Police Brutality Justified By A Police Officer

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.

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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.

 

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Why The “Effectiveness” of Stop and Frisk Is Invalid

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.”

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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?

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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.

Why Police Militarization Isn’t About Protecting Officers

In the far-right news website Breitbart, there was an article named “Police Militarization: It’s Not About the Equipment, It’s About Keeping the Peace.” The author makes a few outdated, illogical arguments for the militarization of police. Like many proponents for police militarization, the author takes a very narrow view of the world and ignores the negative consequences of militarization.

The first argument he makes is that the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security have given billions of dollars in military weapons to police departments nationwide and a bill to stop this program was shot down by Congress. Since Congress hasn’t objected, he thinks that there is no issue.

Really?

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His argument is that if the government doesn’t seem a problem with it, then it must be okay? This argument is flawed for many reasons, especially since it is the government that has the power to oppress citizens. Of course the government wouldn’t immediately find fault with a program that gives them more power. Just because the government allows something does not mean it is morally correct or the right policy decision. Remember when African Americans were enslaved? Or when women couldn’t vote? The author should think twice before using this logic again in the future.

Secondly, the author argues that officers need military weapons because there is more violence against police officers. While there are cases where officers are attacked by citizens, this should not justify billions of dollars spent on military grade equipment. If officers who already have guns can’t defend themselves against an attacker, how will giving them an armored vehicle protect them? How will instilling values of force and violence towards citizens protect them from an attack? The militarization of police is not a solution for officer deaths, it just adds to the problem of police aggression and force.

Although the author cites that police officer murder has been on the rise, this is actually not the case. According to a BBC article, the number of officers killed by a criminal act has actually decreased since the 1970s.

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Another interesting trend that debunks the authors claims is that the number of police officers in our country has increased. This combined with the stat above shows that officers are less likely to be killed now than they were in the past.

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Those who support militarization are missing the big picture: there are problems in our country surrounding police officer safety, but the answer is not to give officers more expensive weapons and promote violence towards citizens. If individuals want to protect police officers, they should try to fix the deeper issues that make citizens distrust police and kill them.

We don’t need officers with bigger guns, we need police reform.

The Fallible and Unsupported Argument Against Body Cameras

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Police departments nationwide have begun experimenting with body camera use. However, this has inspired many critics to come out against body camera use and warn others of the potential “dangers” of their use. An example of this kind of criticism can be found in an article written on a Bloomberg editorial board. In this article, the author makes several claims against the use of body cameras. The first argument the author makes is that video recordings are not helpful because they lack context and they can mislead juries.  This claim is invalid for many reasons. First of all, if an officer is forced to wear a body camera at all times while they are on duty, the context of the situation will not be ambiguous. The viewer of the video will be able to see the events that happened leading up to an altercation, as well as what happened during the altercation.

The second reason this claim is invalid is because the author is implying that just because video recordings are somewhat fallible, they should not be used at all. I find this logic very simplistic and unconvincing. It is better to have some recording of a situation than no recording at all. Yes, it is true that there might be bad lighting or an unhelpful angle on a video recording, but this only happens some of the time. Also, just because a video recording is unhelpful does not mean the audio recording is not useful. If the image is blurry but the audio still records an officer committing a crime, then the body camera was useful. d0e62304b81f6182931224c9b2dbf698a59c610b2c5d01093b58d2571d4d049c

In this article, the author also argues that body cameras could “erode trust between citizens and law enforcement.” Not only is this claim unsupported, it does not make logical sense. While it is true that some citizens may feel uncomfortable being recorded, this does not necessarily mean they will distrust police officers. On the contrary, it would make more logical sense that body cameras increase trust in police officers because citizens know the officer is being held accountable for their actions. Citizens should have more trust that they will be treated fairly because the officer would not risk engaging in misconduct when they are being recorded.

According to a Rialto, CA study done on the use of body cameras, there is evidence that the use of body cameras both decreased the use of force by officers and decreased the number of complaints against officers. Based on these findings, body cameras force officers to act properly when dealing with citizens and they are less likely to use force. This shows that body camera use actually aids the relationship between the police and citizens and does not “erode trust” like the author claims.

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