Essay Sample on Police Abuse: Can the Violence be Contained

Published: 2023-03-21
Essay Sample on Police Abuse: Can the Violence be Contained
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Violence Police brutality Social issue
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1852 words
16 min read

Racialized police abuse is not a new issue. There have been social movements recently that have re-positioned police abuse as a focus of public address. Despite the discourse, the occurrences of the violence have not been reduced since the number of victims of the police brutality has been escalating (Obasogie & Newman, 2017). Without adequate and proper research and legal reforms, this daily crisis will continue to affect many civilians. Effective interventions that are designed mainly to shift police violence or deadly engagements are highly needed. Despite the many proposed strategies to address police violence, there is no explicit discussion that fully engages the primary factor of abuse or the accountability of the force policies. The policies are meant to govern the level as well as the type of force that the police is permitted to use against citizens. The aim of this paper is to investigate the police abuse, and then explore whether the violence and brutality can be contained. To do so, an extensive literature review is conducted on the matter.

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Literature Review

There is relatively sparse literature on the connection between police abuse as well as the usage of force policies. The current scholarship principally concentrates on the strong association between Supreme Court Fourth Amendment jurisdiction in US and usage of violence policies. Researchers have referred this as the case law that is exceptionally penurious and itemized that it only needs to be an overhauled. Lately, the non-profit movement, Campaign Zero, have made progress concerning the issue by creating substantial work that significantly inspects the connection between using violence policies and police abuse.

Firstly, the Police Use of Force Project from the Campaign Zero comprises reviewing the usage of force policies of the major urban police departments in the US and determines the rules police should abide by as well as whether the same systems thwart police violence. The authors have empirically evaluated the number of departments that integrate eight specific policies on the use of force. The eight policies comprise the rules that develop force scales and necessitate officers to arbitrate and avert other officers from using unwarranted force.

By using data tracking on the number of times the eight methods occur in department policies, the researchers study the relationship between restrictiveness of department policies and the possibility that officers in the specific departments use force on the civilians to the extent of killing. Their study revealed that every added restriction was linked to a 15% decrease in police abuse and that a middling department that had included three policies already would have 54% drop in killings of the civilians if all the systems were, they implemented (Obasogie & Newman, 2017). Their discoveries eventually advocate that a department with all eight policies would abuse 72% fewer people than one having less or none (Obasogie & Newman, 2017).

Secondly, another study was done by law professors Brandon Garrett, form the University of Virginia, and Seth Stoughton from the University of South Carolina. They then wrote a Tactical Fourth Amendment report, where the Virginia Law Review published it. The report mainly focused on comprehending the connection between Supreme Court case law and the usage of the force policies. The two authors encompass an empirical analysis of the utilisation of violence and force policies of the fifty biggest police departments, that shows that majority of these policies are flimsy and do not provide enough in containing the police violence. As a result of the failure of the strategies to give the police officers appropriate guidelines, the authors thus conclude that it is necessary to look for an updated as well as the transformed legal standards to have a tactical Fourth Amendment.

Furthermore, in 2011, scholars William, Eugene and Jason delivered a report that discussed the in length the police abuse and the force policies (Obasogie & Newman, 2017). Their study revealed the same results as those of Campaign Zero since they discovered that there is a broader extent regarding the force policies restrictiveness. They found that most of the systems showed the force continuum that was expressed in some ways. However, they were not able to give a standard and the best way to construct the right policy.

The three studies above reveal that a lot of the usage of the force policies fails to incorporate specificity as well as rigour needed in curbing police abuse. This study goes ahead to expand upon the discussed literature through the inclusion of more data and intensive content analysis. Firstly, the Department of Justice (DOJ) with its investigation on the Fergusson (Missouri) Police Department, recommends crucial suggestions regarding the usage of the police force. It suggests the reorientation to the de-escalation by the use of less authority and by total avoidance of the unnecessary usage of power, more training, improvement of the review as well as the reporting processes, as well as the identification of the disparities and the racial triggered abuses from police officers.

Secondly, the President's Task Force in the 21st Century Policing suggested the usage of the police abuse policies that were clear and fundamentally comprehensive (Obasogie & Newman, 2017). The task force included the emphasis regarding the usefulness of the de-escalation, life sanctity philosophy as well as the continuous training of do not shoot circumstances. The same suggestions were provided by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). The report given by PERF in 2012 discussed issues like slowing down episode to ensure perception issues do not escalate a situation.


The main aim of this paper is collecting data that will help us have an understanding of the police abuse extent and how they connect to the rights of the civilians. Having the data enable us to have the answers on the questions regarding what the force should contain, as well as knowing the best and preferable approaches to prevent police abuse and preservation of the civilians' lives. The research empirically scrutinizes and compare the usage of police force policies employing content analysis. There is an online database that is hosted by Campaign Zero, which contains the data of the utilization of force policies from various big cities in the US. Campaign Zero emphasized the beneficial policies and expounded on the manner the policies were encompassed. The paper thus intends to conduct an in-depth content analysis which elaborates the police abuse situations. The content analysis will compare and contrast the police force policies to provide a comprehensive way in which the policies either restrict or grant the police power. The content analysis is also explicitly designed in a manner to reveal the subtle together with the plain techniques in which the policies incentivize as well as disincentive the behavior of the police officers in a given encounter.

Results and analysis

In the twenty-eight cities in the US, the use of the policies has lacked substance and profundity as far as conferring of guidance is concerned. The use of force by the police should be reasonable. The policies have been over-relying solely on the recitation of the primary legal standards on the engagements of the police without giving crucial protections for the civilians. The policies highly fail to provide the discussions of the utilitarian tactics as well as protections including force continua, de-escalation, alternative exhaustion, proportionality and the continuous reassessments. From the literature review and the content analysis of the data on police abuse in the Campaign Zero databases, the findings are highlighted and discussed below.

The Bare Minimum of Reasonableness

Every policy depended on the quantitatively reasonable standard that was elaborated by Graham. In the New York Police Department (NYPD) force policy, the philosophy used is that every situation, any assertion of force by the police is supposed to be reasonable within the existing circumstance. On its part, Fort Worth has a police abuse policy which states that the applied force must be reasonable whenever it is warranted and only legalized by law and an affirmative duty for the police. The policies in the cities cite the standards of reasonableness; however, they do not go beyond to give the police officers when and how to use this force.

Substantive Protection Negligence

All the police abuse policies surveyed have neglected the substantive protections. Firstly, the force continuum matrix of the policies is only 40% of the time; thus, it never includes neither the textual nor visual aids. As a result, one police might increase or decrease the force of action that leads to abuse, in relative the resistance he or she is involved in. For instance, the Chicago police department has a force policy which states that it uses a force model that offers direction on the right amount of force for law enforcement. More than 50% of the policies reviewed in this content analysis did not aid the officers to think on the force as a gamut on the line of its operation. Secondly, de-escalation information was only 50% of the time (Obasogie & Newman, 2017).

NYPD advocates that de-escalation is the scenario in which the police officer takes action to stabilize a situation, reducing the threat imminence. Furthermore, 30% of the alternatives exhaustion was found in the force policies (Obasogie & Newman, 2017). For instance, San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) has a policy on police violence that states that it is obliged to use the deadly force as the last resolution, only when there is an exhaustion of the reasonable alternatives. For the Seattle Police Department, the police officers are entitled to use physical force if the reasonable and effective alternative does not exist, and only when its degree is of effectiveness is within the confinements of the purpose of the law.

Discussion and Conclusions

Police abuse and violence can be effectively addressed by the degree of the force policies subjected to the police officers. The confinements of this study seek to advocate, from the findings discussed above, that the intervention, as well as reforms, are necessary at the earliest point possible within the policing process. Determining the rules and regulations that control the behaviour of the police officers is essential. The police abuse and violence can be a threat to the health of the citizens as it can cause killings of the civilians. Police abuse is largely enabled and facilitated by vague as well as unrestrictive policies that, as seen in the above findings, fails to include substantive text over mere legal citations and requirements. Intervention in the policing process can assist in the direct targeting of the key issues that cause police abuse and violence, and consequently, harmful health outcomes. The key issues comprise the inadequate policies that do not offer protection to the citizens sufficiently from any unnecessary violence which hurts the community. When the problematic policies that have been discussed above are targeted, there will be an effective shift in the existing paradigm regarding the new approaches that lower the frequency of police force and the force severity.

The qualitative data in this study gives a good picture of the current policies of curbing police abuse. We can see that it is very clear that these policies severely fail to offer substantive text for guiding the police officers on the manner of managing situations, by lowering the possible harm (Rudovsky, 1992).

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