Police Use of Force

Police use of force has occupied the centre stage of unprecedented public attention for a long time. The issue was reinforced further in public attention since the brutal police force saga in the issue of Rodney King. However, the collection of data on this issue has proved tricky considering the fact that there is no evidence to point out that the officer had used excessive force that was not necessary. This can only be proved if the incident was video taped as in the case of King. On its part, research has pointed out that certain situations have stimulated excessive force from the police. This paper will point out such situations and also suggest how this use of force can be reduced.

One of the situations that have caused police use of excessive use of force is the location of the incident. When the incident is located in an area prone to violence or a gang location, the police tend to perceive that their lives are endangered and hence apply more force as compared to consensual encounter. This can also be confirmed in areas inhabited by minorities where police have been identified to use more force on them, especially for African Americans (Pollock, p.249).

Offender behaviour also contributes to police use of force. In a case by Los Angeles Police Department, policemen on patrol engaged in shooting of a subject because he failed to honour the policemen’s effort to engage in a consensual encounter. When approached by the police, the subject’s first instinct was to place his hands on the waist. He then ran towards a gang location. This action sent signals to the policemen on patrol that the man was armed. To protect themselves, they had to apply a little force. This points out that a victim’s behaviour could stimulate police use of force (Board of Police Commissioners, 2007, p. 1).

Historical information of the victim can lead to police use of force. For instance, a case by LAPD points out that the victim of a police force had been a well known gang member that they had encountered severally. Wanting to have a consensual encounter with him became fruitless as the victim rushed his hand to the waist and ran to a gang complex. He later drew a hand gun. This triggered police brutality because the policemen on patrol had a history of the victim and they knew that he was a dangerous gang member.

Police brutality causes a great division between a society and the government. This is especially real on minority societies with whom research has pointed out that the most forms of police use of force have been associated. As Pollock (2008, p. 250) points out, “nothing is more divisive in a minority community than a police shooting that appears to be unjust.” This means that police use of excessive force causes division and can even lead to riots as experienced in the Rodney King incident (Gray, 2009, p.1).

The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (2005, p. 50) points out that the solutions to police brutality include monitoring individual police so that their records can identify their indulgence in the crime, police recruitment to be done under strict standards of recruitment, police to be subjected to mandatory psychological evaluations, making clear distinctions between racial hate crimes and official duty, ban the use of taser guns et cetera. With such in question, the offenders will reduce their involvement in use of too much force.

Reference List

LA Board of Police Commissioners. (2007). Abridged summary of categorical use of force incident and findings by the LA Board of police commissioners. Web.

National Association for the Advancement of coloured People. (2005). Focus on solutions to stop police brutality in California against African Americans. Web.

Pollock, J. (2008). Ethical Dilemmas and police use of force. Florence, KY: Cengage publishers.

Time. (2009). The LA Riots: 15 years after Rodney King. Web.