Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Excessive Force Essay

Excessive Force Essay

Excessive force has been a controversial subject among the police force. There have been many cases in the past where officers were able to use excessive force and not get penalized for their actions. However in the situation that is discussed, this is not the case; the officers were caught red-handed and thus received the proper punishment. Some unanswered questions arose after viewing the video, and are followed by suggested answers. New technological advancements offer different avenues in getting evidence, specifically footage on tape, and provide ways to which the problem of excessive force can be corrected.

In the video clip, a police chase occurred in the city of Miami on highway I-95. The county police were in pursuit of a fleeing felon who was suspected to be an accomplice to an armed robbery. The man led police on twenty-mile hunt and possibly waved a gun at an officer who tried to stop him. The suspect then jumped from the vehicle and hopped over a fence where three officers cornered him after he had stopped running. One police officer tackled him to the ground, and proceeded to restrain the suspect by sitting on his back. What followed was quite alarming; a defendant of the law began to punch him in the back of his head while the other two officers kicked the suspect multiple times in the head and the mid-area.

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After watching the video two successive times, I would be inclined to judge that excessive force was used on the suspected felon. To make matters even worse, the subject was still being victimized at the end of the chase. At this point the defendant stopped running and gave up, and thus he was not a threat anymore. Despite waiving the white towel, the three police officers, which are specially trained in many areas, were still unable to control their rage. If the suspect still had been a threat, the officers at that point would resort to physical force or deadly force, and are trained to deal with such situations as aforementioned. Because he was not a threat, they should have just hand cuffed him and arrested him like any other criminal, but instead they continued to take their anger out on him through the use of excessive force. These actions are what is of issue and poses unanswered questions as to our law enforcement.

One question that comes to mind is what separates civilians from specially trained officers when the officers react barbarically? The answer is not clear because officers have an authoritative rank and training in our society, which makes their actions appear even worse than the criminal. This hypocrisy is evident because violence is what officers are supposed to be protecting society from, instead of being the cause of it. The police officers are not given the right to punish a person following an arrest, therefore they can only follow the laws carved out for them which society dictates.

Another unanswered question arose from watching the video involving both the rank and integrity of the police force. When dealing with a fleeing felon that put civilians, friends, and other officers in danger, would the punishment be more lenient or harsh for a police officer that has committed the same offense. I think that the officers’ superiors would defend their fellow officers and ultimately be more lenient. Due to past experiences and their dedication to the department, being more lenient would make the problem fade away much more efficiently. The officers support that every person at some point loses control and in my opinion the possible outcome of this case would be defined that the felon gets a slap on the wrist and the officers get reprimanded and put back on the force because of the support of fellow officers.

Many changes can be brought about around the issue of excessive force. Technological innovations such as the appalling footage captured by the news crew in the helicopter can bring about many changes for police officers worldwide. One effect is that it could bring about more training for high stress situations, and by doing so it helps officers in keeping their composure when dealing with dangerous criminals.

Being a police officer comes with specific responsibilities and duties in certain situation for which one does not have the time to think but only to react. An officer is trained to make a decision that could change things forever. If the wrong decision is made, an officer should be punished and evaluated on how serious the offence is due to their training and status in society. Ultimately, with better training for these types of situations, the problem of excessive force can move towards being solved.

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