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

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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We Need Aviation Police Reform, Too

2015125685ca1324953In 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.

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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.

We Need Federal Laws Against Stop and Frisk

200_snfDuring the 2016 Presidential Election, “stop and frisk” was a topic that was highly debated between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. For those of you who don’t know, stop and frisk is a controversial police practice where an officer can detain a “suspicious” individual and lightly run their hands over their body to see if they are carrying a weapon. The justification behind this practice is that it prevents crimes from happening, but in reality the practice does more harm than good. The practice of stop and frisk should be banned in police departments nationwide because it is racially biased towards minority men.

 

In 2013, a federal judge ruled that the way the NYPD was conducting stop and frisks was unconstitutional. The main argument in the ruling was that between 2003-2013, the NYPD was targeting minority men with their stops, which violated their constitutional rights. One statistic the court cited was that Black and Hispanic men were more likely to be stopped for “furtive movements,” or for looking like they are trying to hide something. This is problematic because it shows how officer’s unconscious or conscious racial biases can lead them to target minority men. If they are unconsciously racist toward minorities, then of course they will think they are “acting suspiciously” when they are not doing anything wrong.

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This issue is not just found in the NYPD. Evidence of racially biased stops were also found in Philadelphia in 2015. They found evidence that “one-third of all stops and 42 percent of all frisks were conducted without a valid reason, and the vast majority of the people searched were black.” In addition, “out of 794 illegal stops, 71 percent targeted black people.” This shows that not only are these stops racially motivated, but a majority of the stops are being performed illegally! If an officer can’t differentiate between a valid stop and an illegal stop, then the practice of stop and frisk will only lead to more corruption in our police system.

 

This problem does not only exist in New York and Philadelphia, but they are two prime examples of how our citizens are being mistreated by the police. A program that was designed to help our society has unfortunately given the police more power than they should have. Officers should not have the right to simply stop someone they deem as being suspicious. They also should not have the option to stop someone just because of their racial biases. We do not need our citizens to be stopped and frisked, we need police reform.

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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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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?