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ragingloli's avatar

Would police brutality decrease if every action taken had to be justified?

Asked by ragingloli (34118 points ) May 5th, 2012

Would police brutality decrease if every action taken, every taser/bullet fired, every pepper spray used, had to be justified by the officer in question during an interrogation and in written form, and would be punished if the justification were not accepted after official review?
I think there need to be drastic consequences for actions for people with power.

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25 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Policing in general would certainly decrease, that’s for damn sure. Who would want to do it if every action had to be narrated and signed off? This sounds like a job for only masochists… and it’s sometimes not far from that already.

In addition, most police departments already have review boards for all shootings, whether or not any person was shot, and regardless of whether the person was even injured or killed. If the cop shoots, then his justification had better be a good one.

ETpro's avatar

A police officer’s job is dangerous enough as it is. Unnecessary brutality exists, and is unacceptable. But we don’t want to solve the problem and create 10 new problems to replace it.

Trillian's avatar

Not accepted by whom? With all the cuts that police departments are having to take, along with everyone else, who is going to follow each officer around asking questions, micro managing them? How many new jobs are being created here? How many man hours are the actual police going to have to spend each day “justifying” themselves? Who decides what constitutes adequate “justification”?
Doesn’t the dash cam cover a lot of that?

Bellatrix's avatar

I am concerned about the number of people being tasored or shot by police officers in circumstances that suggest such action could have been avoided. We have had a few cases in Australia recently.

I don’t think the threat of interrogation and an overload of paperwork is the answer though. I would be concerned that the implementation of such deterrents could also lead an officer, who does need to use their tasor/gun to second guess themselves and lead to a bigger problem in the long run. I am not a police officer and I have never been in this situation but I would imagine when faced with someone you think is dangerous, a clear head and excellent decision making skills would be required. They should be focused on the situation there and then, not what might happen later if they take action.

The answer I would think lies in better training for police officers both before they are sent out on the streets and on a regular, ongoing basis. Better psychological evaluations before they are recruited too perhaps. I understand why both of those options would be unpopular because of the difficulty in recruiting people anyway. Still, if you don’t have the right people in such jobs there are bound to be problems.

Symbeline's avatar

You use police brutality in the question, and in respect to that, probably, yeah. I’m sure police officer action is, indeed, investigated and all, especially for something serious, like a shooting. It was mentioned up above. But there’s probably a load of stuff that they get away with, that they shouldn’t be doing. Maybe it’s minor, but it’s still needless, and is still brutality. I’m sure major stuff goes unpunished, too. Probably that a lot of stuff goes unreported…and even if it does get reported, you might need a good lawyer, unless there’s millions of witnesses ready to cover. :/
So if absolutely everything did have to be justified in accordance to what a cop can or cannot do in whatever given situation, brutality would greatly diminish.
Although police brutality happens, most cops are peeps paying the rent like everyone else, so whether or not lots of them bend the rules or abuse power, the ones that do would stop, (or justify it if they can) if they still want their job.

Not really related, but I saw a documentary on the net a few days ago about the ten worst prisons in the world. Most are bad because of how prisoners get treated. One prison in Turkey even jails small kids, and they’re expected to get the same treatment as adults. Gah. Therefore, I also wonder how different prisons would be if wardens and guards had to justify themselves for what they do to inmates.

Just that example to say that, as far as people with authority goes, there’s probably a shitload of stuff that wouldn’t be happening if power was not abused. I also wonder if I’d own so many ketchup packets if I had to explain why I keep stealing them from my work place’s cafeteria. XD

wundayatta's avatar

Seems unlikely to me. Brutality is something people do in secret. You only document actions taken in public.

Symbeline's avatar

@wundayatta Yeah, but if they had to be explained? I think this is supposed to be hypothetical. :p

bewailknot's avatar

Seems to me that a lot of brutality is not just done in secret but is more of a “hands on” (or baton on) activity, so there would not be a use of resources needing to be justified.

wundayatta's avatar

@Symbeline What no one knows about need not be explained, even in a hypothetical that says they have to. You don’t know what happened, do you? You don’t even know anything happened.

Symbeline's avatar

Yeah but I don’t have to know anything in order for someone to explain themselves if it was somehow an obligation for them to explain everything they did, as what suggests this scenario. else I woulda mentioned that time I got arrested with this guy for trespassing on a construction site and he got a punch in the face from one of the cops haha

linguaphile's avatar

I agree with @Bellatrix about the psychological evaluations.

I was recently almost shot at by an overeager cop screaming at me even though I kept pointing to my ears and shaking my head to indicate that I was deaf—I also said repeatedly, “I can not hear.” (Funny, the dashboard cam disappeared in the process) This being a small town, I learned that this cop is brutal, over the top and completely masochistic and arrogant—it’s almost like he gets violence-orgasms on the job- it’s sick. A psych eval would take care of this bugger once and for all.

ETpro's avatar

@linguaphile It’s a sad fact that many a high school bully sees the Police Force as a perfect place to continue the bullying and beatings without fear of reprisals.

linguaphile's avatar

@ETpro Exactly. And small towns seem to have the a higher percentage of arrogant, bully cops—in the big city, they wouldn’t be as able to get away with terrorizing housewives and teenagers, then going home to guffaw about it.

flutherother's avatar

I have never seen or experienced police brutality of any sort other than what I have seen on television. The police here are well trained, polite and helpful and treated with some respect by the populace so this isn’t really an issue.

Bellatrix's avatar

@flutherother, how are the police armed over there now? In Australia, police officers carry hand guns and tasors. What about police officers in the UK?

flutherother's avatar

They just carry batons in Scotland though there is a pilot project with tasers just now in Strathclyde. I’m sure there are trained forearms officers on call if needed but they don’t routinely carry weapons in the streets.

Bellatrix's avatar

Is it the same in England? I wonder what sort of training UK police officers are given to deal with people who are high on drugs, aggressive etc? If they can manage and aren’t armed, why can’t our police officers manage without weapons? We have strong gun laws here in Australia now although the criminal element would be able to access weapons if they want them I am sure.

flutherother's avatar

It is much the same in England which has specially trained units that can use tasers if they are thought necessary but they don’t carry them routinely. Northern Ireland is different and police carry guns there.

ucme's avatar

Doesn’t happen here, more of a cry for attention amongst the criminal coward scum.
If you can’t handle it, then don’t dish it out.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I can’t speak for everywhere, but in my county, any time an officer fires a shot or uses his taser (and not all officers are issued tasers – you need special certification), the action is automatically investigated. As I understand it, some officers are less likely to do either (and therefore put themselves at greater risk) because they don’t want the hassle of being second guessed when their lives are on the line.

So I think that the concept of justification for every action is counterproductive and ultimately dangerous. We train policemen for 6–7 months and expect them to act properly. Sure, a few of them are bad apples, but the vast majority are fair and decent observers of the law.

Why put everyone at risk? Discipline the ones who need it, but don’t tie everyone’s hands behind their back.

GladysMensch's avatar

Police brutality will only disappear with the blue code of silence. I know, I know… the majority of police officers are upstanding and honorable. However, the entire force, hell, the entire profession is corrupt as long as these honorable and upstanding officers fail to call out the thugs within their departments.

john65pennington's avatar

In my department, each case, where a taser has been used or a weapon discharged, there is an IA review. That’s Internal Affairs. If the IA investigation is challenged, the case is investigated by the TBI or Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. If this is challenged, then the case goes to The Justice Department of The Federal Government. As you can see, there are investigative steps, for the protection of the public, in my police department. We have very strict rules and regulations to abide by.

For three years. I was part of our Chief’s investigative team or wrong doing by my fellow police officers. It was tough to have to sit and listen to some of the criminal acts these men and women had been involved in. I let the facts speak for themselves. We terminated many officers that should never have been police officers to begin with.

Since my Metro-Nashville Police Department was the very first in the nation, we had to set an example for the rest of the country to follow. This we did.

Six months polygraphs and random drug screening keeps our officers straight and inline.

I cannot speak for other smaller police departments.

john65pennington's avatar

I failed to mention this above, but my police department is one of only a few, that is accredited in the nation.

Strict guidlines must be met, in order for a department to be accredited. This includes complete investigative procedures must have been followed, when a taser or discharged firearm has been used.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@john65pennington – I was speaking of Gwinnett County GA where some of my family members are officers. Things are tight in this county.

woodcutter's avatar

Cops are like mechanics, doctors and any other trade professional. Not all of them are going to be good. Some are going to be better than others. Many situations go bad when a suspect wants to debate something with a cop…..

yeah…......don’t do that.

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