Police abuse/defficicency/racial profiling

By: Will Hedley

Police abuse

In our country right now there are many hot button civil rights issues, real or perceived threats to people's personal liberties guaranteed by law. One group that is absolutely under fire right now is the police. Police departments across the country are experiencing many problems including things such as police deficiency, abuse of power, and racial profiling. The police that are protecting the citizens of America are not properly equipped, do not have enough personnel, and are not fully trained. (Trône) There are also the issues of abuse of power and racial profiling which people feel strongly about one way or another. A recent study by a University of California, Davis professor found “evidence of a significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans, in that the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average.”(Vanity Fair) Clearly, police misconduct and abuse of power have fueled many civil rights controversies, and many Americans now believe that one’s race significantly impacts one’s experience with police.

Rate of law enforcement killings, per million population per year, 1999-2011

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics

people protesting for more rights

In the 1960’s people fought for equal rights because people weren’t considered equal with respect to their race back then. At that time and even today, blacks are considered, rightly or wrongly, more likely to commit a crime, and this perspective is considered racial profiling. Law enforcement departments continue to use racial profiling today. For example, in investigations of terrorist bombings, many people believe racial profiling is an acceptable tactic. Some law enforcement personnel assume guilt by the nature of someone’s name, claiming that the people who commit terrorism, “their names were not Sven and Thor or Juan and Jesus. They have names like Mohammed Salameh, Nidal Ayyad, Ahmad Mahommed Ajaj, Mahmoud Abouhalima, Abdul Rahman Yasin, Ramzi Yousef, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, Ibrahim El Gabrowny and Eyad Ismoil.”(Procon) Another unfortunate similarity between the time of the Civil Rights Movement and now, is that police do not know how to use appropriate levels of force. Regrettably, America’s history contains many examples of police misconduct and brutality. On “Bloody Sunday” in January 1972, for example, police purposefully sat outside a church filled with black people, and when the parishioners came outside they were beaten; eventually one person was even shot to death. Another incident of police abuse of force occurred in 1954 when the National Guard of Arkansas stopped nine black students from entering the all-white Central High School after the Supreme Court ruled against schools being segregated.(Video) Unfortunately, many law enforcement personnel are using force in inappropriate and even illegal ways. More recently, an incident occurred where the police were called because a student would not leave school because she was caught with her phone. When the police arrived, they used excessive force by beating and tasing the girl to make her leave.(Opposing Viewpoints) Another example of police brutality occurred in Chicago in October of 2014 when Laquan McDonald, a 17 year-old black man, was fatally shot multiple times as he walked away from police. Ultimately, seven police officers were fired for lying about the incident. Clearly, law enforcement during the era of the Civil Rights movement as well as today have behaved similarly as both have abused force and used racial profiling in their policing efforts.

While some police do abuse force, it is important to point out that most try to help these days. This is very different from the situation in 1960 as, fortunately, progress has been made. For example, when a police officer pulled over to help a black woman who was struggling to replace a flat tire, that is exactly what they did. (BBC) The situation today, however, is very different from the 1960’s because back then many law enforcement personnel actually belonged to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a group whose purpose was to terrorize blacks. During the Civil Rights movement, one of the KKK’s first orders was to infiltrate police departments, “because the laws don’t apply to them if they are the law,” according to Larissa Moore, a law professor at Syracuse University who performed an investigation of unsolved civil rights murders from 1946 to 1969. (Alternet.org) Fortunately, law enforcement back then and police now are different in many important ways. Today, police departments try to screen out these biases as much as they can. Unfortunately, however, media often portrays many of these situations as worse than they are. On the news, most people see examples of problematic police behavior. In reality, such behavior makes up less than one percent of the level of crime that actually occurs. One Army National Guard member, who made a video about the good that cops do, stated, “"I wanted to put something positive out there - not all cops are bad."(BBC) Clearly, police from the 1960’s are very different from police now in that they bring fewer racial biases to the job.

Police helping a women replace her flat tire

While Police abuse is not rampant today, it is still a major problem. Citizens can help by joining groups that advocate to reduce police misconduct and they can write to their representatives in Congress to shine a light on the issue. People can also join community groups that highlight the issue. Groups like 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement have done a lot to combat police brutality so people can work with the group as an intermediary to deal with community issues with the police. (newsone.com) In addition, people can join groups that set up protests. There are many anti-police brutality organizations that one can join, including Do Not Shoot Us, Campaign Zero, and We The Protestors. (blackgirllonghair.com) By joining groups that advocate against police brutality, writing to your Congressman to address these issues, voting out politicians who condone police brutality, and participating in peaceful protests, citizens can make a difference effectively without waging a war on the police whom we rely on daily to enforce law and order in our communities.


Phillips, Emma, and Jennifer Trone. "Civilian Oversight Promotes Impartial Investigation of Police Misconduct." Police Brutality, edited by Louise I. Gerdes, Greenhaven Press, 2004. Current Controversies. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010057255/OVIC?u=kenni67327&xid=cb7c5689. Accessed 22 Mar. 2017.

"Should Racial Profiling Be Accepted as a Law Enforcement Practice? - ACLU Pros & Cons - ProCon.org." Is the ACLU Good for America? ProCon, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

Makarechi, Kia. "What the Data Really Says About Police and Racial Bias." The Hive. Vanity Fair, 14 July 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

Justin Gardner / The Free Thought Project. "The KKK Has Infiltrated U.S. Police Departments for Decades." Alternet. N.p., 19 Dec. 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

"Five Ways To Fight Police Brutality." News One. N.p., 12 Oct. 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

Sweeney, Annie, Jeremy Gorner, and Dan Hinkel. "Top Cop Seeks to Fire 7 Officers for Lying about Laquan McDonald Shooting." Chicagotribune.com. N.p., 30 Aug. 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.








Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.