December 15, 1996
Thesis: But, because some officers use these extreme measures when it is not
needed, Police Brutality Essay should be addressed.
I. Police Brutality
A. Racism as a cause
II. Police Brutality is not a problem
Quotes from authorities
B. Statistics of Declining Brutality
III. Stopping Police Brutality
A. Police Stopping themselves
B. Public Stopping Police
Police work is dangerous. Sometimes police put in situations that
excessive force is needed. But, because some officers use these extreme
measures in situations when it is not, police brutality should be addressed.
The use of excessive force may or may not be large problem, but it should be
looked into by both the police and the public.
For those people who feel racism is not a factor in causing the use of
excessive force, here is a startling fact. In Tampa Bay, Florida, five men died
while in the custody of the Tampa Bay police Department (C.
C. 27). The thing is,
the Tampa Bay Police Department is made up of mostly white officers, but of the
five men who died, none where white. Four of the five men that died where
African Americans, and the other man was a Mexican National.
If the incident in Tampa Bay does not show a person racism, this event
might. In New York City, an average of seven Latin Americans were killed a year
between 1986 to 1989, but in 1990, that number increased greatly.
In that year,
twenty-three Latin Americans were killed by police gunfire.
When asked how he felt about racism being involved in police brutality,
Yussuf Naimkly of the University of Regina commented:
“Excessive police force against blacks has always been tolerated, because as a
formally enslaved minority African Americans are trapped in a cultural context
specifically designed to inhibit their development and thus minimize their
threat to white hegemony” (C.C. 72)
Executive Director of Police Misconduct Lawyers Referral Service Karol Heppe
commented, Brutality against minorities is a daily occurrence in Los Angeles,
she says. The difference this time is someone videotaped it (C.C.
Another shocking incident of police brutality occurred in Reynoldsberg,
Ohio. A group of offices named themselves S.N.A.T.
squad. This acronym stood
for Special Nigger Arrest Team and they made it a point to harass African
The number of people killed by police has gone down from the middle
1970’s to the middle 1980’s in major cities, says Patrick V. Murphy, former
head of police commissions in Detroit, New York, and Washington, D.C. (C.
Also, in Kansas City, Missouri, a police department there has 1,110
officers. Amazingly, the only received approximately 108 complaints from the
public about those 1,100 officers.
Adding to the belief that police brutality isn’t a very big problem,
most legal authorities and officials agree that the use of excessive force by
police officers is going down. In fact, they say that they see brutality
declining from twenty years ago (C.
Police brutality is defined as involving the unnecessary and unjustified
use of force be that either physical or verbal. Gerald Williams, president of
the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) commented, Let me assure you we are
committed to a professional level of policing with an emphasis on fairness,
humanity, and integrity (C.C. 168).
Other than the police stopping brutality internally, the use of civilian
review boards can be used. These boards must be able to receive all the
evidence in a case, including the police audio tapes, in order to make fair
judgment if excessive force was used or not. If excessive force is present in
cases, these review boards must be able to punish the police or they are almost
Whether or not a person believes police brutality is a serious problem,
it must be stopped. In some cases, where more force is needed than in others,
it is still there. Even in areas where police and the use of excessive force is
not a huge problem, it must be decreased properly by both the police and the
Finally, there needs to be rules making sure it never happens again.
Berands, Neal. Police Brutality: Recognizing Stereotypes
Dudley, William. Police Brutality. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1991
Skalnick, Jerome H. and James J.
Frye. Above the Law: Police and the use
of Excessive Force
Suspects in Question Time. 5 April 1993:31 .