Identify a Challenge or Area of Improvement within Law Enforcement
Law enforcement involves a career setting that is diverse in both opportunities and personnel. Law enforcement officers are tasked with maintaining public order. At the same time, they have a splendid chance to interact with citizens, recognize and solve problems, as well as create a positive impact in the communities they serve. However, this zeal to serve causes police officers to cross the line and behave in ways deemed dangerous to the society. In fact, the law enforcement industry has come under heavy scrutiny due to the increasing cases of police misconduct.
Police misconduct consists of the illegal and unethical practices or the violation of peoples’ constitutional rights by officers, in the line of duty (Kane & White, 2013). This could be in the form of police brutality, fraud, coercion, torture to make confessions, abuse of power and sexual assault. Based on the police misconduct statistics collected during the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, at least 1% of all police officers are involved in misconduct every year.
Police brutality, which represents the most apparent form of misconduct, has been in existence since the inception of law enforcement (Kane & White, 2013). In 1999, police officers shot and brutally killed Amadou Diallo, who was an immigrant from Guinea. The police are said to have fired 41 times into Diallo’s apartment only because they thought Diallo to be armed. More recently, two police officers are reported to have fatally shot a man, who was threatening his mother with a screwdriver. During the incident that happened in Queens, the officers freed the mother, then fired twice at the man for refusing to drop the weapon (Rosenberg & Piccoli, 2017).
Law enforcement officers have been justifying their actions for their hostile actions towards citizens. On their part, they claim that a career in law enforcement threatens their physical, emotional and psychological health. When faced with overwhelming feelings of anxiety, fear or helplessness, police officers act irrationally. Moreover, the increase in illegal possession of guns has heightened the situation. A law enforcement officer is never sure whether a particular suspect is armed or unarmed.
However, these are not valid enough grounds for justifying the brutality practiced by police officers. In fact, if the problem is not addressed, innocent and defenseless people will continue falling prey to pitiless officers. Police misconduct results in internal and external effects (Stanford, 2015). Recently, police misconduct cases have been making headlines. The problem with these primetime scandals is that they reflect a black eye to the law enforcement officer, who maintains integrity and refrains from any actions that could be construed as misconduct.
Externally, police misconduct cases hurt the economy. Victims of police brutality often sue the officers at fault. Lawsuits cost thousands of dollars, and there is no guarantee of either party winning the case. If a police officer is forced to pay a settlement, the cost is not incurred by the police officer at fault, but by the city of the police department (Stanford, 2015). What this means is that taxpayers shoulder the expenses of police brutality scandals. In one instance, the Cleveland City of the police department had to pay a $6 million-dollar settlement to Tamir’s estate. Tamir Rice, 12, was shot dead at a playground for brandishing a toy pistol.
The rising number of police misconduct cases is sufficient evidence that the problem is yet to be addressed. One solution that could help combat police brutality involves taking the millions spent in settlement of lawsuits from the at-fault police budgets rather than the innocent taxpayers. If the police departments held their own purse strings, they would learn to protect citizens’ lives and not endanger them.
Kane, R. J., & White, M. D. (2013). Jammed up: Bad cops, police misconduct, and the New York City Police Department. New York: New York University Press.
Rosenberg, E. & Piccoli, S. (2017). Police Officers Fatally Shoot a Man Threatening His Mother With a Screwdriver in Queens. The New York Times.
Stanford, A. (2015). Copping out: The consequences of police corruption and misconduct.