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Police Brutality

The issue of police brutality has always been extremely controversial and widely debated, but it has become more topical in the recent years in the USA. The matter is that the USA is among the wealthiest and most developed countries famous for its democratic liberties and ensuring that its citizens enjoy a wide range of fundamental rights. In its turn, it means that the country has a high quality level of living. At the same time, scandals involving the police and brutality inflicted on innocent citizens have plagued the society in the recent years. Consequently, various media and social media have enabled highlighting and spread of previously covert and silenced instances. Incidents like the one in Ferguson have been repeatedly occurring all over the country, while the society has started questioning morality and ethicality of the police conduct and demanding justice in each reported case of police brutality. Moreover, race biasness is evident, which implies that there is a deeper underlying problem in the society that has to be urgently addressed with a view of preventing victimization of hundreds of people. Therefore, the issue of police brutality is topical and sensitive, as well as involving a wide range of ethical issues.

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Police brutality is defined as follows: “Abuses of authority that amount to serious and divisive human rights violations involving the excessive use of force that may occur in the apprehension or retention of civilians” (Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2014). The problem has reached an alarming extent in the USA that has been placed on the Human Rights Watch List of the most severe human rights abusers in regard to the given issue alongside with Zimbabwe and Cambodia (Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2014). Such situation is unacceptable for the country that deems itself to be democratic and protective of the rights of its citizens.

Although, the issue is extremely complicated as there may arise many ambiguities when investigating and detecting police brutality. The statistics and the history prove that it is a systematic problem in the USA. Recently, there has been launched a website called the National Police Violence Map and it is tasked with collecting, verifying, and mapping all instances of police brutality occurring in the country. Besides, journalists and human rights activists tend to report about and provide statistics relating to such incidents so that the society is aware of the problem and urges for an immediate investigation of the issue. Hence, according to the recent statistics, in 2014 police brutality resulted in 1,149 deaths among the civilian population, while as of the beginning of June, 2015, it resulted in 470 deaths (Moore, 2015). During the first three days of June, the police killed four persons without a solid justification of such harsh measures (Moore, 2015). The exact amount of the injured as a result of police brutality is unknown, but it is much more impressive than the number of the killed ones.

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The issue of police brutality is closely interrelated with race and gender, as well as ethicality of the police conduct. Hence, it has been proved that African Americans are the most frequent victims of police brutality as they are three times more likely to be killed than white individuals. In addition, 33% of all African American victims have been unarmed when killed as compared to 18% of white victims (Mapping Police Violence, 2015). Similarly, Native Americans become victims of police brutality as often as African Americans, while Latinos follow the two groups in terms of the number of victims (Moore, 2015). Moreover, the statistics becomes even more shocking if to take into consideration that 71% of all recorded cases of police brutality have involved an unarmed victim suspected of a non-violent crime (Mapping Police Violence, 2015). Thus, it becomes obvious that the problem does not concern criminal behavior, but rather police officers’ prejudices based on race as the racial minorities constitute the targeted population of police brutality. In terms of gender, women less often become the victims of police brutality in terms of number of killed individuals, but they more often become sexual assault victims.

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Although it is evident that such conduct of police officers is illegal and unethical, only 3 in approximately 240 incidents are investigated (Mapping Police Violence, 2015). Such low percentage may be explained by the politics governing the issue inside the police and the law-enforcement system in general. There is no or little accountability inside the group and police officers realize that their actions constituting police brutality incidents will remain uninvestigated and unpunished (Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2014). It is often impossible to prove that the police have exceeded its limits of justified force, which is why persecution rates are so low. Besides, victims of police brutality are afraid to report about incidents as they know that they can hardly expect justice due to the culture existing within the police force. Such culture known as “the blue wall of silence” means that most incidents are covered and that police officers support each other, being a cohesive unit that generally does not admits its mistakes (Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2014). However, recent focus on the issue has resulted in a higher rate of reporting about incidents and at least some investigation into the matter. For instance, civil lawsuits against the police have become a wide-spread tool of defense for victims and the city that has paid the highest amount to settle them is Chicago with $129.7 million within a three-year period (Moore, 2015). Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of police brutality incidents remain unreported and uninvestigated.

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Withal, the issue under consideration is a serious and alarming social problem that concerns a wide range of problematic and controversial domains of social life, including primarily race and racial discrimination. Police behavior is undoubtedly unethical and immoral, as well as illegal. Still, one of the major problems relating to the inability to punish the guilty relates to the lack of evidence, which, in turn, is caused by the inside group dynamics present in the law enforcement system.

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