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There are many social issues on the rise in today’s society of America. Police brutality is one of the many social issues happening today. Many question the training police officers are given when in the academy. Police brutality happens almost everyday and there are videos posted on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that shows brutality happening to a civilian. It has been a civil rights issue for so long. Cities across the United States have encountered high profiled cases of excessive police force. People who are angered by the excessive police force are protesting against this issue from the 1940s, Civil Rights Movement, to this day protesting for this social issue to come to an end and better the police training happening in the academy.
The issue of police training is it reflects on the social issue of police brutality. Police are being trained to have the warrior mindset which would have officers ready to kill at any moment there is a threat. “Warrior training and the martial mindset of its advocates, has contributed to a string of high-profile police shootings.” (Featherstone Steve, May 2017) This training could turn minor conflicts into deadly force encounters. Having this training can hurt the innocent civilians nearby because if they approach a situation wrong it could lead to innocent lives being affected. “Psychologists believe that this structure coupled with warrior training causes police to react violently when the suspect does something to annoy them. (Shermer, M. 2015) Police in training and older police officers should have training to learn how to not take a situation in their own hands and learn a proper way that would not cause lives being taken. For training, police recruits receive an average of 107 hours of firearm training and defensive techniques, but only receive 16 hours of training for crisis intervention and de-escalating conflicts. Police recruits spending more time in firearms training and defensive techniques should not be more than training of crisis intervention and de-escalating conflicts because if they had the equal amount of each training there would not be as many people, mayors, news outlets, families, friends and residents, questioning the training police officers go through to join the force.
It has many mayors of cities questioning the police training. Sacramento Mayor, Darrell Steinberg, is questioning the training of police officers after the death of Stephon Clark who was fatally shot by police officers on Mar. 18, 2018. Officers fired 20 times in the matter of 10 minutes at Clark. Eight of the 20 shots hit Clark in the back. The Sacramento police were investigating a vandalism complaint in the neighborhood of south Sacramento which he lived in with his grandmother. Clark was fatally shot in his grandmother’s backyard. Steinberg stated to the New York Times, “While we cannot prejudge the outcome of the investigation, because that wouldn’t be fair to anybody, we must immediately begin questioning the protocol, the training and the policies that arise from watching the video.” (Fuller, Del Real, 2018, para 5) Police muted their body cameras after they opened fire, but their body cameras and police helicopter recorded the fatal shooting that took place. Only minutes after the shooting and the police muting their body cameras, the officers can be seen on the cameras talking, but there was no sound to be able to hear what the officers were talking about. The police were accused of not giving Stephon Clark, who was not armed, enough time to put his hands up. The officers also waited too long to call in for medical help for Clark. This shooting ignited protests against police killings in the area of Sacramento and other cities as well. The police department could not figure out why the officers muted their body cameras, but since this shooting the department has been considering to ban officers from muting their body cameras.
Many people believe the issue of police brutality all started from the Michael Brown shooting on Aug. 9, 2014. Michael Brown was shot by Darren Wilson apart of the Ferguson police department in Ferguson, Mo. The shooting caused many protests around the Ferguson area for weeks. The grand jury of the Michael Brown case did not indict Wilson. The jury deciding not to indict Wilson caused another wave of protests. Buildings were set on fire and businesses were being raided as well. Brown’s death had weeks of protests and the police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets with the protesting. Two months later, in Chicago, Illinois, Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times from walking away from the police officers. Someone reported a man was breaking into trucks and was carrying a knife. Police officers were trailing McDonald for blocks with a long distance and requested backup from other police officers with a taser. McDonald was walking away when police officer Jason Van Dyke arrived at the pursuit and started shooting at McDonald. Dash cam video of the fatal shooting was released to the public 13 months later. That same day the video was released, the officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with first degree murder of Laquan Michaels. The three other Chicago officers, Joe Walsh, Thomas Gaffney and David March, did not fire a single shot when McDonald was killed, but they are charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy and official misconduct for being accused of covering up for Van Dyke. Philando Castile was one of the many who were victims of police brutality ending in a tragic outcome. He was pulled over for a broken tail light and while reaching for his license, Falcon Heights officer, Jeronimo Yanez, shot Castile. Castile’s girlfriend Facebook Live the aftermath immediately after the shooting. Both officers were put on administrative leave. So many police get off the hook after causing heartbreak and anger from the families of the son, brother, father, sister, mother, etc. affected by the tragic event happening.
In the past couple of years police violence has gone up. “In 2015, there were 1,307 people who lost their lives at the hands of a police officer or law enforcement official. In 2016, that number was 1,152. Although lower, both years are still higher than the 1,149 people who were killed by police in 2014” (Lombardo, 2017). People of color are more likely to be killed than whites. African Americans are killed by police at a rate of 7.2 per million and whites are killed by 2.9 per million (Fox, 2018). Out of all 17,000 law enforcement agencies, only a small number of track police misconduct reports. (Lombardo, 2017) In more than 99 percent of fatal shootings police officers do not get charged. According to Mapping Police Violence, police officers have killed 852 people in the United States in the year of 2018. In 2017, police killed 1,147 people. 25 percent of the 1,147 killed were black.
The populations who are mostly impacted by this social issue are African American and Latino, but mainly African American communities and neighborhoods are impacted more than other communities and neighborhoods. In the news, people are informed of young and older residents of black resident communities being killed by police officers. In California, black population accounts for only 6.5 percent of the 40 million residents of the state of California. Many studies document that young boys and men that are African American are subjected to excessive and sometimes deadly police force. Body searches by the police are very common in Latino and African American neighborhoods. Having body searches more common in Latino and African American neighborhoods and communities can cause anger to rise because it is profiling to those communities more than other communities. Even in police traffic stops, the two populations are more in common with police traffic stops as well.
The risks of police brutality social issue is on the rise in America and is growing since police are being trained to react to anything threatening. Police being trained to react to the slightest thing threatening, minor or not, has costed young and adult lives of male and females around the United States. Racism can be a big part in police brutality since mostly African American and Latino neighborhoods and communities are affected and impacted the most. People have lost moms, dads, sisters, brothers, relatives, neighbors, friends and co-workers due to the violence of police brutality. The social issue of police brutality with the questioning of their training of young and older officers has been rising since the killing of Michael Brown. The violence of police officers can leave PTSD to people who have witnessed the fatal shootings and the beating of unarmed civilians. Many cities encounter excessive police force and there has been barely any work for the police to understand how this excessive force can put a strain on the police-community relations. This social issue has been on the rise for 68 years and will continue to rise until reform of training for police officers can be changed.
- Fox, M. (2018, May 7). The lives of people of color are more likely to be cut short by police. Retrieved November 16, 2018, from
- Lombardo, C. (2017, February 22). 42 Shocking Police Brutality Statistics. Retrieved November 16, 2018, from https://vittana.org/42-shocking-police-brutality-statistics
- Police have killed 852 people in 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2018, from https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/
- Del, J. A. (2018, March 29). California Today: Sacramento Mayor Questions Police Training. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/29/us/california-today-sacramento-mayor-stephon-clark.html
- Desmond, M., Papachristos, A. V., & Kirk, D. S. (2016). Police Violence and Citizen Crime Reporting in the Black Community. American Sociological Review, 81(5), 857–876. https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122416663494
- Smith, M. (2018, October 09). An Officer Is Guilty of Murder. On Trial Next: A Police ‘Code of Silence’. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/09/us/laquan-mcdonald-chicago-police.html
- Smith, M., Williams, T., & Davey, M. (2018, October 05). ‘Justice for Laquan!’ Demonstrators Chant, as Chicago Officer Is Convicted of Murder. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/05/us/van-dyke-guilty-laquan-mcdonald.html?rref=collection/byline/mitch-smith&module=inline
- WBUR. (2016, July 11). After 9 High-Profile Police-Involved Deaths Of African-Americans, What Happened To The Officers? Retrieved from http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2016/07/11/america-police-shooting-timeline
- What Happened in Ferguson? (2014, August 13). Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/08/13/us/ferguson-missouri-town-under-siege-after-police-shooting.html
- FEATHERSTONE, S. (2017,May). Professor Carnage. New Republic, 248(5), 20–27. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.cabrini.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=122107750&site=ehost-live
- Myers, C. A. (2017). Police Violence Against People with Mental Disabilities: The Immutable Duty Under the ADA to Reasonably Accommodate During Arrest. Vanderbilt Law Review, 70(6), 1393–1426. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.cabrini.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=126502638&site=ehost-live
- Shermer, M. (2015, July). Outrageous. Scientific American, 313(1), 77. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.cabrini.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=103166963&site=ehost-live
- Markman, A. (2015). Why Are So Many Unarmed Black Americans Killed by the Police? Humanist, 75(4), 8–11. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.cabrini.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=103528665&site=ehost-live
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