Hi guys! Thank you for following us for the past few months! This is our last post and we would like to leave you all with some closing thoughts. We hope that after following this blog and reading our posts, you understand why we need police reform.
In the past few years, there has been an intense focus on our current police system. There have been a number of high profile police shootings where the public has been outraged by the force used by the officer. This has sparked conversations about police reform and how we can prevent the unjust shooting of citizens from happening again.
The first solution to this problem that our blog has argued for is the implementation of body cameras for all on duty police officers. We believe that by passing federal legislation that requires all officers to wear cameras, there will be less brutality against citizens and officers will have more accountability for their actions. If they are wearing cameras, then it will be clear to see when an officer has engaged in misconduct and can be punished. It will also deter officers from using excessive force because they know they are being recorded.
Our second solution to police brutality is the demilitarization of our police force. When police officers are trained like military members and given the same weapons, they will be more likely to use force. If they are equipped to use force, then they will think it’s okay to use it. Our blog found this to be a direct threat to democracy because no police force should have this much power over the people. If we can change the mindset of the police and avoid militarization, then there will be less instances where officers use unjust force.
Our third solution to police brutality is the elimination of stop and frisk. Through our research, we found that stop and frisk laws are biased towards minority men. This shows there is an obvious flaw in the system and the practice should not be used. Therefore, stop and frisk should be outlawed by federal law to ensure equality under the law for all of our citizens, regardless of race.
Police reform is not something that can happen overnight. We need federal laws passed and people in our government to support the cause. We hope that this blog has inspired you to get out there and fight to protect our community!!!
Thank you all!
-Emily, Harrison, Jared, & Steve
In a Washington Post article titled “I’m A Cop. If You Don’t Want To Get Hurt, Don’t Challenge Me.”, a veteran police officer named Sunil Dutta laid out an argument for why police brutality is justified. Throughout the article, the author makes sweeping generalizations that might be true for him, but do not necessarily apply to all other cops. For example, he starts off the article by stating that “Cops are not murderers. No officer goes out in the field wishing to shoot anyone, armed or unarmed.” While he may not want to shoot anyone, it is a logical fallacy for him to assume that no officer does. By making this statement, he ruins his credibility by implying that there are no officers who abuse their power.
While this argument was weak, it was not the worst argument Dutta made. He then continued his Op-Ed by victim blaming those who have been murdered by police officers. He says that in a majority of cases, it is only “the people [the police] stop who can prevent detentions from turning into tragedies.” He argues that these individuals would not have been killed if they had cooperated.
Again, Dutta fails to support his argument with any facts and cannot see past his own bias. It makes no sense that the only person who can prevent a fatality is the victim. If the officer truly wanted to avoid the use of force, they would keep their gun holstered and their hands off the citizen unless they are threatened. While there are citizens who brought on their deaths by attacking officers, they do not constitute the “majority of cases” like Dutta claims.
Finally, Dutta goes on to say that “if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you.” This sentence, ladies and gentlemen, is what needs to be reformed the most in our current system. Police officers should not have that much power over citizens just because they are wearing a uniform. Citizens are not required to obey every command of a police officer, especially if they are not under arrest. Just because an officer can use the threat of force, they are not entitled to scare any person into doing what they want.
This argument by Dutta shows that police reform needs to begin with individual attitudes in police departments. Officers need to understand that they are not the supreme law of the land and that they work to protect the people. While they do deserve respect from citizens, they also need to treat citizens with respect.
In light of recent events, where a United Airlines passenger was hauled off of a plane and suffered multiple injuries, we decided to focus to the reform of aviation police. The officers who assaulted passenger David Dao were not Chicago Police officers, they were instead airport security officers. In order to protect citizens and airline passengers more, airports nationwide should get rid of airport security officers and only employ trained police officers. Using the Chicago United Airlines case as an example, I will demonstrate the issues that exist in our current system.
The first problem with using airport security officers instead of police officers is that they are not required to have nearly as much training as police officers. For example, Chicago Police officers are required to spend six months in the police academy, compared to just four months of training for aviation police. It does not make sense that someone in a position of authority who is allowed to use force on citizens should not have to undergo extensive training. Those two extra months could’ve educated these officers on how to interact with nonviolent citizens.
If this situation were reversed and there was a violent and dangerous passenger, how would these officers have responded? There is no way of knowing if these under trained officers would have been prepared.
The second issue with the aviation police system is that there does not seem to be consistency in protocol. According to the head of security at the Chicago Department of Aviation, the officers were not supposed to respond to a call like this one. The official also did not know how the officers were instructed about the use of force.
This situation shows an inability on the part of the officers to follow protocol and disorganization within the Department of Aviation regarding when force is necessary. If the officers were explicitly told not to respond to a call like this, then why did they proceed to do so and injure a passenger? Also, if the agency official did not know how much force the officers were allowed to use, that shows an underlying issue with the agency as a whole. If there are not strict guidelines each officer has to abide by regarding force, then more situations like this are bound to happen without reform.
A change needs to happen in airports. Instead of hiring untrained and undisciplined aviation officers, only trained police officers should be hired. This will create more oversight from police departments to ensure that all protocol and department guidelines are being followed. Also, with the increased use of body cameras in police forces, police officers in airports will also be equipped with these devices, which could prevent passengers like David Dao from being assaulted.
One of the biggest churches in Alabama, the Briarwood Presbyterian of Birmingham, is introducing a state law that would allow its two campuses to have a dedicated police force of its choosing. This does not come as a surprise as Briarwood is considered to be one of the largest churches in the state of Alabama. Thousands of people come to their events and not many would argue that police would be benficial to have in events with such a large magnitude of people.
With that said, on the contrary, one could argue that police officers should be involved in more important matters as opposed to supervising a session at a church. The law states that they would be able to choose the number of police officers that they would want at their events and that could be an issue because it could take away from security and overall safety of the community.
What do you think? Do you think that police officers should be required to supervise a church? Or does that take away from the community?
In this article by a local Fox outlet in Memphis, there are conflicting statements between the police and an alleged victim of police brutality. Montana Ceasar claims to have been beaten by police after running. He had stitches as well as several bruises on his face. While the police department claims that one officer was involved in the incident, Ceasar claims that four officers beat him after he was apprehended. Caesar was arrested with Daniel Reyes who was tased in the face and was hit in the ribs during this incident. He claimed he ran because he was targeted by a specific officer in the Memphis Police department. As this story unfolds, it has become quite suspicious on the end of the Memphis Police department as the suspects claim that the department is lying in their report of the incident. Both parties are sticking with their stories as investigations by attorneys on both ends continue to look into the case.
In this article, a New Jersey police officer used his connections within the department to avoid jail time. The officer in question, Sgt. William Billingham, claimed to have fallen asleep at the wheel while on duty, resulting in a major collision with an SUV. The incident was handled internally at first, and the detective used his undercover pseudonym in the filings. Additionally, the officers at the scene never tested him for alcohol. A later investigation found that Officer Billingham was three times over the legal blood alcohol limit. Despite all of this, the officer struck a plea deal and was able to avoid jail time. He then proceeded to file for pension with the department and retired. He has not received the money yet, but he was never reprimanded internally for the incident and pending meetings can release some of his pension in the near future. I think that this misuse of the system is just another example of corruption within police departments that needs to be addressed.
The government of Kashmir, a state in Northern India is taking action to diminish how widespread certain posts on social media gets. “We are thinking of banning Facebook and WhatsApp. They are more dangerous than militants and unruly mobs on the streets,” declared a top police official in Kashmir, according to the Observer. While the internet in Kashmir has never been a stable service, with consistent blackouts, the state wants to change things for good after student protests in response to a police raid on a Kashmiri college gained popularity on various social networks. Live videos of the event went viral on Facebook and Instagram and displayed how poorly police officers were treating people at a peaceful protest.
If the state were to ban social media, it would be a huge blow to the citizens of Kashmir as their voices would be less likely to be heard. In the 21st century, without social media, sharing and displaying your opinion through applications like Twitter and Facebook are some of the most effective ways to gather an audience. Furthermore, the state wants to ban social media so people can no longer post examples of injustice such as photos of brutalities by its military forces.
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Supporters of stop and frisk often rely on the same argument: stop and frisk has positive results, so it is a good policing technique. This argument is found in an article titled “Positive Results of Stop and Frisk Can’t Be Ignored.” The author relies on surface level, unsupported arguments to support stop and frisk policies in New York City and denies all claims that there is racial bias in the NYPD.
The first point author Greg Molinda makes is that of the 4.4 million stop and frisk incidents over the past 10 years, there have been 264,000 arrests and 66,000 weapons confiscated. Because of these numbers, he thinks the program is effective. While it is true that stop and frisk has some positive results, the author fails to recognize that out of the millions of people stopped, only 6% of those people were guilty of a crime. That means that 4.2 million other innocent people were stopped, humiliated in the streets, and treated like a criminal just because the officer “thought they were suspicious looking.”
It is unfathomable that individuals could support a program with only a 6% success rate that has so many other negative consequences. To put 6% into perspective, imagine that a surgeon that only has a 6% success rate, and the other 94% of the time the patient isn’t cured. You would consider another surgeon, wouldn’t you?
The second point the author makes is that police officers nationwide want to continue with stop and frisk because it helps them perform their jobs. Of course police officers would support a policy that allows them to search people for no reason! It gives them more power, so it makes sense that they would support the policy. Officers aren’t held accountable for stopping people illegally because they can simply claim they thought the citizen looked suspicious. This policy should be judged based on the impact to society, not by the officers who are benefiting from it.
Molina also tries to throw in the argument that there are black NYPD officers, so this policy can’t possibly be racist. This argument is reminiscent to that of “I have black friends, therefore I can’t be racist!” While there are black NYPD officers, that does not mean that the white NYPD officers aren’t being racially biased. It also doesn’t mean that black police officers can’t racially profile minority citizens. There is an phenomenon called internalized racism, which is the internal acceptance of society’s values that can cause a minority member to dislike their own race.
The issue with stop and frisk is that it allows officers to have too much discretion when stopping and searching citizens. While there may be some success, it is not enough to justify the humiliating search and seizure of innocent American citizens.
The Mayor of Louisville recently described this occurrence as “our worst nightmare.” In Louisville Kentucky, two police officers were charged for their actions in the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Youth Explorer Program. After a six-month investigation, the Jefferson County grand jury charged Officer Brandon Wood on seven counts of sexual abuse, each punishable by up to five years in prison, and former Officer Kenneth Betts on two counts of sodomy, one of which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.
This case is significant because it displays that police officers don’t only make mistakes in terms of brutality in the streets but they also partake in unjust matters in something as simple as an elementary school program, as well.