One Last Thought

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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 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.

Militarization of Police: A Threat to Democracy

According to multiple definitions of the term, militarize means “to equip with military forces”, “to train for war,” or “when society organizes itself for military conflict or war.” While these definitions make sense for the way our armed forces operate, they have no place in our police force.

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Over the past few years, our society has seen our police force become more and more militarized. Police officers are equipped with armed vehicles, heavy duty weapons, and crowd control instruments that can permanently injure protesters. So the question is, what effect does this have on an officer’s mentality?

First and foremost, the militarization of our police force makes officers think that the use of force is more acceptable. If they are equipped for  violence and have the tools to inflict harm, it makes sense that they would be more willing to.  There could be instances where an officer has the option to peacefully detain a suspect or control a crowd, but chooses to use force because they have the power to. This doesn’t seem right, does it?

Police militarization has the power to turn a peaceful protest into a riot. According to the First Amendment, Americans have the right to assemble peacefully and protest against the government. However, in recent years, we have seen protesters brutally attacked and beaten by officers just for not complying with their requests. According to a NewsWeek article, the following are situations that have occurred between the police and peaceful protesters:

  • During the Ferguson Protests, a cop yells “Bring it, you f****** animals, bring it!”
  • During a Chicago protest, a cop yells at the crowd “Run, you bastards, run!”
  • During a peaceful protest in Ferguson, police attack protesters with tear gas

Americans have the Constitutional right to peacefully assemble. Therefore, why are we allowing our police force to attack innocent people while they are doing so? When police officers are given more powerful weaponry and bring it to protests, they are going into the situation planning to use force, not saving it as a last resort.

Our police force is not our military. There is no need for officers to have the same weapons that members of our armed forces have. If a police unit is unable to handle a peaceful protest and keep the public safe without force, then they cannot do their job. We need police reform, not police militarization.

 

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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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Body Cameras for Police Officers Gaining Momentum Across the Nation

http://www.ksfy.com/content/news/Body-cameras-on-police-officers-gaining-momentum-417066933.html

6PM+PKG+ABERDEEN+BODY+CAMERAS+3-24-17.Still001The South Dakota Advisory Committee is just one of the latest groups to take a look at the value of forcing all police officers to wear body cameras. The group believes that it would be a great idea, especially when it comes to policing minority communities. Rather than just listening to bias recounts of an event, if police officers wore cameras, we would have concrete evidence of what actually happened. Furthermore, Lawrence Diggs, an author who took part on the Diversity Panel during the South Dakota Advisory Committee’s “Subtle Effects of Racism in South Dakota” meeting on Friday says that “It will help us to understand their perspective and it gives us an opportunity for better training for the officers.”

Do you think Body Cameras are a step towards the right direction in regards to helping Police Brutality?

Rap about Police Brutality

The video above consists of an African American man rapping about his opinions on Police Brutality.  The man brings up many valid points regarding the magnitude of power that police officers have in today’s world and how they misuse that power. When the singer states: “If I committed murder, I’d get 25 to life. But if a cop committed murder, he’d only get suspended” it can be inferred that he believes that police officers get off the hook way too often and it is really starting to become unjust. Furthermore, the creator of this video does a great job of displaying to the viewer how many of these cases have arose as he implements many different examples of news stories into the video making it a great watch.

(Warning: Explicit Lyrics)

French Police Kill Chinese Man

french-cop-studenthttp://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/French-Cops-Kill-Chinese-Man-Sparking-Protests-Police-Violence-20170328-0027.html

This article discusses police violence outside of the US that we rarely hear about in America. It makes it clear that the issue of police reform isn’t only domestic, it’s international. In this case, the French police stated that the man “attacked them with scissors”, but his daughter’s statement is that her Father was cutting fish when the police broke down the door and “fired without warning”. This has lead to mass protests in France and tensions continuing to rise as protesters clash with police in riot gear with tear gas.

Body Cameras For All Officers

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During the Trump administration, there has been very little talk about police brutality, even though it has been one of the most widely publicized topics in the United States for the past five years. There have been cases where police officers have used unjust deadly force on a citizen and they were not punished for it. One of the biggest reasons for this is a lack of clarity about what actually happened during the altercation between the officer and the citizen.

In order to hold individuals in our police force accountable, all officers should be required to wear body worn cameras while they are on duty. The most obvious benefit of this would be that every officer’s actions would be monitored, which would reduce the amount of uncertainty when an incident happens. In cases where an officer uses deadly force, the footage from a body camera would help determine whether the force was justified or if the officer unjustly used force. It saddens me to think about the number of families that have been torn apart by police brutality, especially when their family member’s killer was not punished for their actions. Many of those victims could’ve received justice if the officer on duty was wearing a body camera.

When officers are forced to wear body cameras, they know their actions are being monitored and do not engage in misconduct as often. According to a study by Cambridge University,  in seven areas that have already implemented the use of body worn cameras, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of complaints against police officers. This shows that wearing body cameras causes officers to think twice before they act and have a higher accountability for their actions. In past police brutality cases, the officer may have thought twice before using deadly force if they knew their actions would be recorded. This could’ve saved the lives of countless Americans, especially those in the African American community.

Since the death of Michael Brown in 2014, there have been at least 2,756 people killed by police officers. How many more lives need to be lost before we realize our police system needs body cameras?

 

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