TheUnited States is a countrythat playsa criticalrolein shapingvariousaspectsof humansaround theworld.ManyviewtheUS not onlyas a countrythat allowsfreespeechanddemocracy,butalsoonethat offershumanitythemuch-needed solace. Peoplefrom almosteveryraceandreligionflockthecountrymainlybecauseof its friendlyatmosphere,notlikelyto befeltelsewhere.However,therecentcasesof policeofficersshootingunarmedindividuals,manyof whomare black, havepaintedtheUS in a ratherbadway.Worthnoting is thattheseseparate casesdonot reflectwhatAmerica standsfor.America is a countryknownforshowingtoleranceto Muslims, Hindus, Christians andpeopleof anyracialbackground.Nonetheless,thepicturepaintedby thesecasescould as wellprovedetrimentalto theUS. Forthatreason,itis imperativethatthisissuebe addressedwith theneededurgencyandin a conclusivemanner.Thispaper proposes the policereformsought to focusontheabuseof authorityin regardto useof forceby the officers.
Theintroduction of body cameras to the police force would certainly helpin substantiating their claims. While this suggestion has been withintense criticism, one only needs to look at the case of Walter Scottwho was shot dead by a police officer in the city of NorthCharlestone, the State of North Carolina. In the incident, Scott ranaway from the officer yet the latter proceeded to shoot oblivious ofa bystander recording the events. Had there been no witness recordingthis incident, it would have been extremely hard, almost impossible,to ascertain the exact happenings. However, with body cameras inplace it would not be as hard bystanders will not be everywhere thepolice go.
Inaddition to the provision of the cameras, there is a need for thepolice chiefs to embark on a mission to ensure there is cohesionbetween officers and the communities they protect. It is suggestedthat an interaction between the police and the people in theirsurroundings ought to happen often. These suggestions are informed bythe fact that police do have negative perception toward certainracial groups. For instance, it has been claimed that the popular‘Stop and Frisk’ law is normally applied selectively by thepolice. While these assertions could be termed as sensational, theyare, sadly, supported by the statistics released by the variouspolice departments including the New York Police Department (NYPD).For instance in 2011, over 350,000 black people endured theStop-and-Frisk process Latinos were 223,000 but only 61,000 Whites.Interestingly, despite these stops, only 6% resulted in arrests andonly 2% of the stops resulted in finding contraband (Centerfor Constitutional Rights, 2015).
Evidently,it is vitally important for introduction of police reforms that willencourage and boost the cohesion between these communities as it isclear misconception is at the center of these incidents. Themisconception on the police part could be catalyzed by the number ofblack people currently incarcerated. As of 2008, the total number ofincarcerated Americans stood at 2.3 million, but a whopping 1 millionof these were African-American. Together with the Hispanics, thenumber hit the 58% mark despite the two accounting for only a quarterof the total US population (Centerfor Constitutional Rights, 2015).It seems these statistics seem to fuel the police perception towardthese two races.
Theamendment of the ‘Qualified immunity’ ought to be initiated asit is clear some police officers abuse their powers, but stillsucceed to camouflage under personal security guise. A case thatclearly proves this point to be true is the shooting of Miriam Careywho was shot by the Secret Service. According to the police, Careymade a U-turn at the security check near Capitol House before hittingone of their cars. The chase started and the agents kept on shootingand eventually, the mother of one died (Collins, 2014). In contrast,Omar J. Gonzalez entered the White House wielding a knife, but thefate was quite different. Even though Carey was unarmed, unlikeGonzalez, the agents sprayed bullets on the former, but did notreplicate the scenario in the case of Gonzalez.
Thesecret service agents that shot and killed Carey cited security asthe reason for their actions, and because of the ‘qualifiedimmunity’ cannot easily face charges. It is important, though, tounderstand that this doctrine was not necessarily meant to protectthe police and other state officers. In fact, one can sue any stateofficer if there are reasons and evidence that prove violation of thelaw (Lockwoodand Wyant, 2013).However, the complications come when the actions of the police arenot easy to prove despite their fatality. Consequently, it isimportant that the police reforms start by amending this doctrine tocontrol the abuse.
Incorporationof other independent and outside members in the internal affairs forthe police departments ought to happen. The internal affairsdepartment in the police is tasked with the investigations touchingon the misconduct of a police officer. However, Lockwoodand Wyant (2013) contestedthat there is no assurance this department can remain impartial orunbiased in its work since it is part of the police. Several policereports in the past have confirmed this assertion to be somewhatfactual.
Inthe case of Walter Scott there were some discrepancies on the reportsreleased by the police boss in the region. First, the accusedofficer, Michale Slager claimed that Scott snatched the Taser, butthe video released later showed that there was not even a scuffle.Secondly, the police chiefs claimed the officer performed a CPR onthe suspect, but the video did not confirm the claims. Having othermembers in these departments would help in ensuring there is abalance, and that no cover-up occurs in the police.
Inconclusion, the United States has to address this ominous issue withcourage and decisiveness as it threatens to dismantle theincomparable image America has so much worked hard to achieve. Whileno one would dispute the vital role the police play in maintaininglaw and order, this duty ought to be exercised within theconfinements of the law. Thus, this paper proposes that severalreforms be undertaken including the inclusion of outsiders when apolice officer is facing criminal charges especially the ones aboutshooting civilians for misdemeanors. In addition, the body cameraswill significantly help in collecting evidence, and this will benefiteven the police themselves. Were it not for the civilian who recordedthe Michael Slager incident obtaining evidence would have remained anuphill task. Cohesion has to be embraced by the police force to alterthe thinking that one or two particular races commit more crimes thanothers.
Centerfor Constitutional Rights,. (2015). Report:Racial Disparity in NYPD Stop and Frisks
Centerfor Constitutional Rights.Retrieved 3 May 2015, fromhttp://ccrjustice.org/learn-more/reports/report%3A-racial-disparity-nypd-stop-and-frisks
Collins,D. (2015). FreddieGray: Don`t trust the 1% with police reform:
TheGuardian.Retrieved 3 May 2015, fromhttp://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/01/dont-let-the-1-determine-police-reform-for-the-99
Lockwood,B., & Wyant, B. (2013). Who cares who protects us? Therelationship between type
ofpolice coverage and citizen satisfaction with the police. PolicePractice And Research,15(6),461-465.