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Essay on Excessive Brutality by Police

Police Brutality – Is the USA Still a Land of Freedom?

Since the foundation of the United States of America, it has been known as a land of freedom or the Land of the Free. This implies it has always been a place where any individual could go and start a new life, a land where dreams could be realized, and a land where oppression would never have the upper hand because of its laws and its beliefs in freedom. It is a country that has extolled democracy, always declaring its governments would be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” In the last ten years, however, American citizens have experienced increased encroachment on their freedoms and an alarming growth in police brutality. A Global Research News article claims that 5,000 people were killed by United States police in the past decade while 4,489 US soldiers have been killed since the start of the Iraq war. This news is disturbing indeed. The data almost makes it appear as if war is happening right now on the USA’s own soil.  

Put simply, the term ‘police brutality’ is a reference to times when police use excessive force, which may take the form of verbal abuse, physical manhandling, or intimidation of the psychological type. It is not uncommon for police to use brutality. It is used in various forms in a number of different countries. Although it is deemed illegal in the majority of countries, its existence continues nevertheless, partly because this form of brutality can be carried out in the name of the law. A lot of police personnel who engage in brutality do not get punished because of government reluctance to agitate an organization that exists to help it retain power. Most governments would find it preferable to put up with groups such as Black Lives Matter (a relatively harmless movement) and similar groups than bring prosecutions against an arms-bearing group that is capable of ousting it.  

There are two main root causes that can be attributed to police brutality. Firstly, inadequate training can be blamed. A lot of violence-oriented officers are not well trained and are not prepared to deal with difficult situations. Steven Rosenfeld claimed in an article for Alternet.org that one of the problems is that police do not know how to “de-escalate” and that many do not effectively use “de-escalation techniques.” Instead, Rosenfeld claims that too frequently police escalate situations and use force where it might not be necessary and is possibly avoidable. Inadequate training causes actions among officers that often increase rather than reduce violence. There also exists a widely-held belief that the majority of police officers are trigger happy. This brings us to the next crucial cause, which is that the types of people attracted to police work are not the right type. When you consider this, it is not so strange. Who, after all, wants a job that may involve killing other people? Indeed, Forbes.com lists the police force as one of the top 10 job areas that psychopaths are attracted to. When this is added to inadequate training, it is little wonder we hear the grim news that is prevalent these days.  

However, do not despair because some degree of hope still exists. The USA remains after all the land of freedom and every citizen has the power to maintain that state. So, as a free US citizen, what action can you take to minimize excessive police force? In the first place, it is important to understand what rights you have. If citizens are well-informed, they will not be victimized so much by police personnel. If or when police confront you, know how to act. Do not become argumentative because this can cause tension and worsen the situation. You should always obey police orders and do not give officers reason to use force. Secondly, citizens can campaign for increased police budgets and training. Pressurize your local politicians to instigate reform. More money will generate higher levels of goodwill from the police and improved training will result in a better caliber of officers.

Finally, and equally importantly, be courteous and kind to police officers, even if they appear incompetent or engage in violence. Politeness and respect almost always creates goodwill, and a lot of this is needed on the part of police in the current climate.