By Renee Martin
Police brutality has been headlining the news recently which has raised the question of whether the police force around the country is beneficial to the citizens or not. Videos of violent beatings of unarmed and seemingly cooperative citizens have been circling the internet lately usually filmed with personal camera phones.
Over and over there have been reports of police officers who have either overstepped their boundaries or completely disregarded the codes and conducts of being a police officer and protecting citizens.
Take the incident of Floyd Dent, a 57 year old black man, who was pulled over, beaten, and tazed three times by two white police officers in Michigan. Video of the incident shows Dent complying and in no way resisting arrest. In court, the judge dismissed charges of assault and resisting arrest after watching the video, but the police also charged Dent with possession of cocaine. Dent claimed that the drugs were planted. He tested negative for the drug test and passed the lie detector test. Dent also has no criminal record.
The police officer who beat Dent, William Melendez, has been sued at least four times for using excessive force and has cost the city over $1 million in settlements. Melendez has been accused of planting drugs and falsifying evidence multiple times before but has never been convicted.
This incident is just one of many where police officers have used excessive force and have falsified evidence. Does a minor traffic violation call for such excessive force? The answer is simply no.
According to Lieutenant Dan Marcou from an article on PoliceOne.com, officers are encouraged to do something called a “compliance hold” if a person pulls away from an officer or tells them to not touch them. Compliance holds are joint locking, painful ways to subdue or control a person who is passively resisting arrest. However, these compliance holds don’t always work. Once the person resists the compliance hold the officer is allowed to punch, kick, pepper spray, or use a Taser on the person. Dozens of incidents caught on camera have shown how these police and citizens encounters have escalated from a traffic stop to a court case.
A press release from the FBI says, “76 law enforcement officers were killed in line-of-duty incidents in 2013. Of these, 27 law enforcement officers died as a result of felonious acts, and 49 officers died in accidents.”
Too bad it isn’t that easy to find a number of how many citizens have been killed by police officers–national databases report only one-fourth of the actual number of people killed by police.
According to The Washington Post, “Officials with the Justice Department keep no comprehensive database or record of police shootings, instead allowing the nation’s more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies to self-report officer-involved shootings as part of the FBI’s annual data on ‘justifiable homicides’ by law enforcement.”
Police brutality is becoming a glaringly obvious problem in our country today with numerous citizens not getting justice for the crimes that have been committed against them by police officers. Simply being a police officer does not give a go-ahead to shoot or injure citizens. If police officers only used force when completely necessary then the police would be trusted more and there wouldn’t be the amount of civil unrest there is right now.