes. However, it is also an indisputable fact that predominately Black communities have higher levels of violent crime. Though some try to attribute higher crime in predominately Black neighborhoods to biology or culture, most scholars agree that inequitable resources related to housing, education, and employment contribute to these statistics. 6   7 8 Research documents that after controlling for segregation and disadvantage, predominately Black and white neighborhoods differ little in violent crime rates. 9

These are complex patterns, and Democrats and Republicans often differ on how America reached these outcomes and what we do about them. As a result, bipartisan police reform has largely stalled. Now, we know that in March 2021 the House of Representatives once again passed The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. States and localities are also presenting and passing a slew of police reforms, such as in Maryland where the state legislature passed the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2021. We are not here to debate the merits of these legislations, though we support much of the components, nor are we here to simply highlight low-hanging fruit such as banning no-knock warrants, creating national databases, or requiring body-worn cameras. People across the political aisle largely agree on these reforms. Instead, we aim to provide policy recommendations on larger-scale reforms, which scholars and practitioners across the political aisle agree needs to occur, in order to transform law enforcement in America and take us well into the twenty-first century. Our main themes include accountability, training, and culture.

Accordingly, our recommendations include:

Short-Term Reforms

Reform Qualified Immunity

  • Create National Standards for Training and De-escalation

Medium-Term Reforms

Restructure Civilian Payouts for Police Misconduct

Address officer wellness.

Long-Term Reforms

Restructure Regulations for Fraternal Order of Police Contracts

Change police culture to protect civilians and police, short-term reforms.

Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that courts invented to make it more difficult to sue police and other government officials who have been plausibly alleged to have violated somebody’s rights. 10 11 We believe this doctrine needs to be removed. 12 13 States also have a role to play here. The Law Enforcement Bill of Rights further doubles down on a lack of accountable for bad apples.

We are not out on a limb here. A recent YouGov and Cato poll found that over 60 percent of Americans support eliminating qualified immunity. 14 Over 80 percent of Americans oppose erasing historical records of officer misconduct. In this regard, most citizens have no interest making it more difficult to sue police officers, but police seem to have a very strong interest in maintaining the policy. However, not only do everyday citizens want it gone, but think tanks including The Brookings Institution and The Cato Institute have asserted the same. It is a highly problematic policy.

Though police chiefs might not say it publicly or directly, we have evidence that a significant number of them are quite frustrated by their inability to get rid of the bad apples, run their departments in ways that align with best practices they learn at Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers and National Association of Chiefs of Police, and discipline and terminate officers who deserve to be held accountable and jeopardize not only the public perception of their own department but drag down the social standing of the entire law enforcement profession. As noted above, The Law Enforcement Bill of Rights at the state level needs to be addressed. It further doubles down on qualified immunity and removes accountability for law enforcement.

National Standards for Training and De-escalation

In 2016, Daniel Shaver was fatally shot and killed by officer Philip Brailsford. Brailsford was charged but found not guilty. At the time of the killing, Shaver was unarmed as he lay dead in a hotel hallway. Police experts critiqued Brailsford’s tactics to de-escalate the situation. As he entered the scene, he had both hands on his M4 rifle and eliminated all other tools or de-escalation tactics. Brailsford was fired, tried for murder, and then rehired. He ultimately retired due to PTSD. Highlighting the roles of militarization, mental health, qualified immunity, and other policy-related topics, this incident shows why there is a need for national standards for training and de-escalation. Many officers would have approached this situation differently, suggesting there are a myriad of tactics and strategies being taught.

Nationally, officers receive about 50 hours of firearm training during the police academy. They receive less than 10 hours of de-escalation training. So, when they show up at a scene and pull their weapon, whether it be on teenagers walking down the street after playing a basketball game or someone in a hotel or even a car (like in the killing of Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb), poor decisions and bad outcomes should not be surprising.

Police officers regardless of whether they live in Kentucky or Arizona need to have similar training. Among the roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country, there is wide variation in the amount of training that officers have to complete as well as what type of training they complete. With the amount of travel that Americans engage in domestically, law enforcement has not kept up to speed with ensuring that officers receive the same training. Consequently, police officers may be put in positions to make bad decisions because of a lack of the implementation of federal standards. Funding can be provided to have federally certified trainers who work with localities within states, counties, and cities.


From 2015–2019, the 20 largest U.S. municipalities spent over $2 billion in civilian payouts for police misconduct. Rather than the police department budget, these funds mostly come from general funds. 15 So, not only is the officer absolved from civil or financial culpability, but the police department often faces little financial liability. Instead, the financial burden falls onto the municipality; thus, taxpayers. This money could be going toward education, work, and infrastructure.

Not only are the financial settlement often expensive, like the $20 million awarded to William Green’s family in Prince George’s County, Maryland, but the associated legal fees and deteriorated community trust are costly. In a place like Chicago, over the past 20 years, it has spent about $700 million on civilian payouts for police misconduct. New York City spent about $300 million in the span of a few years.

We assert that civilian payouts for police misconduct must be restructured. Indemnification will be eliminated, making the officer responsible, and requiring them to purchase professional liability insurance the exact same way that other occupations such as doctors and lawyers do. This would give insurance companies a strong incentive to identify the problem officers early, to raise their rates just the way that insurance companies raise the rates on a bad driver or a doctor who engages in malpractice. In this regard, the cost of the insurance policy would increase the more misconduct an officer engaged in. Eventually, the worst officers would become uninsurable, and therefore unemployable. This would help to increase accountability. Instead of police chiefs having difficulties removing bad officers through pushback from the Fraternal Order of Police Union, bad officers would simply be unemployable by virtue of the fact that they cannot secure professional liability insurance.

Bottom line, police almost never suffer any financial consequences for their own misconduct.

Shifting civilian payouts away from tax money and to police department insurance policies would instantly change the accountability structure.

Shifting civilian payouts away from tax money and to police department insurance policies would instantly change the accountability structure. Police are almost always indemnified for that misconduct when there is a payout. And, what that means is simply that their department or the city, which is to say us, the taxpayers, end up paying those damages claims. That is absolutely the wrong way to do it.

Most proposals for restructuring civilian payouts for police misconduct have included some form of liability insurance for police departments and/or individual officers. This means shifting the burden from taxpayer dollars to police department insurance policies. If a departmental policy, the municipality should pay for that policy, but the money should come from the police department budget. Police department budget increases should take settlement costs into account and now simply allow for increased budgets to cover premium increases. This is a similar approach to healthcare providers working in a hospital. If individual officers have liability insurance, they fall right in line with other occupations that have professional liability insurance.

Congress could approve a pilot program for municipalities to explore the potential impacts of police department insurance policies versus individual officer liability insurance, and even some areas that use both policies simultaneously. Regardless, it is clear that the structure of civilian payouts for police misconduct needs to change. We believe not only will the change provide more funding for education, work, and infrastructure, but it will increase accountability and give police chiefs and municipalities the ability to rid departments of bad apples that dampen an equitable and transparent cultural environment.

Mental Health Counseling

In this broader discussion of policing, missing is not only the voices of law enforcement themselves, but also what is happening in their own minds and in their own bodies. Recent research has highlighted that about 80 percent of officers suffer from chronic stress. They suffer from depression, anxiety. They have relationship problems, and they get angered easily. One out of six report being suicidal. Another one out of six report substance abuse problems. Most sobering, 90 percent of them never seek help. 16  We propose that officers should have mandatory mental health counseling on a quarterly basis. Normalizing mental health counseling will reduce the stigma associated with it.

It is also important for law enforcement to take a serious look into the role of far-right extremism on officer attitudes and behaviors. There is ample evidence from The Department of Homeland Security showing the pervasive ways that far-right extremists target law enforcement. 17 Academic research examining social dominance ideation among police officers may be a key way to root out extremism during background checks and psychological evaluations. Social dominance can be assessed through survey items and decision-making simulations, such as the virtual reality simulations conducted at the Lab for Applied Social Science Research at the University of Maryland.

Community Policing

Community police is defined in a multitude of ways. One simple way we think about community policing is whether officers experience the community in everyday life, often when they are not on duty. Do they live in the community, send their children to local schools, exercise at the neighborhood gym, and shop at the main grocery store? Often times, police officers engage in this type of community policing in predominately white and affluent neighborhoods but less in predominately Black or Latino neighborhoods, even when they have higher household income levels. Police officers also live farther away from the areas where they work. While this may be a choice for some, others simply cannot afford to live there, particularly in major cities and more expensive areas of the country. Many police officers are also working massive amounts of over time to make ends meet, provide for their families, and send children to college.

Altogether, community policing requires a set of incentives. We propose increasing the required level of education, which can justify wage increases. This can help to reduce the likelihood of police officers working a lot of hours and making poor decisions because of lack of sleep or stress. We also propose requiring that officers live within or near the municipalities where they work. Living locally can increase police-community relations and improve trust. Officers should receive rent subsidies or down payment assistance to enhance this process.


Unions are important. However, the Fraternity Order of Police Union has become so deeply embedded in law enforcement that it obstructs the ability for equitable and transparent policing, even when interacting with police chiefs. Police union contracts need to be evaluated to ensure they do not obstruct the ability for officers who engage in misconduct to be held accountable. Making changes to the Law Enforcement Bill of Rights at the state helps with this, but the Congress should provide more regulations to help local municipalities with this process.

Police have to be of the people and for the people. Often times, police officers talk about themselves as if they are detached from the community. Officers often view themselves as warriors at war with the people in the communities they serve. Police officers embody an “us versus them” perspective, rather than viewing themselves to be part of the community. 18

It must be a change to police culture regarding how police officers view themselves and view others. Part of changing culture deals with transforming how productivity and awards are allocated. Police officers overwhelmingly need to make forfeitures in the form of arrests, citations, and tickets to demonstrate leadership and productivity. Police officers rarely get credit for the everyday, mundane things they do to make their communities safe and protect and serve. We believe there must be a fundamental reconceptualization of both the mission of police and the culture in which that mission is carried out. Policing can be about respecting individuals and not using force. It is an ethical approach to policing that requires incentives positive outcomes rather than deficits that rewards citations and force.

T here must be a fundamental reconceptualization of both the mission of police and the culture in which that mission is carried out.

Recommendations for Future Research

First, research needs to examine how community policing and officer wellness programs can simultaneously improve outcomes for the community and law enforcement. The either/or model simply does not work any longer. Instead, research should determine what is best for local communities and improves the health and well-being of law enforcement. Second, future research on policing needs to examine the role that protests against police brutality, particularly related to Black Lives Matter protests, are having on reform at the local, state, and federal levels. It is important for policymakers to readily understand the demands of their constituents and ways to create peace and civility.

Finally, research needs to fully examine legislation to reallocate and shift funding away from and within police department budgets. 19  By taking a market-driven, evidence-based approach to police funding, the same methodology can be used that will lead to different results depending on the municipality. Police department budgets should be fiscally responsible and shift funding to focusing on solving violent crime, while simultaneously reducing use of force on low-income and racial/ethnic minority communities. It is a tall order, but federal funding could be allocated to examine all of these important research endeavors. It is a must if the United States is to stay as a world leader in this space. It is clear our country is falling short at this time.

We have aimed to take a deep dive into large policy changes needed for police reform that centers around accountability, finances, culture, and communities. Though there is much discussion about reallocating police funding, we believe there should be an evidence-based, market-driven approach. While some areas may need to reallocate funding, others may need to shift funding within the department, or even take both approaches. Again, with roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies, there is wide variation in funds provided for policing and how those funds are spent. This is why it is imperative that standards be set at the federal level to help municipalities grapple with this important issue and the others we highlight in this report.


Alexander, Michelle. 2010. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness . The New Press.

Brooks, Rosa. 2021. Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City : Penguin.

Horace, Matthew. 2019. The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement . Hatchette Books.

Ray, Rashawn. “ How Should We Enhance Police Accountability in the United States? ” The Brookings Institution, August 25, 2020.

  • Ray, Rashawn. “Bad Apples come from Rotten Trees in Policing.” The Brookings Institution. May 30, 2020. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/how-we-rise/2020/05/30/bad-apples-come-from-rotten-trees-in-policing/
  • Neily, Clark. “Get a Warrant.” Cato Institute. October 27, 2020. Available at: https://www.cato.org/blog/get-warrant
  • Brown, Melissa and Rashawn Ray. “Breonna Taylor, Police Brutality, and the Importance of #SayHerName.” The Brookings Institution. September 25, 2020. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/how-we-rise/2020/09/25/breonna-taylor-police-brutality-and-the-importance-of-sayhername/
  • Galston, William and Rashawn Ray. “Did the 1994 Crime Bill Cause Mass Incarceration?” The Brookings Institution. August 28, 2020. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/08/28/did-the-1994-crime-bill-cause-mass-incarceration/
  • Edwards, Frank, Hedwig Lee, and Michael Esposito. “Risk of Being Killed by Police Use of Force in the United States by Age, Race-Ethnicity, and Sex.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 2019. 116(34):16793 LP – 16798.
  • Peterson, Ruth D. and Lauren J. Krivo.  Divergent Social Worlds: Neighborhood Crime and the Racial-Spatial Divide , 2010. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Friedson, Michael and Patrick Sharkey. “Violence and Neighborhood Disadvantage after the Crime Decline,”  The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2015. 660:1, 341–58.
  • Jeffrey D. Morenoff and Robert J. Sampson. 1997. “Violent Crime and The Spatial Dynamics of Neighborhood Transition: Chicago, 1970–1990,”  Social Forces  76:1, 31–64.
  • Peterson, Ruth D. and Lauren J. Krivo. 2010.  Divergent Social Worlds: Neighborhood Crime and the Racial-Spatial Divide , New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Sobel, Nathaniel. “What Is Qualified Immunity, and What Does It Have to Do With Police Reform?” Lawfare. June 6, 2020. Available at: https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-qualified-immunity-and-what-does-it-have-do-police-reform
  • Schweikert, Jay. “Qualified Immunity: A Legal, Practical, and Moral Failure.” Cato Institute. September 14, 2020. Available at: https://www.cato.org/policy-analysis/qualified-immunity-legal-practical-moral-failure
  • Neily, Clark. “To Make Police Accountable, End Qualified Immunity. Cato Institute. May 31, 2020. Available at: https://www.cato.org/commentary/make-police-accountable-end-qualified-immunity
  • Ray, Rashawn. “How to Fix the Financial Gymnastics of Police Misconduct Settlements.” Lawfare. April 1, 2021. Available at: https://www.lawfareblog.com/how-fix-financial-gymnastics-police-misconduct-settlements
  • Ekins, Emily. “Poll: 63% of Americans Favor Eliminating Qualified Immunity for Police.” Cato Institute. July 16, 2020. Available at: https://www.cato.org/survey-reports/poll-63-americans-favor-eliminating-qualified-immunity-police#introduction
  • Ray, Rashawn. “Restructuring Civilian Payouts for Police Misconduct.” Sociological Forum, 2020. 35(3): 806–812.
  • Ray, Rashawn. “What does the shooting of Leonard Shand tell us about the mental health of civilians and police?” The Brookings Institution. October 16, 2019. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/how-we-rise/2019/10/16/what-does-the-shooting-of-leonard-shand-tell-us-about-the-mental-health-of-civilians-and-police/
  • Allen, John et al. “Preventing Targeted Violence Against Faith-Based Communities.” Homeland Security Advisory Council, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. December 17, 2019. Available at: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/preventing_targeted_violence_against_faith-based_communities_subcommittee_0.pdf >.
  • Ray, Rashawn, Clark Neily, and Arthur Rizer. “What Would Meaningful Police Reform Look Like?” Video, Project Sphere, Cato Institute, 2020. Available at: https://www.projectsphere.org/episode/what-would-meaningful-police-reform-look-like/
  • Ray, Rashawn. “What does ‘Defund the Police’ Mean and does it have Merit?” The Brookings Institution, June 19, 2020. Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/06/19/what-does-defund-the-police-mean-and-does-it-have-merit/

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Protecting Against Police Brutality and Official Misconduct

Amendments to the criminal civil rights law could provide the federal government with a powerful tool to pursue law enforcement accountability.

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  • Eric H. Holder Jr.
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  • Download Annotated Proposal

The protest movement sparked by George Floyd’s killing last year has forced a nationwide reckoning with a wide range of deep-rooted racial inequities — in our economy, in health care, in education, and even in our democracy — that undermine the American promise of freedom and justice for all. That tragic incident provoked widespread demonstrations and stirred strong emotions from people across our nation.

While our state and local governments wrestle with how to reimagine relationships between police and the communities they serve, the Justice Department has long been hamstrung in its ability to mete out justice when people’s civil rights are violated.

The Civil Rights Acts passed during Reconstruction made it a federal crime to deprive someone of their constitutional rights while acting in an official capacity, a provision now known as Section 242. Today, when state or local law enforcement are accused of misconduct, the federal government is often seen as the best avenue for justice — to conduct a neutral investigation and to serve as a backstop when state or local investigations falter. I’m proud that the Justice Department pursued more Section 242 cases under my leadership than under any other attorney general before or since.

But due to Section 242’s vague wording and a series of Supreme Court decisions that raised the standard of proof needed for a civil rights violation, it’s often difficult for federal prosecutors to hold law enforcement accountable using this statute.

This timely report outlines changes to Section 242 that would clarify its scope, making it easier to bring cases and win convictions for civil rights violations of these kinds. Changing the law would allow for charges in cases where prosecutors might currently conclude that the standard of proof cannot be met. Perhaps more important, it attempts to deter potential future misconduct by acting as a nationwide reminder to law enforcement and other public officials of the constitutional limits on their authority.

The statutory changes recommended in this proposal are carefully designed to better protect civil rights that are already recognized. And because Black, Latino, and Native Americans are disproportionately victimized by the kinds of official misconduct the proposal addresses, these changes would advance racial justice.

This proposal would also help ensure that law enforcement officers in every part of the United States live up to the same high standards of professionalism. I have immense regard for the vital role that police play in all of America’s communities and for the sacrifices that they and their families are too often called to make on behalf of their country. It is in great part for their sake — and for their safety — that we must seek to build trust in all communities.

We need to send a clear message that the Constitution and laws of the United States prohibit public officials from engaging in excessive force, sexual misconduct, and deprivation of needed medical care. This proposal will better allow the Justice Department to pursue justice in every appropriate case, across the country.

Eric H. Holder Jr. Eighty-Second Attorney General of the United States


Excessive use of force by law enforcement, sexual abuse by public officials and others in positions of authority, and the denial of needed medical care to people in police or correctional custody undermine the rule of law, our government, and our systems of justice.

When public officials engage in misconduct, people expect justice, often in the form of a federal investigation and criminal prosecution. In 2020 alone, instances of police violence, including the killings of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and Breonna Taylor and the shooting of Jacob Blake, led to demands for increased police accountability and federal civil rights investigations. footnote1_5xwwatl 1 See Rashawn Ray, “How Can We Enhance Police Accountability in the United States?,” in Policy 2020 , Brookings Institution, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/policy2020/votervital/how-can-we-enhance-police-accountability-in-the-united-states/ [ https://perma.cc/8Z9S-GRCU ]; and Elliot C. McLaughlin, “Breonna Taylor Investigations Are Far from Over as Demands for Transparency Mount,” CNN, September 24, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/24/us/breonna-taylor-investigations-remaining/index.html [ https://perma.cc/4SR6-FG85 ]. See also, e.g., U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, “Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Statement on the Death of George Floyd and Riots,” press release, May 31, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/usao-edca/pr/federal-state-and-local-law-enforcement-statement-death-george-floyd-and-riots [ https://perma.cc/V69J-49JR ]; and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, “Statement Regarding Federal Civil Rights Investigation into Shooting of Mr. Jacob Blake,” press release, January 5, 2021, https://www.justice.gov/usao-edwi/pr/statement-regarding-federal-civil-rights-investigation-shooting-mr-jacob-blake [ https://perma.cc/5GCM-WJ7H ].

For almost all incidents involving violence by law enforcement, there is one federal criminal law that applies: 18 U.S.C. § 242. Unlike nearly all other criminal laws, the statute does not clearly define what conduct is a criminal act. It describes the circumstances under which a person, acting with the authority of government, can be held criminally responsible for violating someone’s constitutional rights, but it does not make clear to officials what particular actions they cannot take. footnote2_11z75up 2 Throughout this report, people who could be charged under § 242 are most often referred to as “public officials” or “law enforcement.” The Supreme Court has held, however, that § 242 may also be used to prosecute private actors whose authority to act in a given situation is derived from the state, such as a guard at a privately run prison. United States v. Price, 383 U.S. 787, 794 (1966), https://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/383/787.html [ https://perma.cc/V6FU-ZQR6 ] (“To act ‘under color’ of law does not require that the accused be an officer of the State. It is enough that he is a willful participant in joint activity with the State or its agents.”).

It need not be this way. The federal government must renew our national commitment to civil rights by enacting a criminal statutory framework that protects the fundamental constitutional rights of people who come into contact with public officials, including those who are being arrested or are in custody. footnote3_5lson6g 3 This report proposes changes to federal criminal civil rights laws that would apply to any public official who is acting with governmental authority, including police, prosecutors, judges, correctional officials, and more. Even though the law would apply to any public official who violated it, this report frequently uses the term “law enforcement” or “police” instead of “public officials” in discussions of violence and use of force since law enforcement officers — including police, correctional officials, sheriffs and their deputies, and federal agents — are the public officials most frequently involved in these incidents.

Recent instances of racialized police violence have made this matter all the more urgent. In 2020 alone, police killed more than 1,100 people. footnote4_xz4co3j 4 Mapping Police Violence, last accessed February 5, 2021, https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/ . Black Americans are three times more likely to be killed by a police officer than white Americans and nearly twice as likely to be killed as Latino Americans. footnote5_8yntfwf 5 Mapping Police Violence. See also Timothy Williams, “Study Supports Suspicion That Police Are More Likely to Use Force on Blacks,” New York Times , July 7, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/08/us/study-supports-suspicion-that-police-use-of-force-is-more-likely-for-blacks.html (“African-Americans are far more likely than whites and other groups to be the victims of use of force by the police, even when racial disparities in crime are taken into account.”). Police killing is a leading cause of death for Black men in the United States — one in every 1,000 Black men will die at the hands of police. footnote6_r77nj1a 6 Frank Edwards, Hedwig Lee, and Michael Esposito, “Risk of Being Killed by Police Use of Force in the United States by Age, Race-Ethnicity, and Sex,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116, no.34 (2019): 16793, 16794, https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/116/34/16793.full.pdf [ https://perma.cc/8W88-XWR9 ]. In 2019, Black people represented 24 percent of those killed, despite making up only 13 percent of the population, and although Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed by the police than white people, they are 1.3 times more likely than whites to be unarmed in such incidents. footnote7_njoq25w 7 Mapping Police Violence. These disparities have led unprecedented numbers of Americans to demand justice for victims of police violence and changes to our criminal justice system. footnote8_rpeoku9 8 Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, “Widespread Desire for Policing and Criminal Justice Reform,” June 15, 2020, https://apnorc.org/projects/widespread-desire-for-policing-and-criminal-justice-reform/ [ https://perma.cc/HYU2–8J9R ].

In addition to law enforcement brutality, other types of official misconduct shock the conscience. These include sexual misconduct by public officials; officials’ failure to provide medical treatment to people who are under arrest or in jail or prison; and pervasive violence by correctional officers in jails and prisons, where excessive force against incarcerated people is often shielded from public view. footnote9_x1lrw4k 9 Lauren Brooke-Eisen, “The Violence Against People Behind Bars That We Don’t See,” Time , September 1, 2020, https://time.com/5884104/prison-violence-dont-see/ [ https://perma.cc/GLP4-Y9XP ]. The “shocks the conscience” standard is the long-established test for a Fourteenth Amendment violation under Rochin v. California , 342 U.S. 165 (1952), https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/342/165 [ https://perma.cc/ZJ6S-UEDZ ]. Yet cases are rarely prosecuted under § 242. footnote10_jyek22k 10 TRAC Reports, “Police Officers Rarely Charged for Excessive Use of Force in Federal Court,” June 17, 2020, https://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/crim/615/ [ https://perma.cc/9LTD-VN9N ] (reporting that “between 1990 and 2019, federal prosecutors filed § 242 charges about 41 times per year on average, with as few as 19 times (2005) and as many as 67 times in one year”). See also U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division Highlights: 2009–2017 , January 2017, 32–34, https://www.justice.gov/crt/page/file/923096/download [ https://perma.cc/Q3Y3-FQCB ] (reporting that the Civil Rights Division prosecuted 580 law enforcement officials for committing willful violations of civil rights and related crimes between 2009 and 2016); Brian R. Johnson and Phillip B. Bridgmon, “Depriving Civil Rights: An Exploration of 18 U.S.C. 242 Criminal Prosecutions 2001–2006,” Criminal Justice Law Review 34, no. 2 (2009), 196, 204 (observing that prosecutions under § 242 are a relatively rare event, and identifying a very small number of sexual misconduct cases); and Paul J. Watford, “ Screws v. United States and the Birth of Federal Civil Rights Enforcement,” Marquette Law Review 98, no. 1 (2014), 465, 483, https://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5229&context=mulr [ https://perma.cc/737F-XGW4 ].

Congress should make structural changes to our laws to help protect the civil rights of all people. If passed, the legislation recommended in this report would impact how law enforcement, corrections, and other public officials operate nationwide. By more specifically defining what actions violate civil rights, the law would put officials on clearer notice of what is forbidden. In addition, the proposed statute would specifically codify the authority to prosecute fellow officers or supervisors who know a civil rights violation is occurring but fail to intervene something the law already allows. footnote11_w7k6b8u 11 See U.S. Department of Justice, “Law Enforcement Misconduct,” updated July 6, 2020, https://www.justice.gov/crt/law-enforcement-misconduct [ https://perma.cc/LW5V-HZ8G ] (“An officer who purposefully allows a fellow officer to violate a victim’s Constitutional rights may be prosecuted for failure to intervene to stop the Constitutional violation. To prosecute such an officer, the government must show that the defendant officer was aware of the Constitutional violation, had an opportunity to intervene, and chose not to do so. This charge is often appropriate for supervisory officers who observe uses of excessive force without stopping them, or who actively encourage uses of excessive force but do not directly participate in them.”). These changes to § 242 should result in modifications to police and law enforcement training across the country and also deter civil rights violations. footnote12_86ym1ol 12 Local law enforcement policies often provide vague, imprecise direction on use of force. These policies may focus on the extent of what is legally permitted rather than on best practices. Police Executive Research Forum, Guiding Principles on Use of Force , 2016, 15–16, https://www.policeforum.org/assets/30%20guiding%20principles.pdf [ https://perma.cc/AQ5S-3Q5F ]. For those public officials and law enforcement officers who do deprive someone of his or her civil rights, these changes would lower some of the barriers to federal prosecutions and civil lawsuits. footnote13_7bctc10 13 The amendments proposed herein could also be made to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, although the specifics of § 1983 are beyond the scope of this report. In either event, a clarification of the civil rights protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States would make more plain which rights are “clearly established” in the context of civil lawsuits. See discussion of qualified immunity below at notes 47–49 and in accompanying text.

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For 9 minutes and 29 seconds, Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. This deadly use of force by the now-former Minneapolis police officer has reinvigorated a very public debate about police brutality and racism.

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Update 26 May 2021 : On 20 April 2021, Derek Chauvin was convicted of causing the death of George Floyd. The text has been modified to include updated information on how long Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck.

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Police Brutality - List of Free Essay Examples And Topic Ideas

Police brutality refers to the excessive or unnecessary use of force by law enforcement officers. Essays on this topic could explore the incidences of police brutality, its causes, and its impact on communities, particularly marginalized groups. Further discussions might extend to the legal frameworks governing law enforcement conduct, the calls for police reform, and the movements advocating for accountability and justice. We have collected a large number of free essay examples about Police Brutality you can find at Papersowl. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.

Police Brutality and Racism

The Declaration of Independence was created to protect the inalienable rights that all Americans receive at birth, yet police brutality continues to threaten the rights of African Americans everywhere. Police everywhere need to be given mandatory psychological tests in order to gain awareness of racial bias in law enforcement and allow citizens to slowly gain trust for the officers in law enforcement. No one wants a child to grow up in a world filled with hate. As Martin Luther King […]

The Effects Police Brutality has on Society

Introduction There are many issues that can cause dysfunction in a society. Police brutality has become debatable and a major issue America faces today. Police brutality can be traced back all the way to the early 1870s. Police brutality is the use of excessive force by a police officer. Which can arrange from anything as far as assaults, lethal force, harassment and much more. The use of force has been around for decades as a way of solving conflicts and […]

Is Racism Still a Current Issue in America

Racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. It is no secret that America has a racist past, with issues like hate crimes, police brutality, and slavery. However, the concern of racism is still apparent in American society today. Completely eliminating racism will be very hard. However, to start the process of eliminating this issue, we need to start by recognizing our own […]

We will write an essay sample crafted to your needs.

Police Brutality – most Serious Violations to the Black Community

Police brutality started in the early 70s, due to the lack of equal rights for African Americans. Over the last past several years, it has left citizens wondering if policemen are doing their jobs or just looking for another murder case. Due to all the unnecessary shooting, rough treatment, and beating upon black people three radical black organizers created Black Lives Matter. In the result of this injustice, African American lady, Korryn Gaines, a 23-year old woman, was pulled over […]

Police Brutality – Systemic Misuse of Authority and Abuse of Police Powers

Police brutality is the systematic misuse of authority and abuse of police powers through the unwarranted infliction of bodily or psychological pain to civilians by law enforcers during their official duties. The routine enforcement of law using excessive force against unarmed civilians and the correctional misuse of facilities to manipulate, inflict, injure or subject a civilian to torture amounts to police brutality. Militarily prisons and federal penal correctional facilities through the personnel operating the facilities can practice police brutality through […]

About Black Lives Matter Movement

The fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution are inherent for all. There is no question that all people (blacks, Latinos, Indians, or white) were created free and equal with certain inalienable rights. This is a universally accepted principle. Segregation and racism against minorities in this country have been widely discussed, and prominent figures have taken a stand asking people to join in the fight for equality. This stand addresses the significance of black lives. However, contrasting opinions on […]

Defacement Reflecting on Police Brutality: a Jean Michel-Basquiat Story

Thesis statement: Art tends be a reflection of how an artist is feeling in a certain moment or time and at times it dives into the mind of the artist during the darkest periods of their lives. Artists tend to find inspiration in circumstances or instances that directly affect them on an emotional level. May that be as a result of a death or even a life altering incident that maybe they didn't experience in person but it still hit […]

Police Brutality Culture

The use of excessive force on civilians whether innocent or suspected is deemed as Police brutality. And everyone can attest to the fact that police brutality is ever on the rise. We see it every other day in the news, on the internet and some of us have even witnessed it just around the corners in our neighborhoods. Even if it is plastered all over the media, those officers seem to still remain in the lines of duties. Why? Do […]

Police Abuse of Power

Police brutality refers to systematic misuse of authority and powers through the unwarranted infliction of bodily or psychological pain to civilians by law enforcers during their official duties. The routine enforcement of law using excessive force against unarmed civilians and the correctional misuse of facilities to manipulate, inflict, injure or subject a civilian to torture amounts to police brutality. Militarily prisons and federal penal correctional facilities, through the personnel operating the facilities, can practice police brutality through extreme subjection of […]

Institutional Racism and Police Brutality in Education System

In today society there are several police brutality against black people, and in some institutional systems black people still experience racism from people who thinks they are superior. Racism is an issue which emerged from history till now and it has become a major problem in our society. This has affected some families to live their dreams and influences other people mindset towards each other. Institutional Racism is expressed in social and political institution which is governed by the behavioral […]

Police Brutality against Black Communities

Throughout the years, the issue of police brutality against black communities has been a major problem affecting many countries in the United States. Unjustified killings have taken place in the black community, which has clearly led to a national outcry for justice and equality. The issue has become particularly notable in recent years thanks to the numerous murders of young black people that have been committed by police officers. Research shows that young black men were nine times more likely […]

Does the Civil Rights Movement have an Effect on the Way Minorities are Treated by Authorities?

Abstract The civil rights movement was a mass popular movement to secure for African Americans equal access to and opportunities for the basic privileges and rights of U.S. citizenship. While the roots of this movement go back to the 19th century, its highlighted movements were in the 1950s and 1960s. African American men and women, along with white American’s and other minority citizens, organized and led the movement at national and local levels nationwide. The civil rights movement centered on […]

Police Brutality against Latinos in the U.S.

This research focused on the history of police brutality against Latinos in the U.S. and thedifferent types of police brutality. It starts off with an overview of what police brutality is and providing examples of police brutality in the different states. The examples intend to provide the reader with knowledge of how police brutality affects the Latino community and some other minority groups. Additionally, it talks about injunctions and the system of points (used in Boston), which allow police officers […]

Police Brutality – Aggressive Overuse of Power

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 […]

Police Brutality – Misconduct and Shootings

Abstract In the United States, Police brutality has been a source of concern for many years. Police officers have been known to use excessive and unnecessary force on innocent and unarmed civilians. There have been numerous instances of police officers killing civilians when such force was unwarranted. It is important to look at how police brutality affects the community as well as fellow police officers. There are a number of measures that should be taken to stop this menace. The […]

Police Brutality Towards African Americans

Dear Governor Brown, In this letter I wanted to discuss an epidemic that has occured in America these past few years, which would be police brutality towards African Americans. Police brutality dates as far back as the 1960's but recently there have been many cases towards black people where they do not pose a threat but are still beaten or even killed. Statistics show that police killed 1,147 people in 2017 and 25% of those killed were black people even […]

An American Lie the American Dream

“In recent years, thousands of Americans have died at the hands of law enforcement, a reality made even more shameful when we consider how many of these victims were young, poor, mentally ill, Black or unarmed” (Hill 1).  Minorities have struggled for years to be accepted into a society that excludes them. In “Nobody” by Marc Lamont Hill, he compares the injustices occurring today to those that happened years ago. African Americans are constantly suffering from racial discrimination and denial […]

Stop Police Brutality against Minority’s

Police abuse remains one of the most serious human rights violations in the United States. Over the past decades, police have acted out in ways that have made people wonder, are our officer really doing their jobs?. Unjustified shootings have contributed to the ever present problem of police brutality in America. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States mandated racial segregation in […]

Police Brutality: Hispanics, Asian, and African American

Almost everyone can be involved in police brutality including Hispanics, Asian, and African American. But, black people are most likely to be shot by police than their white peers. However, according to Vox news says, An analysis of the available FBI data by Dara Lind for Vox found that US police kill black people at disproportionate rates: Black people accounted for 31 percent of police killing victims in 2012. In other words, that black people are accusing as a threat […]

Different Forms of Police Brutality

According to The Law Dictionary, police brutality is defined as the use of excessive and/ or unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians. The brutality can come in several forms; ranging from nerve gas, guns, false arrests, racial profiling, and sexual abuse. Many black men and women fall victims to officers. Police killed 1,147 people in 2017. Black people were 25% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population (Daniliana 1). Since 1992, there has been an […]

Police Brutality – Prevalent Problem in American Society

America has on average one of the highest rates of police violence compared to other developed countries. While it is hard to determine the precise reason to why that is, many argue that it is directly related to racism that has, and still exists today. Until recent times, people of Caucasian decent have held much of the power in the United States government. Meaning that policies were made with white favoritism in mind. This is known as systemic racism. One […]

The Efforts of the Black Lives Matter Movement

Social Change: Police Brutality and The Efforts of the Black Lives Matter Movement CRM 328 Spring 2018 Rodney Morvan Introduction America is known as the land of opportunity and freedom, where equality prevails all across the country, and the justice system is said to protect each and every one of us equally and fairly. However, in 2012, neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman, while on patrol, shot and killed 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was subsequently taken to trial and, surprisingly, […]

Police Brutality in America

The rate has increased over the past years. They call America now a slaughter house; killings leading to uproars in the cities and mass shootings. Police brutality does not only happen to African American, but people of all ethnicities. Police officers were once called the peacekeepers of our community, but now we as people are scared to even leave our home. This is a problem beginning to grow more and more each day. The biggest issue right now is that […]

Police Brutality against Women

Police brutality is one of several forms of police misconduct, which involves undue violence by police officers. It seems to happen in several countries, but very often in the United States against African-Americans. Studies show that the US police kill more in days than other countries do in years. (The Guardian, 2018). Generally, when individuals discuss police violence against African-Americans; recurring names such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner continuously appear in broadcast media. It is very rare […]

Police Brutality and its Contributors

In the past two years, the United States has seen an extreme increase in the police use of deadly force. This deadly increase is speculated to have many contributing factors, some contributing factors are, internalized racism, knowing that if they do something they will not be punished, and the blue wall of silence. These are just a few of the many contributors to police brutality. People may believe that this is the way that we must live, and that nothing […]

Police Brutality and Racial Profiling

If you were stopped by police officers and all they saw was your race, imagine how that would have felt. Sadly, this happens in the real world to people of color daily. Racial profiling is a controversial and illegal form of discrimination, where people are targeted for suspicion based on their race or ethnicity rather than on evidence-based suspicious behavior. Racial profiling is a common practice used by law enforcement agencies in the United States. It is based on the […]

Black Lives Matter against Violence and Racism

Black Lives Matter is a movement that is originated by African-Americans. Black Lives Matter is against violence and racism towards black people. Police brutality is one of several forms of police misconduct which involves violence by police. Police brutality is also a part of why Black Lives Matter exist, because it is going on in many countries. While although illegal, it can be used under the color of law. Black Lives Matter was developed to protect black people from the […]

Police Brutality against Black People

The source of racial disparity that pervades the United States criminal justice system, and for African Americans in particular, lies within the bounds of racial discrimination. In order for this treatment to be stopped, members of society must make efforts to alter a mindset that draws it roots from a dark history of slavery and manipulation. Plan Addressing Diawara’s view that society views whiteness as the norm by objectifying races and creating economic and public policies, Barak Obama’s 2008 Father […]

History of Police Brutality

America’s history allows spectators to realize that police brutality is not a modern-day problem, however it is a rising issue. As a nation built up of diverse groups, it is not a surprise that this country has an interminable past of acts of brutality, especially when it comes to individuals who have been incarcerated which is a huge portion of America’s population. A rising amount of police officers are now unlawfully abusing their power, and many prisoners are not willing […]

US Police Brutality and African Americans

Police brutality is a major issue in the United States, with its target against African Americans being a longstanding problem. The history of police brutality closely relates to racism and discrimination in America. Many factors, such as institutional racism, poverty, education, and even the drug war, contribute to this issue. With these factors combined, there is an increased risk of violence from law enforcement officials toward African Americans. According to Schwartz and Jahn (2020), African Americans are three times more […]

How To Write an Essay About Police Brutality

Introduction to the issue of police brutality.

When approaching the sensitive and complex topic of police brutality for an essay, it is crucial to start with a clear definition and understanding of what police brutality encompasses. This term generally refers to the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers, often tied to a broader discussion of systemic issues within policing institutions. In your introduction, provide context for the essay by highlighting the significance of this issue, its impact on communities, and its relevance in the current social and political climate. This opening segment sets the stage for a deep and thoughtful exploration of the various dimensions of police brutality, including its causes, effects, and the ongoing debates surrounding it.

Analyzing the Causes and Manifestations

The body of your essay should delve into a detailed analysis of police brutality. This includes examining the root causes, such as systemic racism, lack of adequate training, and issues within the criminal justice system. Discuss different manifestations of police brutality, from physical violence to psychological tactics, and consider how these actions affect not only individuals but also communities and public trust in law enforcement. Utilize specific examples, case studies, or statistical data to support your points, ensuring that your argument is grounded in factual information. This section should be structured to provide a comprehensive and balanced exploration of the topic.

Addressing Solutions and Reforms

In this part of your essay, focus on the potential solutions and reforms aimed at reducing instances of police brutality. Discuss various proposals such as increased accountability measures, police training reforms, community policing strategies, and systemic changes in law enforcement agencies. Analyze the effectiveness of these solutions, drawing on examples from different jurisdictions where reforms have been attempted or implemented. Consider the challenges and barriers to implementing these changes, including political, institutional, and social factors. This segment should highlight the complexity of solving the issue of police brutality and the need for multifaceted approaches.

Concluding Thoughts on Police Brutality

Conclude your essay by summarizing the main points discussed, and reflect on the broader implications of police brutality on society and the justice system. This is an opportunity to reiterate the importance of addressing this issue and to encourage ongoing dialogue and action. Offer a perspective on the future of policing and community relations, considering the current trends and movements. A strong conclusion will not only wrap up the essay effectively but also leave the reader with a deeper understanding of the complexities of police brutality and the necessity for continued attention and effort in combating it.

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Hundreds of innocent lives are taken every year by law enforcement. Whether it is due to bad judgment on the police officers behalf, or intentional targeting due to internalized biases, there are lives being wrongfully taken far too often in our nation today. While people of all racial groups have fallen victim to police brutality, Black men and women are most susceptible to it and suffer from it more than any other group. On average black men are 9 times more likely to be shot by law enforcement than white men (Swaine). The issue with the recurring cases we see regarding police shootings or police harassment is the fact that the officers who abuse their authority don’t always get the punishment they deserve. Misbehaving cops are often spared punishment by colleagues and bosses who cover for them in order to keep them around. There is much controversy regarding how to punish these officers due to the fact that it is difficult to determine whether their actions were justified or not. Even if the victims were proven innocent, courts may still rule the actions of the officers as justified. These circumstances in which officers aren’t held responsible for murdering or severely harming black folks is the reason police brutality is still a serious issue in our society. If a police officer takes an innocent life, they should be immediately removed from the police force and should face further punishment, because if not, law enforcement will continue to abuse their power.

This issue is quite complicated in the way that everyone has a different opinion about whether police officers should be fired for making the mistake of harming an innocent person. Some could argue that not all men and women should be fired from their job because some officers have legitimate reasoning for shooting an unarmed person. They could object my claim by saying not all police officers deserve to lose their job just because they had bad judgment and made a one time mistake. Instead, the option that is proposed on this side of the argument is that these officers should only be suspended and if it happens again, then they should be fired. The issue with this option is that there is the possibility of a second time, the possibility that another innocent life could be taken. While I agree that it isn’t fair to say that every officer who is fired deserves it, or that for the reinstatement of all cops represents the failure of justice, I think killing or severely harming an innocent civilian cause for the removal of the police officer regardless of the circumstances. If we let officers get away with such actions then we cannot expect any progress to be made. For those in law enforcement who want to or do abuse their power, they may begin to believe that they can do so without suffering the consequences because others have gotten away with it in the past.

In an essay written by Assata Shakur, she tells the story of how she was wrongfully accused of murdering Zayd Malik Shakur and state trooper Werner Forester after a traffic stop that went terribly wrong on May 2, 1973. Shakur stated that Trooper Harper claimed he had initially pulled them over due to faulty tail light, yet It became clear that Harper had a racial bias against Black people and that Shakur and her friends were innocent targeted and harassed because of it. Harper claimed he became “suspicious” of their behavior and the resulted in the shooting and killing of Malik. To respond to the events that took place that night, Shakur stated: “The truth is that there was a major cover-up as to what happened on May 2, 1973” (Shakur 65). She continued to explain the ways in which Harper lied in court and to the authorities about who had really shot officer Forester and Malik. This quote is important because it shows the ways in which white police officers whom unlawfully use their power to get away with murder. Since Shakur was a black woman, her side of the story didn’t have much an impact even though she had strong evidence supporting her defense. This story is an example as to how law enforcement holds so much power over minority groups. Harper had lied to cover himself and the court system ruled in his favor because he was a powerful white man. Circumstances like these prove that we cannot excuse officers actions just because they claim they had justified the reasoning for killing an innocent human being. Sure there are instances that are real accidents, but any one of these officers could lie about their true intentions and that is another reason we must hold every officer accountable.

Similarly to Shakur’s experience, there are thousands of African American citizens around the nation today that are still dealing with police brutality and the reality that many guilty officers often get off with little to no punishment. Organizations such as the Black Lives Matter movement continue to fight against police brutality through protest, marches, and sometimes even riots. The group strives to prevent and stop the violence that is inflicted on the black communities by the state and others who unrightfully intervene. In a statement written by the creator of this group, Alicia Garza, she discusses the ways in which the Ferguson case had triggered the momentum within the Black Lives Matter movement. The death of Mike Brown by the hands of police officer Darren Wilson lead to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement that we know of today. Garza stated that “People were hungry to galvanize their communities to end state-sanctioned violence against Black people, the way Ferguson organizers and allies were doing” (Garza). This statement shows that the BLM group used what happened after the death of Michael Brown and brought the anger and passion that they had within the protests back home. Rather than peaceful, non-violent protesting that black rights activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. practiced in the past, they used the tactics of rioting to gain the attention of the masses. This form of protesting shows how black communities have been pushed to their breaking point due to the oppression they face from the authorities.

Currently, within our society and particularly the media, Black Lives Matter has been given a bad reputation due to the riots that have occurred around the nation. While not all members of BLM agree with the behavior of those involved in the riots, there are a lot of people within the movement that uses violence as a way to point out the injustice black communities face. Members of this group use their anger to damage property and even enforce more violence upon police officers, and this just leads to more bloodshed. In an article written by Joy James in 2015, titled “Moving Targets”, she examines how authority figures within the justice system respond to the riots and violent protesting that have happened more recently by groups such as Black Lives Matter. She stated, “Even as police continued to violate black communities, Attorney General Lynch instructed ‘the Baltimore community’ to adhere to nonviolence” (James). This statement is significant because it shows how someone with so much power within our country responds to cases of police brutality. It touches how police aggression is seen as necessary by many law enforcement officials in our current society and it is often protected by our government. We see this through Lynch’s decision to defend the oppressors rather than the oppressed. Lynch suggests that the solution to this issue is to have activists protest peacefully without violence, instead of holding the police officers who are abusing their power within black communities accountable. This U.S. Attorney General neglects to understand that when groups of Black men and women feel they have to resort to violence in order for change, this shows how big of an issue this really is. If police officers were forced to face the consequences of killing an innocent black person, such as losing their job, and there was justice for those who were killed by law enforcement, groups such as Black Lives Matter wouldn’t feel the need to react with violence.

The loss of a job does not compare to the loss of life. We must prioritize the safety of Black lives and the public over the protection of law enforcement labor rights. If we let these police officers who abuse their authority keep their jobs or merely just temporarily make them pay for their mistakes, we cannot expect police brutality to end. All over the nation, police unions are helping many of these cops to get their jobs back, often through secretive appeals. But we cannot keep reinstating these guilty officers or keeping them employed because we are essentially risking the lives of those belonging to minority groups by doing so. We must stop worrying about the status of these law enforcement officials, and rather we should be focusing on the ways in which we can end police brutality against Blacks within America by any means possible. I believe the first step our country must take to put an end to police brutality starts with Law enforcement officials immediately removing guilty officers from the police force. Because if they don’t, officers will continue to abuse their power and innocent lives within black communities will continuously be at stake.

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Police are raiding a Wildberries warehouse in the Moscow region's Elektrostal, media reports

Police are raiding a Wildberries warehouse in the Moscow region's Elektrostal, media reports say.

The security forces are looking for those who work in Russia without the necessary documents. There are detainees.

Subscribe to @ntvnews

"If suddenly there really is evidence that one of the officials of Ukraine is involved in this, goodbye immediately and immediately the military and political support of the West."

A political scientist in the studio of the " Meeting Place " explained the US reaction to the terrorist attack in Moscow and the threat to Ukraine in case of evidence of its involvement.

police brutality solutions essay

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police brutality solutions essay

Putin rounds up illegal migrants to send to the frontline in Ukraine as Vladimir exploits Moscow massacre anti-migrant backlash to find more cannon fodder

  • Vladimir Putin yesterday spoke on bringing 'sphere of migration under control'
  • Follows multiple arrests of Tajik nationals over Crocus Concert Hall terror attack 

By James Reynolds

Published: 11:48 EDT, 27 March 2024 | Updated: 21:50 EDT, 27 March 2024

View comments

Vladimir Putin is rounding up illegal migrants in Russia  to fuel his bloody invasion of Ukraine, just days after four Tajik nationals were charged over the Crocus terror attack in Moscow, with migrant groups left fearing bloody retaliation.

Paddy wagons sporting the National Guard insignia arrived at a vast online shopping warehouse in Elektrostal, Moscow today, where thousands of migrant workers were reportedly forced to show their documents.

Checks were carried out by armed and masked Russian guards and military enlistment officers, before at least 40 people were hauled away from the Wildberries warehouse.

More operations in kind are said to be planned, as Putin seeks more cannon fodder for his ongoing war in Ukraine.

It comes just days after the Crocus City Hall atrocity, which led to the deaths of at least 140 people after gunmen stormed a packed concert venue in the capital and indiscriminately targeted civilians before setting the building on fire.

A number of men from Tajikistan have since been detained in connection to the attacks, which have been claimed by jihadist group Islamic State. 

Friday's horror attack has been linked to a rise in tensions, with the BBC today reporting an increase in beatings and racism aimed at Central Asian migrants - and the embassy of Tajikistan in Russia warning citizens not to leave their homes unless necessary. 

Vehicles emblazoned with Rosgvardiya (Rosguard, the National Police) were seen outside the warehouse in Moscow as officials rounded up illegal migrants, some destined for Ukraine

Vehicles emblazoned with Rosgvardiya (Rosguard, the National Police) were seen outside the warehouse in Moscow as officials rounded up illegal migrants, some destined for Ukraine

Critics fear the atrocity in Moscow last week is already leading to discriminatory behaviour towards migrants living in Russia

Critics fear the atrocity in Moscow last week is already leading to discriminatory behaviour towards migrants living in Russia

Some of the migrants detained today will reportedly face the choice of jail or expulsion - or fighting in Ukraine for Russia.

Migrants who have been granted Russian citizenship also express fears they may be called up.

'They check who is on the side of the military, and who is evading,' one said. 'Those who evade can be taken away against their will.'

'Whoever resists is beaten with sticks by the riot police,' said another worker.

A further 38 employees of the warehouse will undergo additional checks with law enforcement to 'clarify' information gathered already, the Wildberries company told state-owned news agency RIA.

It came a day after Putin spoke on the urgency of bringing the 'migration sphere ... under control' at a meeting with the board of the Prosecutor General's Office, RIA noted.

Putin reportedly ordered that measures be handled 'professionally and competently' to 'facilitate the adoption of legal, informed and fair decisions'.

Still, critics fear the atrocity in Moscow last week is already leading to discriminatory behaviour towards migrants living in Russia.

In Novgorod region, it has been prohibited to hire foreign workers in the transport sector.

State Duma deputy Dmitry Gusev has also called for a complete 'audit' of all labour migrants living in the country - as well as those who have recently received Russian citizenship.

In Moscow, a 29-year-old woman from Yakutia was surrounded by a hostile mob on the metro and subjected to vile racist abuse. 

'Get the **** out of here,' she was told - even though she is a Russian citizen.

'Russia for Russians, Moscow for Muscovites!

'Africa for blacks, cesspit for Caucasians! Hail Tesak!'

Russian President Vladimir Putin grimaces during an annual expanded Prosecutor General's Office meeting, March 26,2024, in Moscow, Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin grimaces during an annual expanded Prosecutor General's Office meeting, March 26,2024, in Moscow, Russia

Checks were carried out by armed and masked Russian guards and military enlistment officers, before at least 40 people were hauled away from the Wildberries warehouse

Checks were carried out by armed and masked Russian guards and military enlistment officers, before at least 40 people were hauled away from the Wildberries warehouse

Critics fear the atrocity in Moscow last week is already leading to discriminatory behaviour towards migrants living in Russia

The group reportedly ally with neo-Nazi Maxim Martsinkevich, nicknamed Tesak, meaning Machete, who died from 'asphyxia' in a Russian jail in 2020.

The scared woman said: 'It was 6.30 pm. I was waiting for the train… Very young guys…came up to me.

Putin says Moscow concert gunman were 'radical Islamists' but refuses to say they were from ISIS - as he insists the terrorists had been trying to 'flee to Ukraine'  

police brutality solutions essay

'One of them, the most active one, took a metal bat out of his jacket and showed me.

'They surrounded me and began to humiliate me… They called me names from the platform based on my nationality and appearance.'

She said no-one came to her aid.

Two of those threatening her were detained today and face questioning.

On Telegram, migrants from Tajikistan have shared messages expressing fears the community in Russia will suffer for the Crocus attack, as reported by the BBC.

Sharing their concern over retributive attacks, one said: 'Please, God, let [the attackers] be Ukrainian instead.'

Russia's Federal Security Service, or the FSB, said it had arrested 11 people the day after the attack, including four suspected gunmen.

Moscow's Basmanny District Court identified the four suspects behind the attack as Dalerdzhon Mirzoyev, 32; Saidakrami Rachabalizoda, 30; Shamsidin Fariduni, 25; and Mukhammadsobir Faizov, 19. 

The four men, identified as Tajik nationals, appeared in a Moscow court on Sunday on terrorism charges and showed signs of severe beatings.

One appeared to be barely conscious during the hearing.

The men were charged with committing a group terrorist attack resulting in the death of others. The offence carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

They were all ordered to be held in pre-trial custody until May 22.

Mirzoyev and Rachabalizoda admitted guilt after being charged, according to AP, citing court officials.

A view of the burned Crocus City Hall concert venue following a terrorist attack, March 25

A view of the burned Crocus City Hall concert venue following a terrorist attack, March 25

So far, 140 people have died and the death toll is expected to rise

So far, 140 people have died and the death toll is expected to rise

Saidakrami Rachabalizoda

The terrorists who carried out the attack have all been detained and charged with terrorism

Shamsidin Fariduni

All four of them have been beaten and tortured by Russian security forces

While Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, President Vladimir Putin has said the four men were arrested while trying to flee to Ukraine.

Kyiv denies any connection to the attack.

READ MORE:  Blundering Belarus dictator Lukashenko destroys Putin's evidence that Zelensky was behind ISIS attack by revealing the terrorists first tried to flee to HIS country, not Ukraine 

police brutality solutions essay

Putin has made no reference to ISIS' claims.

US intelligence also said after the attack it had information confirming ISIS was responsible for the attack.

Yesterday, head of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov bizarrely pinned blame on the United States, Britain and Ukraine.

Speaking after the meeting with the board of the Prosecutor General's Office, he was asked whether the US, Britain and Ukraine were behind the terrorist attack, according to Russian news agency TASS .

'We believe that this is true. In any case, we are now talking about the factual information we have. This is general information, but they have a long record of this sort.'

'What is [Ukraine] expected to do to demonstrate its capability? It is expected to carry out sabotage and terrorist acts in the rear,' he continued.

'This is what both the chiefs of Ukraine's special services and the British special services are aiming at. US special services have repeatedly mentioned this, too.'

The Crocus Concert Hall was attacked by armed gunmen on March 22, when terrorists opened fire on civilians and set the auditorium on fire in Russia's deadliest attack in 20 years.

According to the latest data, 140 people have been confirmed dead as a result of the attack, the most recent dying in hospital today.

A total of 80 people injured in the attack remain hospitalized, the official added, and 205 others have sought outpatient medical assistance.

The Moscow Times reported today as many as 360 had been injured in the attack.

Three days before the attack, Putin denounced the U.S. Embassy's March 7 notice urging Americans to avoid crowds in Moscow , including concerts, calling it an attempt to frighten Russians and 'blackmail' the Kremlin ahead of the presidential election.

After Britain echoed the notice, Kremlin mouthpieces accused both of 'complicity' if terrorists did hit Moscow.

A view shows the burning Crocus City Hall concert hall following the shooting incident in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, on March 22, 2024

A view shows the burning Crocus City Hall concert hall following the shooting incident in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, on March 22, 2024


ISIS' news agency Amaq released sickening a 90-second selfie video of the attack that is too graphic for MailOnline to share

The news of a terror warning on March 7 came only hours after the FSB claimed to have thwarted an ISIS plot to slaughter Jews in a Moscow synagogue.

It was unclear whether the events are linked.

According to the FSB, a large cache of weapons and bomb parts were found during a raid on an Islamic State cell in Kaluga, southwest of the capital.

Russian state media reported militants had been gearing up to shoot Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in the capital before security officials stormed the premises and gunned them down.

'While being arrested, the terrorists put up armed resistance to the Russian FSB officers, and as a result were neutralised by return fire,' the Russian state-owned TASS news agency quoted the security service as saying in a statement.

  • Moscow attack: Central Asian migrants hit by backlash in Russia - BBC News
  • www.gazeta.ru/au...
  • Number of Wounded in Crocus City Hall Attack Rises to 360 - The Moscow Times
  • tass.com/emergen...

Share or comment on this article: Putin rounds up illegal migrants to send to the frontline in Ukraine as Vladimir exploits Moscow massacre anti-migrant backlash to find more cannon fodder

police brutality solutions essay

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police brutality solutions essay

In Russia, armed men seized an oil field with shooting: what is happening (video)


Highlights: In the Irkutsk region of the Russian Federation, armed men seized the town of oil workers, frightened people with shots up and were expelled from the barracks. The incident is explained by an "active change of control" over an asset belonging to the arrested ex-owner of the bank Yugra, Alexei Khotin. The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs said that they are aware of what is happening in the oil town, but their employees do not participate in the events. Earlier, in the Russian city of Elektrostal (Moscow region), during demonstration performances, soldiers began to shoot at spectators with children from machine guns with blank cartridges.

police brutality solutions essay

In the Irkutsk region of the Russian Federation, armed men seized the town of oil workers, frightened people with shots up and were expelled from the barracks. See and read the details ᐅ 1+1 news

In the Irkutsk region of the Russian Federation, two dozen armed men in camouflage uniforms landed from helicopters on the territory of the Dulisma oil workers' camp.

The corresponding video is published in Telegram channels.

As can be seen in the published footage, people in civilian clothes were taken out of the barracks, lined up against the wall with their hands raised behind their heads, and some were forced to lie down with their faces to the ground. During the raid, shots were fired upwards and obscene language.

The incident is explained by an "active change of control" over an asset belonging to the arrested ex-owner of the Russian bank Yugra, Alexei Khotin. He is accused of embezzlement of funds, since 98% (about 240 billion rubles) of all loans issued by the bank were used to finance the business of its owner in the field of real estate and oil production. Since April 2019, Khotin has been under house arrest.

People with weapons are called both representatives of private security firms and fighters of the SOBR unit, which is part of the Russian Guard.

However, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, in a comment to the Podyem Telegram channel, said that they are aware of what is happening in the oil town, but their employees do not participate in the events. "It was not our department that was involved in the raid," they said.

Earlier, in the Russian city of Elektrostal (Moscow region), during demonstration performances, soldiers of the Russian Guard began to shoot at spectators with children from machine guns with blank cartridges.

Source: tsn

All news articles on 2023-09-17

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    Police are raiding a Wildberries warehouse in the Moscow region's Elektrostal, media reports say. The security forces are looking for those who work in Russia without the necessary documents. There are detainees. Subscribe to @ntvnews


    Find company research, competitor information, contact details & financial data for BETA GIDA, OOO of Elektrostal, Moscow region. Get the latest business insights from Dun & Bradstreet.

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