Discussion On Whether Police Officers Have A Racial Motive Within The Black Community

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On seeing your own precious child die wrongfully in the hands of four racially motivated police officers, Loretta Prater started to feel fear and distrust against police officers. In “Excessive Use of Force: One Mothers Struggle against Police Brutality and Misconduct, ” Prater explained that she witnessed her son being “handcuffed, pepper-sprayed, hog tied, and held on the ground” even though he did not resist arrest. Her thirty-four year old son was “brutally beaten without reason or cause” even though he was not being a harm to others, which led her to lose her belief that police officers were supposed to protect the people. Her son was arrested because of his race and color. She never imagined that she would be one of the victims upon the immense amount of unjustified murder of black minorities by white police officers. Her son’s murder was ruled accidental by the head of police department, which infuriated her even more. As a heartsick mom, she did not want any colored families to go through such agony, she wanted the police department to be held accountable for her son’s death. Due to the fact that her son’s murder was ruled accidental, it shows that African Americans are not looked at as humans since the police department did not investigate into her son’s death. Prater believes that she deserves another investigation from a different police department to show that there was a racial motive or bias on her son’s murder. Since the department of justice has not said anything about the death of her son, including other murders of black minorities, this shows that police brutality has been degrading and stripping away basic human rights from black minorities.

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Police departments need to recruit obliging and sincere police officers rather than those with a racial motive by creating a stricter background check. Policemen should focus on solving the significant problems of crime and violence in minority neighborhoods by guiding minorities to make better choices, rather than relying on incarcerating or harming black minorities. This will help decrease the amount of crime and violence within minority neighborhoods, and help with the misconception that all police officers are racist and bad.

In “On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, ” Alice Goffman claimed heavily policed areas, especially in black neighborhoods, are creating a feeling of anger against police officers. Police officers have been creating obstacles for African Americans for the reason that they view the whole community as criminals. Goffman emphasizes the words, “on the run” and “caught up” to show that no matter how hard these young black men try to run away from the policeman, “their legal entanglements” will eventually lead them to being captured since the police officers’ main priority is to “hunt, capture, try, and confine”. African Americans are being chased down like animals. Using her experience as a sociologist, Goffman provides her observation on black participants named Mike and Chuck to get a better glimpse of the reality between police officers and the community. With the participant observation, she was able to collect enough evidence on how police officers have been treating black minorities unfairly such as police officers incarcerating Mike for just standing on the sidewalk. Mike was unarmed and was just waiting for his friend, but since he is African American, police officers assumed that he was a threat to them. They decided to harass and arrest him, all for just standing on the sidewalk. The harsh and cruel treatment that police officers are acting towards black minorities is very similar to how the Nazis were treating the Jewish. Jewish people were not seen as humans, but as toxic “things” that needed to be removed. Similarly, African Americans are not seen as humans in white police officer’s eyes but as “apes” that are constantly being handcuffed and put into jail.

In Themal Ellawala’s undergraduate research “Pulling the Trigger, ” he specifically uses the words “dehumanizing” to demonstrate that African Americans are being ripped away of their identity and how comparing the black community as “ape-like” are inflicting psychological injuries. The degradation of black minorities are causing an increase of violence, since they no longer wanted to be treated like animals. He also includes statistics such as 65% of black minorities are either being imprisoned or gunned down by white police officers annually to show that there is a racial motive upon their actions. Compared to other minorities such as Mexicans and Asians, their imprisonment is less than 30%. This shows that police officers are not handling their crimes well, and are not following standard rules to incarcerate. Knowing this, he wants the Department of Justice call for reforms in the law enforcement, so they can start reviewing the police officers’ files and to start investigating the imprisonments of African Americans to see whether the incarceration was for racial reasons. Furthermore, police officers are not there to protect the community as a whole but to protect themselves from the black community. Police officers fear that African Americans are a dangerous threat to the society similarly to Jewish people. By incarcerating African Americans, police officers feel that they have done their job in making the community “more safe”. This makes African Americans feel dehumanized and scared. It is not fair to African Americans that police officers are viewing them as “criminals” due to their high statistics of high crime. There is a 12% chance that the statistics that police officers rely on is not accurate at all.

In the “Essence of Innocence, ” Brooke Leone emphasizes on the words “frightening” to demonstrate that many families in the black community fear for each other’s safety when being confronted by the police since police officers do not care whether the colored person has committed a crime or not. The police officer’s main goal is to torment black minorities due to the statistics of high crime from specifically black minorities. Police officers believe that all African Americans are “criminals”, which makes black minorities abstain from calling 911 for help. Leone reference to multiple murders of black minorities such as Michael Brown and Trevor as evidence to show that even an unarmed young teenager is viewed as a “criminal” from police officers. This makes all police officers seem racially violent. To refrain this situation from repeating, Leone suggested future directions for higher authorities such as prosecutors and local lawmakers to create a more strict background check for police officers. She believes that creating a stricter background check for police officers during training will aid in decreasing misconduct and violence among the community since it will let the recruiter know if the policeman have a role in racial bias after he graduates.

On the contrary, police officers may not be racially motive. They are pressurized to show productivity to their police department, which is why they are incarcerating black minorities. Due to the fact that the statistics of crimes from black minorities are high, police officers creates a stereotype that black minorities are criminals which makes their job easier. It makes their job easier, since they stereotyped African Americans as criminals, they should mainly only focus on incarcerating them. Police officers have been relying on CompStat, which is a tool used within the police department to keep track of crimes within the community. William Bratton and Sean Malinowski explains in their article of “Police Performance Management in Practice, ” that CompStat led to “abusive police practices in the communities of color”. Relying on CompStat, the high statistics of crimes and violence from African Americans basically “encourages” the police officers to pass out citations and imprison black minorities more. By constantly passing out citations and incarcerating African Americans, police officers are not decreasing the statistics of crime and violence in the community, but increasing it. Bratton and Malinowski explains that if police officers weren’t relying on CompStat and were constantly pressurized to show productivity, then police brutality and misconduct towards African Americans would have decreased. CompStat should be reform to help bring back the “creativity at the heart of policing”. In order for the reformation to work, police departments need to admit that there was a problem with the way they are handling crimes. Malinowski asserted that losing trust and being furious at police officers are understandable, but “it does not mean that all policemen are bad people”.

Police officers are stuck in an impossible position since they are not given enough time to be able to look at the social problems within the community. Given such a short time frame, they “are only equipped with handcuffs and jail time”. This is not fair to both police officers and African Americans, prosecutors need to change how police work is being handled. They can change this by not enforcing strictly to police officers to show certain amount of productivity each month. The department of justice can also alter how CompStat is being used, and should find another way to better track the amount of violence and crimes within each community. In essence, starting an external police department audit to teach police officers not to judge the appearance of a person by color, will assist in decreasing crime and violence in the communities as a whole. Reforming CompStat will also change how police officers view black minorities. By focusing on what type of crimes are involved in the community, and not what race or color the person who committed the crime is, it will help them pay more attention to what they need to do to better protect the community. Further investigation on the violence and crimes within the minority community will help police officers find a way on how to decrease it. This will also aid in decreasing the misconception that there is a racial motive in all police work.

Overall, police work should not only be about protecting the community, but also bettering people’s choices. Guiding minorities will also help in lessening crimes in their community. Additionally, dehumanizing and incarcerating black minorities for no good reason is not only hurting the community, but hurting the victim’s families as well. African Americans should feel comfortable when they need to call a higher authority for help during emergencies. Police officers should focus on the social issues within the community rather than relying on handcuffs and jail time to show productivity in their work. It only does more harm to the black neighborhoods, and should be done differently such as focusing on the social issues. By contacting and raising awareness among higher authorities such as local lawmakers, prosecutors, and the department of justice, they can all work together to build a better environment for police officers to work in, and change the standards on how crimes should be handled.

15 July 2020

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