Police Misconduct

The Problem Facing Us Today

Executive Summary

This smore is meant to persuade our audience to take action on changing the way police misconduct is handled by informing them about the history of police misconduct, present-day examples, the government preventing police misconduct, what the future has in store for fighting crime, and how civilian oversight can be viewed as a solution.

Police misconduct has been a problem for many years. Police are human and humans have a tendency to lose their control sometimes.The media also tends to publicize only the negative events instead of positive occurrences. This furthers the mindset that every single police officer is a wrongdoer who will do whatever it takes to get the bad guy. The police misconduct statistics are astounding. There is a secret, unspoken rule that no officer will tell on the other one. We need regulations for police brutality so that peace can be restored to our society. Police are here to protect us and they need to do no more than that. You can help by being aware of your surroundings and monitoring your police force. Together, we can help prevent police misconduct.

The History of Policy Misconduct, A Look at the 60s

By: Kenneth Bonte

Police misconduct is a problem that is not only a current issue but has been an issue throughout time, specifically 50 years ago in the 1960s. The 1960s were a tumultuous time in the history of the United States. We were fighting a war that the public did not support and we had a civil rights movement stirring up the south. The police were a barely restricted force that was only really kept in check by the press. The photographs captured of events like the Kent State Massacre, the Democratic National Convention of 1968, and throughout the Birmingham Campaign.

The Kent State Massacre

College students at Kent State University gathered to protest the expansion of the Vietnam War to the campaign Cambodian front. They did so peaceably at first but then the protests became violent and resulted in the police shutting down the city for the night. The governor brought in the Ohio National Guard to help maintain the protesters in the future. May 4th the peaceful demonstration was called to a halt forcibly by the National Guard and the protestors retreated to a practice field. At the field there was a fight. “within 13 seconds, 61 to 67 shots were fired into the crowd killing 4 and wounding 9 students.” This is according to the Kent State department of Sociology’s paper on the Kent State Massacre. The university was shut down for the rest of the year in the aftermath of the event and covered the expenses of college for all the students for the rest of the time they attended the university. They offered counseling but no legal action occurred. The Nation Guardsmen were inconclusively investigated.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Ohio 1970 Kent State University

The Democratic National Convention of 1968

Protesters gathered around the hotel where the Democratic National Convention of 1968 to call for change in the Democratic Party’s policies towards civil rights as well as the Vietnam War. The police were amassed as well to defend the Democratic National Convention. According to an Eyewitness named Haynes Johnson who wrote an article for the Smithsonian about the event. “The amassed police took off their badges and unleashed tear gas on the crowd followed by the marching through the crowd with billy-clubs beating anyone in sight.” The effects of this event had national repercussions. The Democratic National Convention was so tense that the various candidates resorted to profane tangents to get their points across resulting in the party losing significant credibility with the populous. The Republican Party swooped in over the shambles of the Democratic Party and swept the last three elections with ease.

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The Birmingham Campaign

The Birmingham Campaign was a well organized campaign in Birmingham, Alabama to bring about civil reform pertaining to racial injustices of the time. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the head organizers of the peaceable protesting going on in Birmingham and he spearheaded a campaign to use African American students in protesting since they were too young to be arrested. During the multitude of protests going on, the police started to resort to brutality to end the string of sit ins and boycotts on certain public places. “During the next few days images of children being blasted by high-pressure fire hoses, clubbed by police officers, and attacked by police dogs appeared on television and in newspapers, triggering international outrage.” This is from the Stanford Encyclopedia article about the Birmingham Campaign. This caused public outrage which led to Whites only and blacks only signs throughout Birmingham were removed and segregation was helped along through new laws.

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Work Cited

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68g76j9VBvM youtube video of Ohio, a song about police brutality in application to the Kent State Massacre in the 1960s.

Lewis, Jerry M. "The May 4 Shootings At Kent State University." Historical Accuracy. Lewis University, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://dept.kent.edu/sociology/lewis/lewihen.htm>.

"Protests at Democratic National Convention in Chicago." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/protests-at-democratic-national-convention-in-chicago>.

Johnson, Haynes. "1968 Democratic Convention." Smithsonian. Smithsonian Magazine, Aug. 2008. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/1968-democratic-convention-931079/?no-ist>.

"Birmingham Campaign (1963)." Birmingham Campaign (1963). Stanford University Encyclodpedia, n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_birmingham_campaign/>.

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Present Day Police Misconduct- The Need for Change

By Dewey Bolton

Recent news of the death of Freddie Gray while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department and the subsequent protests and riots that have torn apart Baltimore have been all over the news. It seems all too common when one turns on the news, headlines abound of police misconduct and brutality, a terrifying issue that that unless quickly and effectively addressed will continue to adversely affect our country. Following Gray’s funeral on April 27th, what were previously peaceful gatherings protesting the Baltimore PD’s transgressions, transformed into full blown street riots that before ending, led to the arrest of 34 people, left 15 officers injured and caused millions of dollars in damage to private property across the city, according to CNN.com. The United States Department of Justice is currently investigating Gray's death. Unfortunately, Freddie’s death is just one of countless appalling examples of police misconduct in recent times.

Additional Reading on Freddie Gray's Death and the Baltimore Riots:



Another sad case of police misconduct, also occurred earlier this month. Walter Scott, a former Coast Guard veteran was mercilessly shot 9 times in the back while running away from a Michael Slager, a police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Both Slager and Scott are pictured below.

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What started out as a simple traffic violation, led to Slager tasing Scott while trying to run away and as soon as Scott got up, Slager shot and murdered the unarmed man. Slager attempted to cover up his mistake by radioing in to dispatch and claiming that Scott tried to take his taser and he only fired in self-defense. Slager also approached Scott’s corpse and dropped his taser next to the body to further back up his lies. Fortunately, a bystander was able to capture the entire murder on camera, which he later turned over to Scott’s family and the media which resulted in the arrest and indictment of Officer Michael Scott for first degree murder, a crime punishable by 30 years in prison to the death penalty in the state of South Carolina. The FBI and the United States Justice Department are still investigating Scott’s murder.

Cell Phone Footage Of Walter Scott Shooting Murder - Police Officer Kills Man RAW Footage

Another recent instance of police misconduct left a California woman scarred for life. Megan Sheehan, a model and bartender from San Francisco, California had a few too many drinks on St. Patrick's Day in 2014, according to Dailymail.co.uk. After her arrest and booking at the police station, Sheehan was restrained for being "uncooperative" according to police. While her hands were being held behind her back, Sheehan was taken to the ground, headfirst. Without any way to break her fall, Sheehan slammed into the concrete floor and broke the fall with her face. She lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital for medical treatment for her injuries including four broken cheek bones, a split molar, a cracked front tooth and heavy facial bruising. Earlier this year, Sheehan filed a civil suit against the city, claiming excessive force was used by the police. The police declined to comment on the case due to pending litigation. According to Sheehan's lawyer, it took her several months to recover physically and she is still recovering from the psychological trauma she endured at the hands of the police.

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We as citizens are in constant danger if we can't trust the police to "serve and protect" us, as they have been sworn in to do. Based on these recent examples, anyone at anytime could become the next headline on national news as the latest victim of police misconduct. Change is needed to prevent atrocities like these from happening in the future.

Works Cited

David, M. "Baltimore ‘Bloods’ and ‘Crips’ Call Truce and Unite To Fight Police Brutality." Counter Current News. N.p., 27 Apr. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <http://countercurrentnews.com/2015/04/baltimore-bloods-and-crips-call-truce/>.

Dailymail.com, Kelly Mclaughlin For. "The Moment Drunk Model Was Left Scarred for Life by Cops Who 'slammed' Her to the Ground Face-first after St Patrick's Day Party." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 26 Apr. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

"New Video Shows Arrest of Freddie Gray in Baltimore." YouTube. YouTube, 21 Apr. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YV0EtkWyno>.

Rector, Kevin. "Friends, Neighbors Say Freddie Gray Was a Well-liked Jokester Known to Police." Baltimoresun.com. N.p., 21 Apr. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-freddie-gray-profile-20150420-story.html#page=1>.

Yan, Holly. "Baltimore Protests Turn Violent; Police Injured - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network, 28 Apr. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015. <http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/27/us/baltimore-unrest/>.

Government Regulations Preventing Police Misconduct

By: Bailey Miller

Police misconduct, or brutality, has been receiving much attention in today’s news around the US; for our satisfaction, there are government regulations that help prevent police misconduct. “A Department of Justice study revealed that a whopping 84 percent of police officers report that they’ve seen colleagues use excessive force on civilians, and 61 percent admit they don’t always report ‘even serious criminal violations that involve abuse of authority by fellow officers’.” (The American Conservative) By government regulations and laws, officers are required to wear body cameras, recording all interactions with civilians. “Data-driven surveillance measures data such as implementing automated early detection systems and requiring audits and supervisory review also changes the structural context of neglect that often is identified as a contributing factor to abuses.” (Washington Law Review) Data-driven surveillance from body cameras and auditory recordings help keep an officer aware of his interactions and in control of his power and authority. “A 2012 study in Rialto, Calif. found that when officers were required to wear cameras recording all their interactions with citizens, “public complaints against officers plunged 88% compared with the previous 12 months. Officers’ use of force fell by 60%.” (The American Conservative) In the early 2000’s there were four important bills passed in prevention of police brutality. The bills included: a whistler blower program for police officers, a creation of an “automated early warning system that would monitor complaints and incidents” also “alerting departments to patterns of inappropriate behavior”, another bill that allows complaints from civilians to be stated over phone, email, or fax, and lastly, a bill that requires officers to take “refresher courses every three years instead of five, and to one consultation with a licensed mental health counselor”. (LA Times) According to The American Conservative, there are numerous reasons as to why police brutality is systemic. A few of these reasons include: “Many departments don’t provide adequate training for nonviolent situations; Standards from what constitutes police brutality vary widely; Consequences for misconduct are minimal; Police are increasingly militarized”. Lately in the news we’ve seen intense clips of dangerous riots and hatred against police officers. While we know police officers are only doing their job, we have also witnessed how some can take their power to another level, becoming out of hand and therefore losing trust of citizens. In these instances, deaths and extreme injuries have taken place. “Lawmakers in some states are moving to make investigations of police-involved killings more independent by requiring outside review or special prosecutors in such cases.” (US News: Wall Street Journal) In regarding new bills, there is discussion about drafting a bill that would “create a special prosecution unit to investigate officer-involved deaths, as well as some excessive force cases.” (US News: Wall Street Journal) A “special prosecution unit” would declare justice for citizens and officers, finding solutions in cases involving extreme measures such as death. In today’s society, this would be helpful. Trust needs to be rebuilt between the American people and police officers, and a mutual respect is crucial.

Works Cited:

Elinson, Zusha. "Police Reviews in Death Scrutinized." Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company Inc, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

Fan, Mary D. "Panopticism for Police." Washington Law Review, 1 Mar. 2012. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.

Kristian, Bonnie. "Seven Reasons Police Brutality Is Systemic, Not Anecdotal." The American Conservative. 2 July 2014. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

Morin, Monte. "4 Bills Passed to Curb Police Abuses." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 7 June 2003. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.

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The Future of Our Crime Rates, Lives and Tax Dollars

By: Hannah Claggett

Police misconduct is a very serious issue in our society. And the problem becomes worse when the actions of a few corrupt police officers lead the media and viewing public to label the whole police force as brutal and malicious. The future crime, lives, and tax dollars of our society depends on corrective actions taken against those officers who have overstepped their boundaries.

A future without laws correcting police misconduct will further the mindset that every single police officer is a violent law-breaker who will do anything it takes to get the bad guy. This negative label has caused a major decrease in applicants to almost all police departments in the United States. According to ABC News, “A decade ago, there were 3,000 applicants for 10 openings with the Seattle police….now there are 1,000 applicants for 70 positions — a drop of more than 90 percent.” If laws don’t stop police brutality, the future will be filled with more and more crime because less and less officers will continue to apply. The police officers who do apply, will probably have to use excessive force to control the population, continuing to create a bad reputation for all officers. This will create a vicious, never-ending cycle of crime and corruption.

Next, I’d like to tell you the story of Ms. Kathryn Johnston. She was a 92 year old woman who lived in Atlanta Georgia. One night, Atlanta narcotics officers burst into her home without warning. She shot a bullet toward them that went over their heads and into the wall. The police then open fired on her 39 times and 6 shots hit her and she died. There was no evidence of drugs and according to CNN News, “investigators found that the raid was prompted by falsified paperwork”. Innocent people die because of police misconduct and our laws against this misconduct will prevent another innocent citizen from being shot.

Another alarming statistic is the fact that, according to CBS New York, “Over the last decade, brutality lawsuits and other claims against the NYPD have cost the NYC taxpayers nearly $1 billion in settlements”. In the case of Ms. Johnston, the remedy was $4.9 million. That’s a lot of money that we as taxpayers are having to pay for the misconduct of these officers. I’m not saying that the families shouldn’t be reimbursed, they most certainly should. I’m just saying that we won’t have to pay for the misconduct remedies with the laws against police misconduct. If we aren’t having to reimburse these families because there aren’t any killings, our tax dollars can be used toward activities that will further our society, such as building new schools or fixing our highways.

According to NBC News, the former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg stated “I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world”. This statement should be comforting to US citizens. Instead, because of all of the recent police misconduct that has been in the news, this statement is very alarming and almost threatening. The future peace and coherence of our society depends on laws against police misconduct. With these laws in the future, the number of applicants to the police force will against begin to rise. With these laws in the future, innocent 92 year olds won’t be shot. With these laws in the future, our tax dollars will go toward bettering our society.

Works Cited

Calvi, Mary. "NYPD Paid Nearly $1 Billion to Settle Lawsuits." CBS New York. CBS Local Media, 24 Oct. 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/10/14/nypd-paid-nearly-1-billion-to-settle-lawsuits/>.

"Family of Woman Killed in Botched Drug Raid to Receive $4.9 Million." CNN. Cable News Network, 16 Aug. 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. <http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/08/16/georgia.botched.raid/>.

Libaw, Oliver Yates. "Police Face Severe Shortage of Recruits." ABC News. ABC News Internet Venture, 10 July 2014. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=96570>.

Russo, Melissa. "Bloomberg's "Own Army", "Smoked Up" Speech Raises Eyebrows." NBC New York. NBC Universal Media LLC, 2 Dec. 2011. Web. 21 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/michael-bloomberg-i-have-my-own-army-smoked-up-mit-134876818.html>.

What can be done to reduce and prevent police misconduct?

By Santos Solorzano

The reality is that police misconduct can be dealt with by understanding the psychology of police officers along with the bias of the court system and establishing civilian oversights on legal cases.

Before taking action to correctly oversee and handle police misconduct, we should first reflect on the current system when it comes to reviewing and investigating complaints and court cases. Preventing police misconduct begins by understanding how law enforcement officials police themselves and the judicial system is set up to work in their favor.

Although there are no official brotherhoods within police departments, one must suspect there exists a “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” norm when conducting internal investigations. According to Michael A. Long, et al., the “code of silence” is “a supposed occupational norm that precludes officers from exposing acts of misconduct to police administrators.” Michael A. Long, et al. also writes, “in exchange for turning a blind eye to misconduct…officers earn the trust of fellow officers and can expect to receive reciprocal protection.” In addition to this “code of silence,” there exists partiality in the judicial systems when it comes to responding to police misconduct cases. Tony Bialik writes, “What we’ve seen is that courts are just very reluctant to convict cops who are charged with crimes.” Robert P. McCulloch, whom some call a cop’s best friend, was the prosecutor in charge of the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri. Pema Levy writes, “His sympathies [McCulloch] for the cops run deep” seeing as his father, brother, nephew, cousin, and mother all had jobs with some connection to the police. Before the verdict was made, “The black community in Ferguson [was] bracing for McCulloch to let the officer who shot Brown go free, just as it [believed] he did with the two officers 14 years ago,” according to Pema Levy. In the aforementioned incident, McCulloch did not press any charges against the two officers that fired 21 shots on two unarmed black men at a Jack in the Box on June 12, 2000.

Civilian oversight has been met with resitance from various police departments

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Brawl Breaks Out At St. Louis City Hall Meeting Between Police And Civilians In Missouri(VIDEO)!!!
If you’re not yet sold on the idea of police brotherhood or partial prosecutors, let us look at a couple of instances that could have been aided through civilian oversight and the benefits of this form of review. According to Joel Miller, “‘Civilian oversight’ involves people from outside the police taking a role in calling the police to account for their actions, policies and organization.” Instead of allowing police officers to investigate themselves, the power should be placed in the hands of the public in order to keep this “code of silence” in check. In 1988, Office Craig Peyer murdered 20-year-old Cara Knott. Office Peyer made sexual advances towards Ms. Knott after stopping her for a traffic violation; she refused, so he killed her. There were also other women who filed complaints about Preyer’s actions and, according to an article by Laura Cordell, “the department’s internal investigations dismissed their complaints, finding in favor of Peyer.” In 1965, personal injury lawyer Sid Willens “tried to get justice for a client who’d been badly beaten while handcuffed… the [Kansas City] police department's internal investigation simply confirmed the officer's version of what happened,” according to an article by Martin Kaste. Similar incidents like the ones I just mentioned have probably been overlooked and swept under the rug due to absence of civilian oversights. In an article by Laura Cordell, she writes “The beauty of civilian oversight is that it holds police officers accountable to the public by providing independent review of complaints of police misconduct.” According to Joel Miller, we need political support, police cooperation, activist support, resources, management and leadership, and healthy public attitudes in order to successfully establish and sustain civilian oversight.

Works Cited, Santos Solorzano

  • Bialik, Carl. "An Ex-Cop Keeps The Country's Best Data Set On Police Misconduct." FiveThirtyEight. N.p., 22 Apr. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
  • Cordell, LaDoris Hazzard. "Policing the Police." Slate.com. N.p., 15 Aug. 2014. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
  • Kaste, Martin. "Police Are Learning To Accept Civilian Oversight, But Distrust Lingers." NPR. N.p., 21 Feb. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.
  • Levy, Pema. "Ferguson Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch's Long History of Siding With the Police; Deciding whether Michael Brown's killing was lawful depends on a prosecutor with a long history of siding with the police." Newsweek 12 Sept. 2014. Health Reference Center Academic. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.
  • Long, Michael, A., et al. "The Normative Order Of Reporting Police Misconduct: Examining The Roles Of Offense Seriousness, Legitimacy, And Fairness." Social Psychology Quarterly 76.3 (2013): 242-267. CINAHL Complete. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
  • Miller, Joel. Civilian Oversight of Policing: Lessons from the Literature. New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2002. Vera.org. Vera Institute of Justice, 5-8 May 2002. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.