A growing concern in America is the unnecessary use of force police officers use on the innocent or those in their custody. The role of the police officer carries both power and authority and the abuse of that power and authority raises issues society must face. This paper discusses the problem of officers who use unnecessary force, what managers and executives are doing to deal with this problem and the ethical dilemmas associated with the use of excessive or unjustified force on the police department.
Law enforcement agencies and the laws in which they uphold have been shaped by a number of historical antecedents and philosophical perspectives according to Frank Schmalleger. The Old and New Testaments, religious practices, early Roman law, English common law, and our nations Constitution have shaped today’s law enforcement agencies and agents (Schmalleger, 2002). The role of police in today’s society has changed from the days of the Old Testament and early Roman law as society has changed tremendously. M.L. Dantzer claims that few can realize or appreciate the manifold duties of the police officer. To the majority of individuals the officer is just a nuisance to be endured and even among our courts a general attitude of disfavor is often found. The services law enforcement agents perform are great and their labor is full of interest and yet rarely among specialists, is full credit given to the position. (Dantzker, 2003). The actions of law enforcement agents are usually honorable as they risk their lives daily to keep peace and order in this chaotic society. Unfortunately, the duties of law enforcement agents often involve the use of force as we live in a violent and unruly country. Although the majority of law enforcement agents perform their duties within the guidelines of the department, every year the few ‘bad apples’ disgrace the badge, uniform, and department by abusing suspects for no apparent reason what so ever or using excessive force while making an arrest. As the duties of law enforcement agents are to serve and protect, the use of violence appears inconsistent and repulsive to the viewer. Law enforcement officers are entitled to use force as it is reasonably necessary under the circumstances to make a lawful arrest. Law enforcement agents play a vital role in the protection of the right to life, liberty, and the security of persons and must administer justice with their safety in mind. The Bureau of Justice Statistics states that the legal test of excessive force is whether the police officer reasonably believed that such force was necessary to accomplish a legitimate police purpose. The courts have categorized force into three categories: reasonably amount of force, unnecessary use of force, and excessive amount of force (DOJ, 2005). The affects of excessive or unnecessary use of force are far reaching and often time irreversible. An officer or group of officers who commit such crimes while on or off duty make the job of each police officer and department more difficult. The department and officers are seen as untrustworthy. The community no longer wants to cooperate with officers who abuse their authority and the way the community perceives the department has been changed forever. The illegal conduct of police officers not only cause a loss of community support, but a loss of criminal cases as juries no longer trust the law enforcement agents, and a financial loss as law suits follow the incident rather rapidly. Once the bonds of trust are broken the police are unable to complete their duties as once before. These bonds are broken among minorities more than any other group in America according to Samuel Walker. The research for his book, The Color of Justice, has proven that minorities are victims of crime and victims of police officers use of unnecessary or excessive force more often than whites. African Americans...