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For many years, studies of people’s inclination to establish cooperation with the police have been evolving. However, the ways in which people encounter experiences with the police affects the sense of belonging in communities. Nevertheless, not much research has been directed to the issue of how policemen and policewomen act and behave towards the people. The National Criminal Justice Commission has regularly acknowledged that police officers engage in stressful jobs; however, the commission stressed that no level of a stressing situation should warrant or justify the brutalization of people or use of excessive force against the civilians. The history is laden with numerous cases of police brutality. This has especially been witnessed when the police are dealing with black people. This situation has been witnessed even when the police are dealing with the innocent black people. Innocence, however, does not offer any insulation against abuse. By virtue of color alone, black people are considered suspect by the police, and when one is stopped by the police, a ‘wrong’ move or a ‘wrong’ response can become fatal and can lead to the brutality of the highest level. Most often, police engage in this deviant behavior.
In the recent past, researchers have focused their attention on this area to investigate the problem that has been rapidly growing. Different authors and researchers have attempted to investigate why and where this deviant behavior originates from, and the public attitude towards it. The present study is going to investigate five scholarly articles that have investigated this deviant behavior. These researchers and authors have provided different statistics of police brutality and the prevalence of this deviant behavior. However, the statistics are not always representative of the situation on the ground because a good number of cases of police brutality go unreported. Nevertheless, the reviewed articles provide the general overview of this form of deviant behavior.
In the first article, Klahm & Tiller (2010) provide the evidence of police brutality using force research studies that were published between 1995 and 2008. One of the emerging issues in this study is that most of the police brutality cases are investigated based on what influenced the police officer(s) to use excessive force during their encounter with the suspect(s). Only a few studies were found to lean towards the side of the suspect. In the second article, Desmond, Papachristos & Kirk (2016) investigated police brutality and reporting of such crimes among the black community. As indicated in the opening part of this study, black people are the group that is mostly subjected to police brutality.
As the statistics from some of the reviewed studies will reveal, the black community represents the group that has been subjected to much of the police brutality that has been witnessed, especially in the history of the United States. The brutality directed to the black community after reporting the cases of brutality against them have only served to increase the deviant behavior. As a result, Desmond, Papachristos & Kirk’s study document the reducing statistics of black people who make calls to report the cases of police brutality. In the third article, Seabrook & Wyatt-Nichol (2016) have documented the tension that exists between the African Americans and the criminal justice system in the United States. The authors indicate that this tension leads to heightened levels of injustices, oppression, and discrimination against this minority group, especially, the African American males.
In the fourth article, Avdi (2013) analyzed the factors affecting policemen’s decisions to use excessive force on people. The author’s aim was to investigate the behavioral factors that predict the way a police will behave towards a suspect. The data that was collected involved a total of 882 recorded engagements between the police and suspects in one of the police departments in Florida. The results indicated that the suspects who resisted police arrests motivated the police to employ brutal ways of arrest. In the fifth article, Cooper, Moore, Gruskin & Krieger (2004) investigated the perceived police brutality and their implications for public health. The researchers used data from a police drug crackdown in New York in 2000. Participants involved in this study included 40 injection drug users and 25 non-drug users. These participants reported having been subjected to psychological, physical, and sexual violence. The authors have recommended the need for public health researchers to focus more on the prevalence of such kind of police brutality.
According to Desmond, Papachristos & Kirk (2016), residents of Milwaukee’s neighborhood, who are dominantly black communities, are far less likely to report cases of police brutality after police used violence against Frank Jude (black). Since the brutalization of Jude, the number of 911 calls from this area fell significantly. The beating of Jude affected the residents of Milwaukee’s neighborhood for more than a year as the calls for service by fell by an approximately 22,200 calls. This is not the only case where police brutality against black people has affected the number of calls received. The local and national reports on police brutality had similar effects on the black people. This clearly shows that this deviant behavior by the police has significantly affected the attitudes of black people on the police. The authors conclude that such deviant behaviors by the police have significantly suppressed one of the most important forms of police-civilians engagement – making 911 calls for the matters of personal and public safety. Therefore, police brutality represents one of the deviant behaviors that can significantly undermine the legitimacy of legal authority and affect the attitude of citizens. Desmond, Papachristos & Kirk’s (2016) study has cited
In his study, Avdi (2013) analyzed the factors that affect police’s decision to use force on suspects. The author’s aim was to investigate the behavioral factors that predict the way a police will behave towards a suspect. The data that was collected involved a total of 882 police-civilians engagements. The findings indicated that the suspects who resisted police arrests motivated the police to employ brutal ways of arrest. However, revisiting the National Criminal Justice Commission’s decree no level of stress warrants or justifies the mistreatment of people or use of excessive force when making an arrest. Despite such a decree, the author observed that the use of brutality by police when making arrests has become one of the most critical issues since these cases are on the rise. The authors recommend that there is need to use the reasonable amount of force or threat during certain situations. They consider such use of force to be necessary and justified. Therefore, police officers are under an obligation to use reasonable force.
The findings of Avdi’s (2013) study found out that almost all levels of police use force. However, female police officers were found to be less likely to use excessive force compared to their male counterparts. Further findings indicate that likely to use less force compared to the resistance directed to them by the suspects. These findings are consistent with the proposition by Bazley et al. (2010) that women are less disposed to engage in aggressive behaviors compared to men. They also proposed that females are more likely to use better communication skills compared to males in their attempt to diffuse escalating situations. The author also included the variable of age. The findings of the study indicated that police officers who were aged below 25 years of age were less likely to use brutal force. Also, the officers aged 36 years and above were also less likely to use brutality when engaging with the suspects. The frequency of use of brutality was more for the police officers aged between 25 years and 36 years. These findings provide very important insights into the use of brutality by police officers. First, these findings indicate that most of the police brutality is conducted by male police officers. Secondly, most of the brutality is conducted by police officers aged between 25 and 36 years. Therefore, future researchers on the topic should be more focused on investigating police brutality among male police officers aged between 25 and 36 years. By addressing this issue from this viewpoint, the researchers will be able to provide significant and more helpful findings.
In their article, Seabrook & Wyatt-Nichol (2016) have documented the tension that exists between the African Americans and the criminal justice system in the United States. The authors indicate that this tension leads to heightened levels of injustices, oppression, and discrimination against this minority group, especially, the African American males. This group has been subjected to oppression in their life history in America. The findings of this study are consistent with other studies that have been reviewed in this paper which found out that black people are the ones who are subjected to extensive police brutality. The authors liken the brutality subjected to African American people by the police to the brutality that was subjected to slaves in the institution of slavery. The authors have documented the instances of racial profiling and police brutality which has led to deaths of some African American people in the past, including the deaths of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, and Eric Garner (Seabrook & Wyatt-Nichol, 2016). Based on the findings provided by Seabrook & Wyatt-Nichol’s study, this paper concludes that much of police brutality is more directed to some minority groups than it is directed to the mainstream society. Therefore, there is the need for the researchers investigating deviant behavior to focus more on this group.
One of the factors that have been investigated as triggers to police brutality is racial profiling (Seabrook & Wyatt-Nichol, 2016). Racial profiling is largely used by law enforcement officials in the United States to solve crimes (Bah, 2005). However, racial profiling is misused because race is often attached to it thus promulgating a long-standing bias against African American people, especially African American males.
In their article, Klahm & Tillyer (2010) have investigated different levels of a police force in order to help the reader understand what qualifies as a police force and to which extent the force used by the police becomes brutality. According to one of the studies cited in Klahm & Tillyer’s article, police’s ability to use force to enforce the law represents the most defining characteristic of police work. Police can use different levels of force to compel specific responses from people.
As indicated in the opening part of this paper, Cooper, Moore, Gruskin & Krieger (2004) investigated the perceived police brutality and their implications for public health. The researchers used data from a police drug crackdown in New York in 2000. Participants involved in this study included 40 injection drug users and 25 non-drug users. These participants reported having been subjected to psychological, physical, and sexual violence. The authors have recommended the need for public health researchers to focus more on the prevalence of such kind of police brutality.
All the articles that have been reviewed in the present paper were focused on investigating the issue of police brutality. The cases of police brutality have been rampant, both in the developing and developed countries. Most of the reviewed studies have been conducted in the United States – representing the country that has witnessed some of the worst scenarios of police brutality, especially against the black communities. This is the reason why many studies related to police brutality involve black people. Therefore, the majority of the articles reviewed in this study are mainly focused on investigating police brutality as a deviant behavior against the minority groups. The authors of the five articles are on the right track, both methodologically and theoretically since the methods used and theories used to enable the readers to understand the situation and what the authors are trying to communicate.
Klahm & Tillyer (2010) have used secondary data in terms of reviewing studies that were conducted between 1995 and 2008. The authors used a comprehensive and scientific methodology to identify the studies that would be of relevance to their study. Some of the Boolean terms that were used include police, use of violence, use of force, and forceful encounters. The search included peer-reviewed journals on criminal justice only. Their search generated a total of 41 studies which were addressing the dimension of force usage by the police. A total of 24 studies were found to analyze the incidents in which the police resorted to using of force during an encounter with a suspect. A further two other studies were focused on investigating the attitudes of police officers or perceptions regarding the use of brutality against the suspects. Only one study was focused on analyzing the investigations by internal affairs on the use of force. The remaining studies only conducted a general analysis (without the use of multivariate analyses) on the use of force by the police. All the studies that did not use multivariate analysis were removed from the study. Therefore, the total number of studies that were considered for analysis was 23 studies. The 23studies generated a total of 212 independent variables which the authors used to explain the use of force by the police, including the use of excessive force. They further limited to the analysis of various studies which had strong variables.
In their study, Desmond, Papachristos & Kirk (2016) obtained all the 911 calls that were placed in Milwaukee between March 2004 and December 2010 which generated a total of 1,104, 369 calls. This data was obtained from the Milwaukee Police Department and included the date and address of each call. Other factors that were included are the city code, description for each call, and the process through which the issue was resolved. All the calls that were related to other crimes other than police-suspect engagements were eliminated from the study. Specific analyses were directed to time periods when some popular police brutalities occurred, including the period 2004-2005 when Frank Jude’s beating occurred.
Cooper, Moore, Gruskin & Krieger’s (2004) article used a total of 40 injection drug users and 25 non-drug users who had been subjected to psychological, physical, and sexual violence by the police after getting arrested. In this study, the authors have documented the socio-demographic and violent crime characteristics within 46th Precinct and New York City in 2000. Again, the number of African Americans subjected to police brutality during this crackdown was relatively high (35 percent), in addition to another high number of Hispanic people (50 percent).One of the types of brutality subjected to these participants was neglect. Most of the people subjected to neglect by police are women. Women indicated that after seeking help from the police for sexual and physical violence subjected to them by men, officers failed to come to their aid. They also indicated that some of the solutions suggested by the police were not appropriate, including taking a walk with the police, having sex with their abusive partner, or failed to believe their allegations. One African American woman participant said that when she reported that she had been beaten up by her partner, the policeman told her that the marks were invisible despite the evidence. The second form of police brutality subjected to the participants involved sexual, physical, and psychological violence. These participants reported having experienced excessive police force, including unnecessary kicks usually resulting in broken teeth and ribs which were evidenced by the participants. One male participant indicated that he had been subjected to direst gratuitous physical violence.
Based on the findings from the reviewed articles, the present paper concludes by emphasizing the National Criminal Justice Commission’s proposition that no level of stress warrants or justifies mistreatment of people or use of excessive force by the police. The reviewed articles have documented different types of evidence to show the extent of the problem of police brutality as a serious form of deviant behavior. The evidence and statistics provided paint a picture of a serious situation. These findings reveal police brutality as one of the highest levels of deviant behaviors. Despite numerous calls by human rights groups to put an end to police brutality, the cases of police brutality against the general population have been on the rise. Such a rapid rise in police brutality warrant further research in order to document more evidence of this form of deviant behavior. The present paper has reviewed five peer-reviewed articles. The evidence provided by these articles establishes a good foundation for future researchers on this topic to base their findings. The prevalence of police brutality cases especially in the United States is at alarming rates. As a result, this study recommends that further research should be focused on this area.
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