In recent years, police actions, particularly police abuse, has come into view of a wide, public and critical eye. While citizens worry about protecting themselves from criminals, it has now been shown that they must also keep a watchful eye on those who are supposed to protect and serve. This paper will discuss the types of police abuse prevalent today, including the use of firearms and receipt of private information. I will also discuss what and how citizens' rights are taken advantage of by police. For these problems, solutions will be discussed, focusing on political reform, education, and citizen review boards. These measures are necessary to protect ourselves from police taking advantage of their positions as law enforcement officers with greater permissive rights than private citizens. Because of this significant differential, all citizens must take affirmative action from physical brutality, rights violations, and information abuse.
Problems arise, however, when one side is told what to do by another, as there is bound to be conflicting viewpoints. In regard to police abuse, there will be many officers who feel that their job of fighting escalating street crime, gangs, narcotics violations, and other violent crimes is difficult already, and that worrying about excessive policy for abusive behavior will only further decrease their ability to fight crime effectively, efficiently, and safely. Citizens, however, have been caught up in this gung-ho attitude, and police are more and more often crossing the line of investigation and interrogation with abusive behavior. This abuse must be monitored so that police do not forget who they are serving--not themselves, but the public. This means that even the criminals, who are a part of the public, have certain rights, particularly, civil rights. All citizens must be aware of these rights to protect themselves against over-aggressive officers who take advantage of their position as badge and gun holders to intimidate and abuse civilians for personal or departmental goals.
Such conflicts have significant implications on departmental and administrative policy procedures. One of the main police abuse problems is physical brutality. The main goal here should be to get the police departments to adopt and enforce a written policy governing the use of physical force. The policy should restrict physical force to the narrowest possible range of specific situations. For example, their should be limitations on the use of hand-to-hand combat, batons, mace, stun guns, and firearms. However, limiting polices' actions will bring much debate, especially from police officers and administrators themselves. Many feel that their firepower is already too weak to battle the weapons criminals have on the streets, and limiting their legality of gun use will not only endanger them, but the innocent bystanders who must endure the hierarchy gunpower creates in the benefit of criminals.
For instance, not only should officers use brutality in very limited situations, to help curtail unwarranted use, but policies should require officers to file a written report after any use of physical force, regardless of how seemingly insignificant. That report should then be automatically reviewed by superior officers. It is necessary to involve superior officers so that a tolerance of brutality is not established, and an atmosphere conducive to police abuse is not created. Police may feel that such action would be burdensome. This is so because police often already feel burdened and restrained by policy and paperwork which takes a large amount of their on-duty time. When will police be required to do paperwork on how long and what was done during each coffee break to ensure tax payers are getting their every seconds worth? There must be a reasonable balance between civilian intervention and administration. Although, if every incidence of police abuse was...
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