Police Brutality – A Maze of Statistics

What is Happening With Our Police?

We want to support them, we want to have faith in them, and yet time and again a video surfaces in which grave acts of violence are perpetrated against otherwise innocent victims.

  1. A video showing California Highway Patrol pointing guns at a young pregnant woman. She is obviously scared and confused. They don’t have patience and physically, violently throw her to the ground, knee her and hogtie her. Four additional patrolmen show up – 6 large gun wielding men, none of whom allow her to sit up even though she is handcuffed. At one point it looks as though one of them realizes they have screwed up because he checks and notes the video is playing, recording the events.
  2. A woman calls the police to report she has been in a fender bender in a parking lot. When the police arrive, the woman is arguing with her boyfriend. Immediately, the two officers order the pregnant woman to the ground and attack her pushing face down to the ground, and straddling her while tasering her. They punch her leg and continue to hold her. More police arrive and arrest her boyfriend, handcuffing him and taking him away. Meanwhile the woman remains on the ground. More police arrive – a total of five cars and a paddy wagon. The woman is charged with resisting arrest.
  3. A woman in Baltimore is stuck in traffic and witnesses police brutally beating a young man. She pulls out her camera and films the scene only to have one officer run over to her car, pull her out and beat her. Three additional officers joined the beating. They smashed her camera and threatened to have her two year old daughter taken away by DPS. A trial was set twice and none of the officers showed. The case against her was dropped, although there is no specific mention of what she was charged with.
  4. Two officers in Texas pin down a prostitute while a third beats her severely. They had a warrant to arrest her for prostitution. The Chief of Police claims the force was justified.
  5. A pregnant woman in Massachusetts called the police because she thought someone was breaking into her apartment. It turned out to be her boyfriend. But when she went to the door to let the police officer in and tell them it was a mistake, before she could even open the door all the way an officer shot through the door and the bullet hit her in the face shattering her jaw and lodging in her neck. At the time she was holding her two year old child.

What is the rationale? The claim is consistent, the officers felt threatened. But we know that isn’t true. Something quite different is happening. Police argue that they have the right to subdue a suspect however they see fit given the circumstances. But actually that isn’t the case:

  1. a citizen may deny a search of their car
  2. a citizen may object to any handling
  3. a citizen has the right to question racial motivation
  4. a citizen has the right to object vocally
  5. a citizen may deny entry of an officer without a warrant
  6. the use of excessive force is a violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments

Police state that crimes against a police officer are rising, when in fact they have been decreasing dramatically since the 1990’s. They claim that aggressive behavior is necessary in order to control a situation. And they claim that Taser use allows them to use ‘less force’.

In fact, none of these statements are true. The hypocrisy is evident. It would appear that every situation is met with aggression and an abundance of cops on the scene for what should be a minor incident. It would also appear that Taser use has risen dramatically, 1500% in the last several years, and is used ‘in conjunction with’ brutal force as opposed to – instead of.

Part of the hypocrisy is in profiling. In reality, profiling is a valuable tool. Somewhere along the line it became politically incorrect, but it offers information that can be used to deter criminal activity. We all profile to some extent. Sometimes we profile in the most inane ways:

“Oh no, I’m behind four women on the golf course, they are going to play slow”

“Oh no, a woman driver…”

“Oh no, that guy is big and scary looking, I’m going to cross the street”

We even use it in our idioms – ‘that guy is going ‘postal’ or, ‘he operates like a used car salesman’.

That’s profiling. It is a part of our society. Is it a bad thing? No. Neither is being judgemental. They both use statistical data to form an opinion.

Recently a friend was incensed when I commented about an Asian student excelling in school. I was accused of being judgemental. Really? I was stating a statistical fact. A judge in a courtroom uses evidence to make a decision and judgement. He is thus judgemental. He weighs the evidence and makes a decision. But when applied in real life, the person making a statement based on evidence and facts becomes ‘judgemental’ in a negative context. The assumption is that the person has no evidence and has no facts.

Police are there to defend us against bad guys. But more often than not, they are perpetrating violence themselves. That’s hypocritical. Domestic violence classes are supposed to teach people how to use their logic and verbal skills to deflate an argument, to diffuse aggressive behavior and to act in a civilized manner. Yet our police act aggressively, physically, and brutally. Why? Because they can.

Profiling; how many pregnant women have shot at a police officer? None. Ever.

In 2013, the FBI profiled the 27 police officers killed while on duty:

Circumstances: Of the 27 officers feloniously killed, six were killed in arrest situations, five were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances, five were ambushed, four were involved in tactical situations, four were answering disturbance calls, and two were conducting traffic pursuits/stops. One was conducting an investigative activity, such as surveillance, a search, or an interview.

Weapons: Offenders used firearms to kill 26 of the 27 victim officers. Of these 26 officers, 18 were slain with handguns, five with rifles, and three with shotguns. One officer was killed with a vehicle used as a weapon.

Regions: Fifteen of the felonious deaths occurred in the South, six in the West, four in the Midwest, and two in the Northeast.

Suspects: Law enforcement agencies identified 28 alleged assailants in connection with the felonious line-of-duty deaths. Twenty of the assailants had prior criminal arrests, and six of the offenders were under judicial supervision at the time of the felonious incidents.”

How many citizens were killed by police officers in 2013? Apparently, there is no data kept on this statistic by any government organization. However a fairly new website, killedbypolice.com, uses media reports to quantify the numbers. The organization started May of 2013, and between May and December accounted for 748 deaths attributable to police – both justifiably and not. In 2014, the number was 1100.

We want to believe in our police, we want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it is increasingly more and more difficult when the evidence continues to accumulate and their credibility becomes questionable.

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