Police Misconduct: Examples of the Unlawful Abuse of Power
Police officers hold a lot of power as enforcers of the law. They are expected to wield this power responsibly, setting aside any personal biases and prejudice when performing their duties. This point, in particular, is becoming an important topic of discourse considering the large-scale, nationwide protests against police misconduct.
In May 2015, The Washington Post came out with data sourced from interviews, police reports, and local news account regarding occurrences of police misconduct all over the country. Based on their findings, it was found that there had been 385 fatal shootings by police at the time of the survey. One in every six of these fatalities involved individuals that were either unarmed or where carrying a toy gun. In the same report, The Washington Post established that, in terms of race, black Americans were killed at thrice the rate of fatalities for whites and other minorities. Similarly, it was found that a quarter of the shooting fatalities were known to be mentally ill.
These fatal shootings involving unarmed individuals are an example of police brutality, which is just one of the many kinds of illegal and unethical practices that some officers take part in. Police brutality encompasses the use of intimidation and verbal abuse, as well as the use of excessive force. That certain minorities are more likely to fall victim to these instances of police brutality is another example of officer misconduct. Police discrimination includes racial profiling.
Other common cases of police misconduct include sexual harassment, wrongful arrests and detention, and denying suspects from receiving emergency medical care. According to Evans Moore, LLC, all these instances are recognized by the law as explicit violations of civil rights and liberties. Committing acts of police misconduct can leave officers vulnerable to disciplinary action, as well as both civil and criminal legal action.