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Law enforcement should be exactly that: a group of people who work to make sure that laws are followed and that the public is safe. People want to be able to trust the police, because the police are who are supposed to do this job. If they can’t trust the police, then nobody will feel safe in their homes, their towns, or anywhere in the country.
The problem, however, is that this is not always the case. The problem with being in a position of power is that often, people will abuse that power. In an experiment conducted at Stanford University in 1971 by psychologist Philip Zimbardo, researchers created a simulated prison with normal men acting as police officers. They discovered that the actors very quickly forgot that they were not, in fact, police, and used very violent methods to control their “prisoners.” The experiment showed the dangers of putting people in power, because it was very easy for the power to go to the head of even the most easy-going person. This is especially an issue with police officers, who carry guns. It is incredibly easy for cops to forget the power that they have and just get caught up in the power that they have over the general public.
This is especially an issue for people of color, which has been seen in the news recently in the months following the Ferguson, Missouri riots. Racial profiling is a real issue in the justice system of the United States, as has been shown through many studies. According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, black people were twice as likely as white people to be pulled over by police officers while driving. There are also much more black people in prison than white people, because black people are more likely to be arrested. Because of this, people of color are more likely to be the victims of police brutality. Events such as the 1992 LA Riots, the 2014 Ferguson, MO riots, and the 2014 Baltimore riots show the effect that such violence can have on people, who get very angry about it.
Many people, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have called for laws requiring that police officers on duty wear body-mounted cameras. The goal of this would be to regulate police officers while on duty and discourage the use of excessive force. This would be an incredibly beneficial law to pass, because it would protect all citizens of the United States, especially people of color, from the fear of cops, and promote a higher level of trust in the law enforcement.
Although it is true that police brutality is a huge issue in our country and across the world, it is a stereotype that all police officers are violent and bad people. Many people like to say that all cops are bad because of the recent news stories that paint a bad picture, but the truth is that law enforcement is absolutely necessary to protect and run the community smoothly. With no fear of consequences, criminals would be able to commit any crime they wanted. Police departments prevent this, and police officers are very important parts of our society. They risk their safety and their lives every day, and even though the system may not be perfect, the majority of cops are people to be respected and celebrated.
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