The Search For Punishment in Police Brutality Cases

November 11, 2014 9:56 am1,208 comments
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons -- Mike Licht

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons — Mike Licht

The events associated with the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri have become outstanding issues in the media recently, though it is evident that only the surface of police brutality has received mass coverage. Whether they incite massive backlash or not, instances of police brutality result in unfair injury or death toward those undeserving of punishment. And, much of the time, the officers involved do not receive punishment for their abuse.

Regardless as to whether or not the problem is inherently due to racism—as is suspected to be the cause of the Ferguson case—or the overall assertion of control, the abuse of the power administered to law enforcement should not be taken lightly as a worldwide issue.

In China, pepper spray and tear gas have become response mechanisms toward pro-democracy protesters, accompanied with incidents of unnecessary and inhumane beatings of the accused. Such actions were, in one case, caught on camera and exposed to the masses.The Daily Beast reporter Ben Leung wrote that, “the reputation of the Hong Kong police force has taken a pounding” as a result.

The problem also hits heavily at home and is exemplified through certain events, including one that occurred in Columbia, SC when a man was pulled over due to a traffic violation. While reaching to retrieve his license from his car, he was shot by the police officer “without any provocation whatsoever,” one news source explained. The officer is being charged with 20 years in prison, providing some amelioration toward this blatant abuse of power.

However, the government responded differently to a similar event in Beavercreek, OH; a man was shot and killed by an officer for harmlessly carrying a BB gun, which was sold at the Walmart he had been shopping in. The charges of murder against the police officer had been overturned because the court believed “that there was no probable cause to charge officers with anything.”

The decision that one of these individuals should be punished while the other receives no punishment signifies the lack of consistency between police-related incidents. The fact that the method of dealing with issues is largely regional and lacks a firm basis suggests that officers are more likely to believe that they can get away with acting inappropriately. The Ohio incident was interpreted to be more excusable due to the civilian involvement and the prominent concern to prevent public shootings, though that does not provide an excuse for police misconduct and the murder of an innocent person.

Though the background of the situations cited for both countries differ, they both represent the harsh mistreatment that could come to fruition as a result of the misuse of the power provided toward these officials. In both nations, the law enforcement is greatly misrepresented by those who discredit their image.

Despite the fact that a strong police force is necessary to maintain order throughout a society, these officials cannot be permitted to exist outside of the law. The mission of a police force is to make sure that justice is served, and by ensuring that the rights of the people are kept in mind before action against them is exerted, a more peaceful relationship between the people and these officers may exist.

The title that is given to a person working for the law does not exclude them from being a citizen responsible for violent crimes. Though their guns were administered to assist them in their work, they must be handled with the same diligence that any lethal weapon requires. The public should not fear those who are supposed to dedicate their lives for their protection; although, through this corruption, fear becomes a popular reaction that further divides the general population and a nation’s legal body.

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