Police Brutality and the Criminal Justice System
Issues of police brutality, especially towards racial minorities continue to raise hot debates. Thus, this has attracted considerable attention to America’s criminal justice system. As such, particular programs, which are focused on equipping the police with skills in handling vicious situations, were launched. Inarguably, there are instances where the police have the right to apply legal force. However, sometimes the law enforcement officers violate the same law they should uphold, as for example, the Delkab police when they went to make an arrest at 1:30 am at Donovan Hall’s house. Therefore, this case evokes feelings of anger at the officers of the law, as the violence was evidently unwarranted, and it demonstrates the need for a shift in the establishment of administrative control in the justice system.
Watching the video and reading the articles exasperated me to extreme levels. If I were Hall and his family, I would also have been reluctant to open the door. Firstly, why would the police make a civil arrest at 1:30 am? They could have waited until morning. Hall’s mother did acknowledge that she was late in paying a civil fine, but since there was no life being endangered because of the lateness, why did they feel the need to apprehend at such time? Secondly, I fail to comprehend why the officers had to use foul language. They could have explained easily and respectfully their odd-hour visit to Hall’s house. Resorting to derogatory terms and threatening to whip the family once they have got inside do not display the conduct of responsible and accountable police. Dempsey and Forst (2015) note that the words and behavior of the law enforcement representatives should dismiss them. They should be respectful to all, especially when in the line of duty (Siege & Worrall, 2016). Nevertheless, none of these qualities were reflected by the Delkab police in the case.
The comment by Sherriff Brown in the Huffington Post also infuriated me greatly. Saying that his men behaved in such a way because of being angry was just a lame excuse (Murdock, 2013). Staying calm in heated situations, and being able to comfort others should be the inimitable police qualities. Only then, they may help others to find workable solutions (Dempsey & Forst, 2012). In the article, Brown appears to support the injustice that happened. If he cannot acknowledge when his subordinates are wrong, how then can he be a guide and a model for them? Who will defend the ordinary citizens? He further added that the situation escalated because the parent did not set a good example by opening the door when the police knocked. How could they have opened when they felt unsafe? (CBS, 2013) Moreover, the same concept can be applied to Brown. He was probably an inefficient role model for his officers hence being held accountable for their violent behavior.
After watching the video and reading the articles, I realized that police brutality still exists in modern society even now in spite of the constitutional progress that America has made. Nonetheless, there is still a lot to achieve towards developing relations between the law enforcement agencies and the citizenry. The police are mandated with public safety. However, if the officers of the law become violent in unwarranted situations, who will protect the people, especially powerless populations? (Cole, Smith, & Dejong, 2016). Martin Luther King once said that even though the law may not make a man love it, but of equal importance is that it may prevent him from being lynched (Siege & Worrall, 2016). Notwithstanding, this video denies d the protective function of the state legislation. The latter appears to cause harm to the very people it should safeguard.
Today, politicians have continuously implored King’s legacy by encouraging the black population to remain calm when they demonstrate violence. How can they possess themselves when the police attack individuals without reasonable cause? (Alang, 2017). In the video and articles, the family was reluctant to open the door, as they felt unsafe. Any sane person regardless of race or religion would have behaved similarly. Their fears further escalated when the captain did not arrive even after their request (Frampton, 2013). Thus, this reflects a failure in leadership. The captain should have been present to address the issue. I also realized that there was a lack of communication in the scenario, an aspect, which is pertinent to the conduct of law enforcement agents.
The events in the video evoke a series of questions. Firstly, how many of such cases are unaccounted for? Fortunately, this family was lucky to have received some form of justice. However, what about people who do not have such evidence like Hall’s family? Secondly, how assured are citizens of the violation of human rights? In the video, the family undeniably had their rights infringed, and if it had been possible to avoid the publicity provided by the Huffington Post, Brown would have never cared for what had happened to the family. One may also question how the law exercises its power in this instance. Are there some social categories who are better treated based on their race or religious backgrounds? Hence, the scenario is quite unfortunate, as this should not be happening in this day and age. The lack of commitment to handle the infringement of human rights has seen only a few officers being brought to justice (Cole, Smith, & Dejong, 2016). Therefore, this leads to the question of how just the criminal justice system is. Furthermore, what can be done to curb brutality from the police?
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If I had a chance, I would first commend the family for declaring against the police violence. Alang (2017) asserts that change only starts when people determine when their rights are violated. Injustice will always occur when citizens fail to express their opinion (Alang, 2017). Therefore, Hall’s behavior was very brave. I would also make them aware that not all law enforcement agents are brutal. In a typical scenario, the arrest should have been avoided at night since any conscientious police officer would have taken an individual into custody during the day. The police are expected to use due diligence in their conduct and are only permitted to apply force under special circumstances (NIJ, 2016; Steorts, 2015). In the given case, there was nothing wrong about inquiring why the officers were there so late. Nevertheless, Brown’s subordinates acted disgracefully tarnishing the name of the police. I would thus assure them that not all law enforcement agents are like those who attacked them. Moreover, only a few policemen (and their leaders) are disrespectful of the law they should uphold. In addition, I would make them certain that they did nothing wrong by protecting their rights, as this is the only way to end police brutality. If they had not reported on such violence, the officers would not have been punished for their use of excessive force or their abusive language (Frampton, 2013). Lastly, I would advise them to encourage other people to inform about the incidences of police cruelty. Therefore, this would be a big step towards restoring the nobleness of the police profession; furthermore, an overall shift in the relations between the law enforcement agencies and the citizens will be promoted.
One thing that could be changed in the criminal justice system is the establishment of administrative control. Hence, there is a need for the police leadership to be proactive to reduce such incidences as those demonstrated in the video. They must formulate laws and rules that limit the use of force and ensure that the officers who are responsible for violations are held accountable. The law must be equally applied to both the population and the police (Siegel & Worrall, 2016). After all, no individual is above the law. If civilian reviews raise complaints against certain officers, follow-up should be made. Thus, those who infringed the departmental standards should be severely punished as in the event of the Delkab police. Cole, Smith, and Dejong (2016) note that the laxity in criminal justice is the reason why some officers get away with brutality towards citizens. Moreover, such a flaw makes many individuals reluctant to report cases of police fierceness.
In conclusion, the analyzed case is a good example of the use of force by the police in unwarranted situations. Hall’s family was physically and mentally tortured for trying to guarantee their safety. Therefore, this video inspires feelings of outrage at the law enforcement officers. How can the people who are supposed to protect citizens inflict physical and emotional distress on the latter? The case demonstrates how the population may suffer because of the police. It raises the question on how the officers can break the laws they should adhere to. Finally, there appears a need for an improvement in the application of administrative control in the criminal justice system.