There are many systems set into place to serve and protect the people, though more of these collective systems are the ones dividing people apart. Police brutality is one of the many systems that contribute to the division of the people. Police brutality is when officers use unreasonable and excessive force to subdue victims/people. Police officers violate basic human rights which were often concealed in the past, however social media has brought a rise to this ongoing dilemma. Social media has allowed the public to pay more attention to police brutality, as a result more police are being held accountable for their actions. Therefore, it is bringing on a greater call for change within our criminal justice system.
Moreover, The advancement of social media has blown up excessively compared to past usage. Millions of people log on everyday to view the latest posts, news, or trending topics that are occuring in the world. When the incident of George Floyd took place , the video was shared everywhere throughout social media. It had become a trending topic for weeks. People were disgusted by the explicit content seen in the video and outraged that a police officer would conduct himself in such a way. The incident sparked a lot of tension and it was an eye opener to see how police officers really treated people. To some people, it was their first time ever seeing something so profound.
Police brutality was always an issue, but it was not always made publicly because some police officers would try to cover up the incidents. Some officers would end up turning off their cameras to hide what they were doing because they knew that if other people saw , they would be punished accordingly. This is where police officers start to abuse their power. The police officers start to have the mindset that they can do anything and wouldn’t receive any consequences for their actions. This makes it a dangerous game because police officers think they are entitled to do whatever they want and afterwards quickly change up the story to save their reputation . For example, in June 2018, Samuel Scott was arrested by the Miami Police for a call that police had received claiming that Scott’s car was stolen. Scott was the one that had made the call and the police thought that he was one who stole it. The car had got into a collision and the police believed that Scott had filed a false report. The description of the person matched Scott, so they took him into custody. Police had confiscated some of Scott’s belongings in the beginning, but when he filed a motion to retrieve them back, they weren’t able to because there was no record of it being confiscated. In the article, Body Cameras Turned Off During Miami PD Arrest, they say that “The body camera video obtained by the NBC 6 Investigators should be able to help track what happened to the items, but after Guzman handled the wallet and cellphone, he is seen reaching up to the camera and turning it off without explaining why. It remained off for several minutes. ‘It all seemed very suspicious. To this date, we don’t really know what the answer is or why the officer even turned it (his body camera) off in the first place,’ Pepper said adding body cameras are a ‘good tool’ to make sure officers follow the department’s rules and procedures.” The officer purposely turned off his camera most likely because he knew his actions were problematic and did not follow the code of conduct. Many police officers tend to do this and it should be recognized rather than ignored. The officer was disciplined by the police department as stated, but they did not state what the discipline was. Imagine what could have happened during the time period of the camera not being on. The officer could have harassed Scott and many other altercations may have occurred but there is no evidence to prove the event. Now it is mandatory by law that all officers have their cameras on at all times when confronting a situation.
In the case of Philando Castile, he was shot and killed during a traffic stop after an officer had found out that Castile had a gun. He told officers about the gun and they continued to be hostile with him. People are allowed to have possession of a firearm as long as they have a permit for it which Castile had. The police department described the officer to be scared and nervous and it caused him to pull the trigger. It is not understandable why the officer would continue to pull the trigger. Croft’s article claims that “He said he’d made hundreds of traffic stops in which the drivers informed him they were carrying firearms. Those stops ended safely ‘100 percent of the time’ because the drivers kept their hands in view and told him when they were reaching for their wallets or other objects, he said.” If the officer had these encounters before and handled them perfectly and safely, why couldn’t he do the same for Castile? Was it because of his race? Philando Castile’s girlfriend had recorded the incident and posted to social media, and people immediately got upset at what was being shown throughout the video.. The police officer was found not guilty of the murder of Castile, but was removed from the police force because “the public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city” as M.Kennedy claims in their article. Protests were formed in the streets of Minnetsota as people were outraged by the murder and the outcome of the verdict. When will it ever stop?
People tend to view police officers in a negative way based on past encounters and senseless murders that have occurred.. Many people are afraid to call the police for help even when they are in a situation that requires aid from them. The fear of someone being falsely accused and possibly murder makes society uneasy about police help. Police brutality impacts many urban neighborhoods, minorities, and young adults. It has made people in certain communities lose trust and hope in their offerings to society.. When an officer drives around a neighborhood, people would often adjust their behavior and stay on high alert because most of the time they feel like the cops are not on their side. With that being said, there is a lot of distrust and disconnect between communities and police.
Social media can influence people in many different ways, highlighting how police officers attack innocent minorities on a daily basis. But not all police officers are the same. It’s suspicious to see that some police officers abuse their power while others don’t. If that is the case, then there is something going on to make police officers act brutal towards people. There are times where police officers would help give rides for people who are far from their destination all from the kindness of their heart. So where is the disconnection? Police brutality is caused by the improper training that officers receive and also caused by their lack of judgement depending on the situation.
Speculations of police training being faulty has caused some people to look for the reason why their training is the way it is. Police brutality is not something that these officers just randomly do, it is learned. Smith says that “The academy did not teach us the fundamental difference between power and authority or how to judiciously apply either.” These are words from the mouth of a former police officer who was in the force for about 18 years. This tells us that the training police officers go through doesn’t even include learning how to use their power properly and that is the main part of being a police officer. Not knowing how to use one’s power basically means that person is unqualified to wield that power. Police officers are only mostly taught the basics of their job which are driving, writing reports, using a weapon, and self defense. People on social media want the police programs to train their officers on how to be able to deescalate a situation without the use of unnecessary force.
Some police officers act brutal just for the fun of it. At a certain point, the former 18 year officer “began to feel less like a cop and more like a member of an occupying army. One summer, I arrested a man on the Fourth of July. I don’t remember why I arrested him, but I can remember taunting him about having his freedom taken away on Independence Day. That was funny to me at the time” as Smith also claims. This is the reason why people want reformations in police training. They don’t want incidents like this to be happening. It isn’t right for a police officer to be making a joke like that towards a victim. Feeling like an occupying army member just shows that the officer’s method of interacting with the public is not acceptable, yet they continue to keep up the act anyway. In Smith’s article, its proclaimed that “The other members of my unit used the same tactics, and as a group we pretty much just bullied our designated patrol area.” Police officers would just bully their way to get what they want in life and it’s sad because people aren’t able to do anything about it because they would be threatened with arrest; no one wants to get arrested. People would often speak up about their personal encounters with police but no type of consequence would be given to them.
Social media has been calling for police academy reformations because people believe that there is something wrong with the police training. They believe that their training isn’t thorough enough for them to be out in the real world. “Defund The Police” has been a trending topic that people discuss throughout social media and on the news. When some people hear about defunding the police they think that it means removing the police force altogether, but that isn’t the case. “Defunding the police doesn’t mean that the police force will be entirely gone, points out @Carrujo” as said in the article These Instagram Graphics Help Explain What ‘Defund The Police’ Really Means. Defunding the police means to take down the current system that we have and reform it so it is better than how it was before. The training would cover areas of how to handle human interaction and how to make better judgement calls when dealing with victims. Many people are upset with the current system of police because they receive money but they don’t put it towards better training programs and instead waste it on other pointless stuff like coffee makers or video game rooms.
The type of training that police officers have is really surprising to the world. According to the article The Culture of Policing is Broken by The Atlantic, the recruits are constantly told that the world is threatening, which is basically telling the officers to always stay on guard. It’s brainwashing the officers to treat everything as a threat even during situations where that kind of behavior isn’t needed. This could be the source as to why some police officers are constantly hostile. They are trained to think and behave that way. Police officers are also introduced to new ways of using their power for their own personal needs. Smith introduces how officers behave when given certain jobs. “I became an internal affairs detective in 2013 and became privy to other, more nefarious ways cops used and abused their power. It was a common problem for cops to stalk former romantic partners” (Smith). This shows that police brutality is being taught everywhere and not just at the academy. As people climb higher ranks, they gain access to different tactics/methods for abuse on the people. This needs to stop before it gets worse to the point where there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
As I said earlier, “Police brutality is not something that these officers just randomly do, it is learned.” Police brutality isn’t acceptable and people will not tolerate its continuity.
Police brutality consists of a plethora of instances in which the police are negatively targeted for solely doing their job. Social media has played a wide role in the false deception of police and continues to increase the hatred that Americans are growing for the people who we rely on to protect us. The victims often play a role as well by triggering police officers and using violence to fight back. Such actions often lead to police officers taking alternative measures by utilizing excessive force only to complete their job. Police officers are not the main source of police brutality on social media, a lack of education upon what is the standard for force and violent citizens is what causes the false portrayal of brutality for all police officers.
In 2020 during the numerous Black Lives Matter protests, the government had implemented a mandatory curfew because the chaos was at an all time maximum with looting, burning things, and street violence. Originally, the protests were planned peaceful but eventually the anger and frustration led the people fighting for justice to get out of control. Once businesses were being looted and public property was being damaged, it was time for the police to do their job and take action. Tear gas was sprayed to control crowds, many were arrested for inane behaviors and protests were shut down in regards to safety concerns for many Americans. Police officers are only there to do their job that they were hired for, but people make it hard for them. What many fail to acknowledge is that the police are people too and by subjecting all police officers to what they see trending on social media is unjust. Social Media eventually tried to take a stance in defense of police by making movements such as Blue Lives Matter to raise awareness and protection of crimes committed against the police. Social media has a great impact on the world today and creating a negative view against the police only allows one to become blindsided to the other side. Police do contribute to many goods in society and should not only be visualized by their flaws.
Police officers are trained to earn their badges. They understand basic human rights and what is considered “acceptable force” in today’s society. A lack of education by the people contributes to false deception of police because now false accusations are consistently being made on what force is legal. People who do not know anything about the training of police officers are adding input which only continues to promote the hate of all police. If everyone got on the same page and created a law on the maximum amount of force allowed in an encounter by the police then no gray areas would emerge. Often times police encounters that were labeled “brutality” were a result of a misunderstanding.
America is a democracy that emphasizes freedom amongst the people. Police officers play a vital role in maintaining the peace. Violence has been submerged within our communities for years and police seem to be the main source of ensuring the peace. Police often combat violence through measures that many people may not agree on. They often do not intentionally mean to cause harm or crime however it can be said that the police think negligently while in the heat of the moment. What many people fail to consider is that they are putting their lives on the line as well for every incident they encounter. Violence is dangerous for every party in an encounter and police are needed to limit such offenses that can ultimately be detrimental to families and friends.
For example, police officers had shot and killed Rayshard Brooks back in 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia at a local Wendys. In the Vox article by Z.Aleem, “Rolfe and Brosnan grab his arms, and he begins to twist away from them…Brooks continues to wiggle, and the officers yell, ‘Stop fighting, stop fighting,’ and ‘You’re going to get Tased!’” Rayshard had resisted arrest and tried to flee the scene with one of the officer’s taser in hand. Police officers don’t have the intention to kill, but given the circumstances, they will do what they feel is necessary. Rayshard could have injured bystanders with the taser and the police officers goal is to make sure that the people are safe. So they did what they had to do which ultimately led to Rayshard’s death.
I understand that critics would disagree with my stance and argue that police brutality is what opens the door to discrimination, inequalities against minorities and misuse of excessive force. However as the future continues to progress so should our government workers. Police serve our neighborhoods with intentions of keeping it safe. Yes police are continuing to get themselves into civil rights lawsuits, and caught in violation of training mechanisms. Yet, such instances allow past and future cops to evaluate not only how you are speaking to them but also improvements that could be made within our criminal justice system and the labelling of “police brutality”.
Ultimately, so many factors contribute to the negative portrayal of police seen throughout the United states. The main source of police brutality is social media, a lack of education upon what is the standard for force and violent citizens is what causes the false portrayal of brutality for all police officers. Police protect us citizens and help create safe spaces for when one is in need. In order to continue thriving we the people have to acknowledge the many pros that police exhibit and create an environment where police are not the only target.
Connie Fossi, W. S. (2020, February 20). Body Cameras Turned Off During Miami PD Arrest. NBC 6 South Florida. https://www.nbcmiami.com/investigations/body-cameras-turned-off-during-miami-pd-arrest/2193518/ .
Croft, J. (2017, June 21). Philando Castile shooting: Dashcam video shows rapid event. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2017/06/20/us/philando-castile-shooting-dashcam/index.html .
Kennedy, M. (2017, June 16). Hundreds Protest After Minnesota Officer Found Not Guilty In Philando Castile Death. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/06/16/532783821/minnesota-police-officer-found-not-guilty-in-shooting-death-of-philando-castile
Miller, K. (2020, June 9). These Instagram Graphics Help Explain What ‘Defund The Police’ Really Means. Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/a32803268/defund-the-police-meaning-instagram/.
Smith, L. (2019, August 30). I Was a Cop for 18 Years. I Witnessed and Participated in Abuses of Power. Medium. https://gen.medium.com/i-was-a-cop-for-18-years-i-witnessed-and-participated-in-abuses-of-power-8d057c18f9ee.
Brooks, D. (2020, June 16). The Culture of Policing Is Broken. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/how-police-brutality-gets-made/613030/.
Aleem, Z., & Collins, S. (2020, June 13). The police killing of Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s drive-through, explained . Vox. https://www.vox.com/2020/6/13/21290334/atlanta-police-shooting-wendys-video
Hubler, S., & Bosman, J. (2020, June 5). A Crisis That Began With an Image of Police Violence Keeps Providing More. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/05/us/police-violence-george-floyd.html.
How do people feel when they see a police car — scared or safe? Quora. (n.d.). https://www.quora.com/How-do-people-feel-when-they-see-a-police-car-scared-or-safe.
Browne, M., Kelso, C., & Marcolini, B. (2020, June 14). How Rayshard Brooks Was Fatally Shot by the Atlanta Police. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/14/us/videos-rayshard-brooks-shooting-atlanta-police.html.