Police and Criminal Justice
In the United States today, the average citizen is unaware of the corruption that goes on in our Criminal Justice System. Law enforcement and Police Officers are abusing their power. If this goes unnoticed it could grow larger and cause bigger problems in our country. The United States Criminal Justice System is one of the best in the whole world. In other countries there is little or no policing. Police officers in the US are well-trained and it is hard to reach their position without a strong education.
A huge quality of a perfect Police Officer is a perfect control of temper because a quiet determined manner has more effect than violent action. But everyone isn’t perfect and there are Police Officers out there that abuse their power and create a dangerous environment for the people around them. During the 1960’s Police Brutality was at an all time high. Police were being biased and attacked those that they did not like because they had the power to do so. On March 3, 1991 when Rodney King and his friend Bryant Allen were driving in Los Angeles, they refused to stop for an officer trying to pull them over.
Instead they increased their speed and when the Police finally stopped the car they viciously beat King for a period of two minutes. He was left with 11 skull fractures, brain damage, and kidney damage. The police officers did not realize though that their actions were being videotaped. They were eventually tried and found not guilty by an all white jury. This set off 6 days of rioting and the case prompted an era of reform. In the book, “Essentials of Criminal Justice” written by Larry Siegel, it notes some of the things done by Police Departments to make sure that Policemen are not abusing their power.
These include, “increasing the intelligence standards on the Police Force, officers to be given mental exams to weed out officers that are mentally unfit for the job, and oral boards, which are sitting down with Police Chiefs and answering questions about the job”. Although all these precautions are set to limit or diminish abusive power, it is still a problem that needs to be dealt with. According to Diane Wetendorf, who wrote a book on Abusing Power in Law enforcement she states that, “Society grants members of law enforcement enormous power over citizens to enable the police to keep the peace and to preserve social order.
They are granted a great deal of freedom to use their judgment regarding which laws to enforce, when and against whom. This wide range of options and authority can lead to the abuse of their power. Some police officers come to see themselves not as simply enforcers of the law, but as the law itself. ” Police that abuse their power look at things from a Personal view rather than a professional view. Police Brutality exists in many forms including False Arrest, Intimidation, Racial Profiling, Sexual Abuse and Surveillance abuse.
This exists because officers are not protecting and serving, they are rather going after those that they do not like. In other Countries, Police Departments are corrupt and work with Politicians to create a world run by the Police and Politics. In “Half the Sky”, a book written by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, the police are very corrupt and it causes mayhem in their country. The police in India are tied into Politics and Criminals. The police work with the leaders of prostitution businesses, called brothels. The police take bribes from the leaders and look the other way when something wrong is happening.
In Half the Sky stories are told about the corruption within the Police Forces. When people come running to the police about a rape or something bad that had been done to them, the police usually side with the criminals and nothing is done about the crime. In India the average person doesn’t have a say at all. If they are convicted of a crime they did not do they cannot go to court and have a trial like we do. They are sent right to jail without being questioned. Police work with High power criminals and run most of the big prostitution businesses.
This is what the US could lead to if Policemen that abuse their power are not stopped. On November 7, 2013, I conducted an interview with Alice Perry about corruption in Law Enforcement. Alice Perry is a Criminal Justice Professor at Westfield State University and has a huge background in Law Enforcement. She has prosecuted many Police Officers in the US that have abused their power. She has convicted officers for stealing drugs from the evidence room, and also an officer that was selling drugs in state prison. She also told me a story about the police abusing their power in Etowah County, Alabama.
According to a blog on the American Civil Liberties Union’s website, it states that “About once a month, a marked sheriff’s car shows up, unannounced and after dark, outside a family’s home in Alabama. Uniformed officers walk to the family’s door, in plain sight of every neighbor. They knock and demand to be let in. If the family refuses, the police threaten them with arrest. Once inside, the officers search the family’s home – all without ever obtaining a warrant. ” When one member of the family was a child he was convicted of a sexual offense and had to register as a sex offender.
The policeman had no right to search the house randomly without a warrant, and caused unwanted attention and embarrassment to the family. This is police abuse of power and must be stopped or it may happen to families throughout the country. Perry also explained to me that it is crucial for policing to be honest and law-abiding because they have so much power and could cause harm to civilians. They must perform the job as if they are always being videotaped. I brought up the Half the Sky book and the issues there and asked if she thought that law enforcement played a big role on why people live such a harsh life there.
She replied, “Absolutely. Tyranny exists in those countries. If you’re afraid of the police you won’t say anything or report crimes because you’re afraid of being thrown in jail. In Mexico 45% of prosecutors and judges are on cartels payroll. Around 50% of police officers are on the same payroll. The cartels and Politician’s have a relationship together and this creates a lawless environment. ” We must not let the Police become power driven and turn into corrupt officers like the Police in India. There is a way to stop this. We must become aware of Police Brutality and Abusive power and act on it.
State, Federal, and Local Authorities should ensure that abuses including torture, brutality, and other excessive force by Police officers should not be tolerated and the Officers should be held accountable for their actions and be brought to justice. Police Officers are using excessive force and are not getting in trouble at all. The victims are not speaking up and this could cause the abusive Police Officers to think that they can’t be stopped and they will continue doing so. Another solution to all of this is to introduce training programs designed to minimize the risk of unnecessary force.
These training programs should include gender issues and sensitivity to minority groups. This would help steer a lot of Police Officers from being Abusive toward minority groups and become less biased. Other training programs should include ethics and integrity training. We can help out by making the community aware of the issue, whether it’s by having guest speakers, showing videos, or having meetings and explaining the issue. If we don’t take action then our Law Enforcement could become as corrupt as other countries police forces.