There is substantial evidence to suggest that policing is harder on black men for everything. So then, how do you police the police? The police is trusted by all of society to protect and serve its people. Yet, police officers themselves report insufficient accountability for misconduct. Police brutality is a racial issue because it more often negatively impacts people of color. Although, the opposition may argue that police have the right to defend themselves, the NYPD is supposed to protect all New Yorkers equally. There have been a lot of incidents where people of color have been racially profiled and mistreated. About 27% of all police officers acknowledge a flaw in the system and describe the actions taken upon police conduct as not nearly enough. This is evident in the Eric Garner case, where the grand jury returned a verdict of no indictment in 2014. However, the case has elicited numerous mass protests as well as a different view of the police department which has had the public questioning its effectiveness and whether or not it serves its purpose. In my map I will be pinning places in which police brutality incidents have occurred throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City.
Prior to the Eric Garner case, stop and frisk was issued to reduce gun violence, although it made no significant difference. In fact, the number of young black males stopped in 2011 due to stop and frisk exceeded the actual number of young black males. Moreover, 90% of them were innocent. This could indicate an ingrained prejudice in the criminal justice system and terminating it would require a thorough evaluation of it.
The method used by Officer Daniel Pantaleo after Eric Garner, the victim in question resisted arrest was the chokehold. He did this without any illicit motive, performing an aggressive arrest which was not needed. Force is to be used under exceptional circumstances. Officers are trained to use the least amount of force. Why use violence on Eric Garner, after the man continuously simply asked the officers to leave him alone? They were supposedly going to arrest him because he was accused of selling loose cigarettes, yet there is no indication in the video of the incident between the police officers and the accused man that he was doing so. What grounds of suspicion were the officers acting on? Most importantly, why after the man repeatedly said he could not breathe, did the officers continue to shove him into the ground compressing his airway? This is a classic example of police brutality and an abuse of power. Backup was coming, as in the video sirens could be heard in the background. The man was not threatening the officers, neither did he have a weapon or did they suspect that he did.
It is apparent how cruel the system is in its treatment of civilians . The dehumanization of subjected groups occurs through an ingrained racism in legislation made by those in power. The group of people which work to protect the well-being of all citizens actually demean them and instill fear in communities which should be turning to them for help. They are looked at and treated like animals. The importance of injustice within the criminal justice system is evident in the duration of its existence and its prevalence in society today. This type of injustice has not only happened to black people. Numerous groups have been targeted by the white supremacist society due to their differences and their threats to the system’s structure. The strange thing is that almost half of the country does not hear about these killings either because of the police patching it up or something even worse, the media does not report it. Something that we are “supposed” to believe we look at the media to stay informed of what happens in our country but even that is corrupted in today’s time. The problem is not just police officers alone; the problem is industrialized racism. Nonetheless, the use of force exists and is abused to the extent in which it passes racial, economic, and social borders. It intermingles between the three and the severity of it or how frequent it may be varies upon the civilian’s position, as well as the position of the police officer they may encounter. In Whibey’s research, statistical evidence shows use of force distributed amongst several different racial groups, concluding that African American and Latino males are more likely to receive harsher treatment:
The federal Justice Department releases statistics on this and related issues.. It found that in 2015, among the 53.5 million U.S. residents aged 16 or older who had any contact with police, 985,300 of them — 1.8 percent — experienced threats or use of force. Law enforcement officials were more likely to threaten or use force on black people and Hispanics than white people, according to an October 2018 report. “When police initiated the contact, blacks (5.2 percent) and Hispanics (5.1 percent) were more likely to experience the threat or use of physical force than whites (2.4 percent), and males (4.4 percent) were more likely to experience the threat or use of physical force than females (1.8 percent).” Of those who experienced a threat or use of force, 84 percent considered it to be excessive. (Wihbey)
Although 1.8 percent may seem a relatively small number, this number has statistical meaning and signifies an issue in the way the system operates. Eighty-four percent of those experienced a threat or use of force considered it to be excessive, depicting the severity which most officers handle situations with. The job of the police should be to make them feel safer rather than make them afraid of the same people who work to serve them and their safety. This indicates that a change in regulations needs to be made, where different tactics are enforced so that all officers know how to act in situations with minorities so that they may not feel threatened.
As a police officer, there are several tactics taught to one in training to subdue an unwilling person, commencing with the voice to establish power. A chokehold should have immediately been removed from question because of the danger it presents to the individual; “More specifically, the Chokehold represents how American institutions and “social practices”treat all African American men as would-be criminals to be “contained” by the state … The Chokehold produces a world in which all Black men are presumptively viewed as threatening; none of them gets a pass; not even children” (Butler). According to Butler’s book, the chokehold becomes a metaphor that elicits fear within the black community. The goal of a police officer should always be to complete a successful arrest, without hurting the individual’s life. Other alternatives to strengthen and reinforce the system’s reliability, would be to hold more officers accountable for their actions. There should be more action taken when an officer or any person working for law enforcement is accused of anything or takes part in any alleged crime. It is imperative to realize that although extremely difficult to imagine a crooked system, it is highly evident that it does exist, and with individuals who repeatedly threaten innocent civilians, whether it be based on race, gender, or any other prejudicial circumstances, it is best to strip them of their titles or more fatalities will occur.
Courts are often perceived as an important venue to hold police accountable for fatal use of force with criminal prosecutions. However, as the events surrounding the death of Eric Garner showed, prosecutions of officers accused of committing crimes involved in their duties are extremely rare. But low rates of prosecution and conviction do not apply when applied to other offenses committed by officers, as this section outlines. We set out to explore why prosecutions, and convictions, are so rare. (Congress)
This study found that jurors usually tend to empathize with the police officers themselves rather than the victims of an alleged crime. This is because they consider that these officers take on life-threatening cases and are exposed to crime, violence, and danger daily. They deem these decisions as last minute life-or-death, in which an officer under immense pressure may not make the morally right, or best, decision. In the case of Pantaleo, this could have also affected the grand jury’s indictment. Pantaleo was a serving officer for seven years at the time of the incident, which may have altered the jury’s decision. They could have interpreted the length of his service as important to the justice as far more important than one occurence where he may have felt under pressure. Yet, the public most certainly understood the dramatic effects of the abusive force used by Pantaleo.
While police use of deadly force is a rare occurrence, its impact can be felt throughout the community and undermines public confidence in the police. Aside from the ethical and moral ramifications of taking another’s life, or leaving them perhaps permanently disabled, a police officer also faces the prospect of being held criminally liable if deadly force was improperly employed. People in today’s litigious society will frequently challenge the officer’s decision to use deadly force in a civil court as well. For all of these reasons, it is absolutely imperative that officers thoroughly understand their responsibilities, rights, and limitations regarding the use of deadly force. (Congress)
Once again, the education of all officers is imperative so that they may understand the complexity of the use of force. This will strengthen the system as well as the public’s belief in its system. With understanding comes practice, and practice yields better results. Once officers understand the complexity of the use of force, they will try to minimize it as much as possible and will always second-guess their actions, even in conflicting cases where they may be emotionally disturbed. Understanding consequences of impeding another individual’s right to live under absurd circumstances will also restrict officers from being overly aggressive, if they know they will be held accountable for not using the suggested methods.
The case of Mr. Eric Garner manifests the reality of the criminal justice system we possess now. It raises numerous questions, all which must be thoroughly examined in order to extract a conclusion that would be effective and non-biased. Even so, the use of force can immediately be diminished, by training more officers efficiently and implementing new regulations that all officers must follow. The grand jury assigned to cases regarding violations of another individual’s rights by a police officer should not be overlooked. Officers should be placed on immediate suspension after tragedies like Garner’s occur. This way, the families would not feel as if the system is not aiding them or investigating and taking into careful consideration every iota to a case like this. Different solutions should be taught to all officers who face difficult predicaments with subjects who are unwilling to cooperate. These tactics should involve the least amount of force, to avoid any casual tragedies.
The picture above, illustrating Eric Garner’s last words “I can’t breathe” symbolize how the system as a whole places its citizens in a chokehold. The discrimination and excessive use of force projected unto civilians is enough to suffocate a nation as a whole. It exposes the blemishes in the criminal justice system, along with the video which simply enforces that. Every day, bystanders are subjected to witness the tragic effects of police brutality and a system which cannot seem to be undone.
Butler, P. (2018). Chokehold: policing Black men. New York: New Press
Butler’s book relates the method used by Daniel Pantaleo, the chokehold, as a metaphor that signifies the daily struggles of an American individual in our society. He explains how it instills fear in minority groups and subjects them to irreversible guilt in the eyes of the system. This is a perfect example of how police brutality undertakes several lens in any individual’s life.
Congress, N. J. (2003, October 3). Principles of Good Policing: Avoiding Violence Between Police and Citizens. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/archive/crs/pubs/principlesofgoodpolicingfinal092003.htm.
The task force suggests that police departments clearly and publicly state values as well as proper procedures that should be followed in any given situation.. In addition, it indicates that a public knowledge of the enforcement of these regulations will minimize violence between police officers and individuals. They predict this will ensure a feeling of safety and security within the public. In my opinion, rules and regulations in regards to the use of force should definitely be made as specific and clear as possible to avoid more cases that involve police brutality.
Wihbey, J. (2018, December 21). Excessive or reasonable force by police? Research on law enforcement and racial conflict. Retrieved from https://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/police-reasonable-force-brutality-race-research-review-statistics/.
The article retrieved touches thoroughly upon the background of the use of force and its effects on groups of people in society. It reveals how anxious the people are and untrusting they have become towards the justice system. With belief that little to nothing is being done to help individuals of a group, the justice system’s reliability decreases and weakens at a plummeting rate. This is exactly the data that is needed to inform all people of the injustice that is occurring and suggest alternatives to the police system’s policies.