Are they here to protect us, or oppress us? This is one of the first questions that comes to mind for most people when they think of the police force. We constantly hear about or see accounts of police misconduct. Most of the time through the media we view real encounters or the subject pops up in a conversation.
As a whole, the majority of the population knows of or probably has been a victim of police misconduct. Only a few actually know how to go about reducing the chances of these unlawful actions being made. What is police misconduct exactly? And how can we combat this injustice?
Police misconduct refers to ill-appropriated conduct and/or illegal actions taken by police officers in connection with their official duties. This can range from an officer using their siren to run a red light, to an officer shooting an unarmed civilian without proper provocation. Situations like these put both civilians, and the officer involved in unwanted danger. In order to put forth an effort to stop these dangerous situations, we must first look at some of the root causes of misconduct in the police force.
One may guess that a policeman’s individual display of misconduct means that they weren’t properly trained in the first place. Policemen go through training meant to instruct them on how to de-escalate stressful situations but there’s more to it.
According to the National Institute of Justice, There is no single, universally agreed-upon definition of use of force. This means that it’s up to the officers themselves to determine how much force is appropriate for a certain situation. Once an officer is in the field, there is nothing stopping them from using an excessive amount of force.
When you add the individual policeman’s point of view and morals into the equation, the situation can escalate very quickly. On top of that, Our officers of the law are not being adequately punished for their excessive use of force.
A Bureau of Justice Statistics analysis of national data on citizen complaints, about the use of force found that in departments with 100 or more officers , the complaint rate for police use of force was 6.6 complaints per 100 sworn officers. Out of these complaints, 8 percent had sufficient evidence to take disciplinary action against the officer.
If our law enforcement is basically allowed to behave however they please, how can we trust them to ensure our safety? We can’t. That’s why something must be done to change the current state of the police force.
Now we have to ask ourselves: What steps can be taken to prevent misconduct and brutality?
Policemen must be given stricter punishments for stepping out of line. An officer should not be able to harm a civilian that isn’t a threat, then to be put on leave, and then return to the field.
This is unacceptable and unnecessarily puts innocent lives in danger. Police officers are civilians themselves. Therefore, they should not be above the law. That, along with a stricter guideline for use of force, would help to prevent any undesirable outcomes to interactions between policemen and civilians.
Our law enforcement’s main purpose is to protect and serve, but oftentimes it seems as though they’re only here to bring us down.
By introducing stricter guidelines for course of action and more appropriate punishments for misconduct, we can slowly but surely change the condition of the police force into something closer to it’s desired image. We deserve protectors of the law. Not the brutish enforcers that are present today.