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Cody Davis

Ms. Morton

English 111

7 October 2016

The Growing Problem of Police Brutality

As of today 884 people have died due to police related incidents (killedbypolice.net).

That means that someone was just taken away from their family that loved them. This means that

mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, and children who were loved are being taken away from their

families by the police who believe that they were acting within the proper guidelines and

standards of the job. Their lives were taken away by the police due to incidents that the police

should have been able to control with all their training and experience in the field. The police are

tearing families apart because of the injustice called police brutality. Understanding what police

brutality is and how it is affected people, we can potentially solve the problem of police brutality

in America.

Before talking about police brutality people need to understand the true meaning of

police brutality. Police brutality is defined as the use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by

police when dealing with civilians. Excessive force means force used beyond what is necessary

in a certain situation (Danilina). Basically in terms for people without law degrees, police

brutality is police officers using force when it is not necessary. Now, there is a very fine line that

has been addressed between what is and is not police brutality in certain situation. Knowing the

literal definition of police brutality will help you understand what police brutality is in certain

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Last year alone 1206 people died because of the police by guns, vehicles, restraints,

Tasers, chemicals, and other things (killedbypolice.net). Of those 1206 about 986 people died

due to police shootings only. This is a drastic increase in deaths from previous years with 96

more deaths than 2014 and 434 more deaths when compared with 2013. The Washington Post

has some statistics about how many people were shoot in 2015. From January 1st to the month of

May there have been a total of 385 police related shootings. Looking at the diagram between

genders there was 20 females and 365 males. When looking at a graph about the races of each

victim there was an equal amount of whites and minority deaths. But when looking at the

number of people who were unarmed there was a huge amount of the minority who fit in that

category, blacks were three times as likely to be killed than any other race.

Ever since the appearance of quality of life policing more people have been deemed as

criminals. The promise of the quality of life policing was to lower the crime rates which it did.

But in order to lower the crime rate it had to lower the standards of a crime. If I saw a homeless

person sleeping in an alleyway I would be tolerant and accept the fact that he/she was there and

would give them some money. Now, because of the appearance of this policy I can complain

about a homeless person and get him arrested. Doing this I have now create a new criminal,

whose only problem was that I was annoyed. The implemented policy has proven its

effectiveness through the reduction of crimes in urban areas. Though as the crime rates lowered

complaints of police brutality increased in urban areas. For example, New York City,

complaints rose 37% from 1993 to 1994, immediately after the introduction of the quality-of-life

program (Kontos quoted by Gary Pierre-Pierre).

And when the stop and frisk policy was in place more and more people were becoming

victims of police brutality. Santiago Hernandez was an unfortunate victim of stop and frisk in
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New York. Standing at the front of a building a couple police officers respond to a noise

complaint and approach him. They ask him to stand up and prepare to get ready to be searched

and he listened. After his search and the police officer ended up with nothing she put handcuff on

Mr. Hernandez. His account of the incident was Moments later, half-a-dozen officers arrived

and appeared to pile-on. Hernandez said he was punched, kicked, beaten with nightsticks, and

blasted with pepper spray (Burkett). He explains the encounter "They was (sic) taking turns on

me. One kicks me, he steps back. Another one comes to punch me and he steps back. And

another one comes and grabs my arm and hits me like 10 times with the baton. Another one

comes and pepper sprayed me, they were taking turns like a gang,"(Burkett quoted by


The first time police brutality was truly show to America was with African American

Rodney King. A Los Angeles taxi driver by the name of Rodney King, 25 years old at the time,

was involved in a high speed chase with the L.A.P.D. March 2, 1991. Once Mr. King was pulled

over he was taken out of his vehicle and tossed him to the ground. The four officers involved in

the chase started to beat on Mr. King as he was on the ground. Luckily a camera man was

walking by and caught this disturbingly violent action towards Mr. King. Because this camera

man videotaped this incident That videotape, when shared with a Los Angeles TV station, sent

shock waves around the world, catapulting police brutality and race relations in the United States

to center stage and turning King into a symbol of the bitter conflict(Taylor). This video brought

to light a dark side of the police officers that is never shown to the public. The officers Laurence

Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, and Stacey Koon were all charged with criminal

offenses due to the release of the video, but later acquitted of all charges. This caused riots to

ensue Los Angeles because the police were acquitted. (Biography.com Authors)
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Another victim of police brutality is Charles Kinsey. Charles Kinsey a behaviorist

therapist was shot by the police in Miami, Florida. This incident occurred because the police got

a call about someone with a weapon around the area. When the police arrived at the scene Mr.

Kinsey was there trying to help his patient who had autism. The police officers told Mr. Kinsey

to get down on the ground and he complied. While he was on the ground he repeatedly told the

officers that he was unarmed while lying on the ground in the middle of the street with his hands

up. (Hannon). He also tried to reassure the police that the other person, his patient, was holding

a toy truck not a gun and was autistic. Oddly enough this event led to Mr. Kinsey was shot in the

leg twice. Luckily a citizen was there and recorded the encounter on their phone that clearly

showed what happened during the incident. John Rivera, the president of the Dade County

Benevolent Association, stated that, Mr. Kinsey did everything right, let's be real clear about

that, (Shoichet).

These cases have one very important factor together, a camera was involved. From 1991

to 2016 one thing is very clear in cases of police brutality, it has become more prevalent. As our

technology has increased more and more cases of police brutality have been shown around the

world. Phones have become an everyday tool that everyone uses. Due to our dependence on cell

phones developers have advanced the phone so much that we have cameras that can almost take

professional pictures. These technological advancement have led to the police wearing body


Body cameras have now been implemented and issued to numerous major police

departments in America where high tension has occurred between citizens and the police like

Baltimore. The cameras are used to show the public of a police officers perspective situations so

that people can better understand what the police officer saw while out in the field. Having the
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cameras are supposed to prevent backlash on the police for the force the used on the victim.

They are also used to protect the civil rights of people who have had a run in with officers.

Because body cameras are being used more widespread it could prevent a lot more cases of

police brutality. However, due to recent events body cameras are now looked as personnel files.

If viewed by the public before proper requirements it would violate HR law.

Many people have always pointed to training as a way to prevent further police

brutalities. Even I believed that training could be improved on ways to stabilize the dangerous

situation, but I realize now that stabilizing a dangerous situation is better said than done. Police

officers live an extremely difficult lifestyle. The good work they do for citizens often go

unnoticed as we think of what they do as part of their job and when they slip up just once they

could be publicly scrutinized because of situation that was particularly stressful. In fact, retired

police chief Grady said I cannot suggest to you a single training course that I could give

someone that would change their thinking when it came to making a decision to shoot or not

shoot when there is absolutely no threat to their person. This is not a training issue.(Williams)

If a retired police chief who has actually been out in the field, assessing life or death

situations, does not think that improving training is necessarily going to stop police brutality then

we need to find a different solution. But Grady stated that This is an issue of who it is that

weve decided we would allow to police our country (Williams). He is trying to say that how

the police departments recruit people is a problem.

Recruiting from what retired police chief Grady believes is where the police could try and

change the police and prevent further brutality. Who you hire to do the job makes a difference,

(Williams quoted by Donald Grady II). He thinks that if we dont try to hire people as a police

based on how aggressive they are that it would a great star. He believes that you can teach a
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person to be aggressive but that you cannot pull of some the unreasonable aggressiveness. In

fact, a Yale professor and a member of the Presidents Task Force on 21st Century Policing,

Tracey Meares agrees with police chief Grady and stated We [the police department] know most

evidence points pretty strongly that having more-highly educated and older people starting the

job [as police officers] makes a difference(Williams).

Knowing that police brutality exists is half the battle of preventing it from ever effecting

another family. Colin Kaepernick a renowned NFL quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers has

realized this and has started a peaceful protest to help America realize the injustice that exists

within it due to the police. Because of this movement Kaepernick has created, people have joined

his cause. This is something that has to be said, it has to be brought to the forefront of

everybodys attention, and when thats done I think people can realize what the situation [is] and

then really effect change,(Carpenter quoted by Kaepernick).People have realized that the

injustices in America need to be addressed due to Kaepernicks peaceful action.

To conclude, Police brutality has plagued the citizens of America for decades and it will

continue if we dont try to stop it as a whole. The police cannot dictate people by using fear to

control us. Since cell phones are being use every day we can always use our cameras to record

incidents where the police are using too much force on a citizen. In order to prevent more

brutality there needs to be reforms such as recruiting. Instead of recruiting aggressive people

who are young there could be more diversity in the police recruitment methods. Doing this could

possible help solve the problem of police brutality and prevent further tragedies to families.in

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Works Cited

Bibliography.com Authors. Rodney King Biography. Bio.com, A&E Networks

Television, 23 June 2015, http://www.biography.com/people/rodney-king-


Burkett, N J. EXCLUSIVE: Bronx Man Claims Police Brutality Caught on Camera.

ABC7 New York, ABC News Network, 5 Sept. 2014,



Carpenter, Les. Kaepernick's Anthem Protest Is Perfect Way to Highlight America's

Race Problem. The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 9 Sept. 2016,



Danilina, S. What Is Police Brutality? The Law Dictionary, Black's Law Dictionary

2nd Ed., http://thelawdictionary.org/article/what-is-police-brutality/.

Hannon, Elliot. Cellphone Video Shows Keith Scotts Wife Pleading Dont Shoot Him

Before Police Open Fire. Slate Magazine, The Slate Group, 23 Sept. 2016,



Killedbypolice.net. Killed By Police 2015. Killed By Police - 2015 (1207), 1 Jan. 2016,

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Killedbypolice. Killed By Police - 2016. Killed By Police - 2016, 5 Oct. 2016,


Kindy, Kimberly. Fatal Police Shootings in 2015 Approaching 400 Nationwide.

Washington Post, The Washington Post, 30 May 2015,




Kontos, Louis. "Police Brutality." Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice, Gary L.

Anderson, Sage Publications, 2007. Credo Reference,


%2Fcontent%2Fentry%2Fsageact%2Fpolice_brutality%2F0. Accessed 26 Sep


Shoichet, Catherine E et al. North Miami Shooting: Police Accidentally Shot Man, Says

Union. CNN, Cable News Network, 22 July 2016,


Taylor, Marisa. Rodney King Case Changed Perceptions of Police Brutality. ABC

News, ABC News Network, 17 June 2012, http://abcnews.go.com/us/rodney-king-


Williams, Juleyka Lantigua. How Much Can Better Training Do to Improve Policing?

The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 13 July 2016,