Monday, January 10, 2011
The Issue of Police Brutality
The civil suit surrounding the alleged beating of a black family (including a woman pregnant with triplets and a five year old) has been dismissed, but the family is appealing the dismissal. I'm working with them to raise awareness about their particular case, but I have long been worried about the endemic nature of police brutality. Every few months or so, a case appears somewhere in the country where police officers are videotaped (or otherwise accused of) beating (and sometimes killing) an unarmed civilian. These cases vary in terms of egregiousness, but sometimes have involved up to forty-one shots fired at an unarmed citizen. This state of affairs is intolerable and I sincerely believe if there was greater community control over the investigation of police brutality incidents, the number of fatal incidents would decrease to zero. The presence of the Internal Affairs Department (here and in other cities) is clearly not a deterrent to these incidents recurring continually, nor is the presence of the Office of Police Complaints, which offers mediation as an option but not the option of termination of the officer's employment if he is determined to be guilty of offenses. I believe a citizen board with the authority to fire police officers found guilty of misconduct is the necessary tool to sharply curtail police brutality in urban communities (or the creation of an internal affairs department completely separate from the police department, so political pressure within the department is neither assumed by the public to exist or present in reality). The unresolved nature of cases like these and the perception by large segments of our population that the police act above and beyond the law hampers the harmonious police-community relations necessary for crime prevention to be most successful. I salute the hardworking officers of the Metropolitan Police Department for their efforts to reduce crime (particularly violent crime) across the board in the District over the past decade, but it is time to work towards a revolutionary solution to the problem of police brutality.
(Photo from 10-42Adam on Flickr)