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Each coin has two sides, but which one prevails? Under the influence of societal views, the majority of the representatives of the general public tend to perceive police officers as a safeguarding force that gathers individuals who perform their duties to ensure that the country is safe and prevent civil disorder. They enforce the law, have any authority to arrest criminals and use force if needed, control aggressors, and risk their lives in order to protect the population and private property (Fisher 466). Recognizing their contribution, many people emphasize that it is vital to commend them. However, in some cases, these professionals can turn into a source of danger.
Rather often, situations occur when officers use force against unarmed individuals. Being affected by their work, police become aggressive and start abusing their power. As a result, they increase the prevalence of violence and racism instead of fighting with them (Zimny 91). Considering the existence of two diverse perceptions of police, it seems to be advantageous to discuss both of them and identify which side of the coin dominates in their case. Thus, this paper will try to reveal whether police officers should be commended for risking their lives to take on criminals or they are a part of larger societal problems with gun violence and racism.
Workplace violence is present in different spheres, but law enforcement officers (especially those who perform their duties in police) tend to be among the most vulnerable population. People of different professions may be feloniously or accidentally killed while performing their duties. Even typical delivery men can be murdered if they carry those goods that attract the attention of criminals. However, these situations do not frequently occur while those individuals who work for police regularly deal with suspicious people, interfere with family disturbances and crimes, participate in ambushes and raids, and make traffic stops (Edwards et al. 73).
As a result, aggression is often directed towards them, which affects their security. At the beginning of the 21st century, the number of death associated with these events increased significantly. While there were only 13 officers killed during ambushes in the last decade of the 20th century, recent research revealed 22 cases (Edwards et al. 76). In this way, the prevalence of workplace violence for police increases with the course of time. Nevertheless, people who start working in this sphere realize all associated dangers but are still willing to be employed as officers.
Deaths from Firearms
Firearms are an integral part of police officers’ lives, which puts them under a constant threat of being injured that must be appreciated by civilians. These professionals use weapons for protection, but they also often face occupational deaths because of them, as more than 90% of all fatal wounds are associated with firearms (Swidler et al. 37). Trying to protect officials and the representatives of the general public, officers often turn out to be engaged in the exchange of gunfire. When dealing with the other types of weapons, these professionals have an opportunity to win a fight due to their skills and strengths.
However, in the case of firearms, people’s personal characteristics become less critical. For instance, even the best officer in the state can be murdered by a child with a gun if he/she does not have any firearms and enough time to react to the situation. In this way, it is not surprising that almost 30% of officers die right at the scene (Swidler et al. 37). Therefore, it is impossible to notice that police continue using firearms due to their effectiveness, even though they are often seriously injured by these weapons.
Unfortunately, it often happens that police officers start abusing their powers and use firearms to hurt civilians. Under the influence of their personal characteristics and the peculiarities of their profession, officers reveal violence towards suspects and even their relatives. According to the previous research studies, 7-40% of spouses were physically abused by their partners (slapped and punched) (Goodmark 1190).
These data prove that many police officers turn out to be very aggressive and harm civilians instead of protecting them. Due to their powers, these individuals receive an opportunity to avoid any criminal charges for their actions. What is more critical, some officers kill their partners with a gun or use it to remind their spouses that they can terminate their lives if they refuse to obey (Goodmark 1183). In addition to relatives who are easy to control, professionals abuse powers while performing their duties to reach the desired outcome. In this way, police trigger the development of violence and contribute to crimes instead of dealing with them.
The issue of race discrimination is critical for the USA, but it turns out to be even more significant in the framework of police. Those cases when African American individuals are killed by European American officers even though they did not have any weapons attract much attention (Fan 874). The representatives of the black community often start protests in order to attract attention to such cases. In the framework of racist views, African Americans are often associated with criminals and are believed to belong to gangs. If officers share these ideas, they do not even try to consider a possibility that a black person can be innocent.
As a result, they use force to make people admit their guilt regardless of the real situation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were about 5,500 African Americans killed by police in 2000-2012, which is about 2/3 of all these victims (Fan 896). As the number of affected whites is significantly smaller, the presence of race discrimination can be supported. Therefore, it is possible to say that police are biased, and they fail to protect African Americans in the same manner as European Americans.
On the basis of the discussed information, I can conclude that police officers have both positive and negative influences on society. On the one hand, they protect the representatives of the general public, ensure their safety, and prevent civil disorder.
On the other hand, they may abuse their powers and increase the prevalence of violence and race discrimination. Analyzing existing evidence, I can state that even though some police officers are a part of societal problems with gun violence and racism, the majority of them should be commended for risking their lives to take on criminals. Personally, I believe that people who do not act professionally exist in every sphere. Nevertheless, I am convinced that those individuals who want to work for police are motivated by the desire to benefit others and make the world a better place.
Edwards, Randy, et al. “Violence against Authority: Management, Policy, And Research Implications.” International Journal of Management & Information Systems, vol. 19, no. 2, 2015, pp. 69-94.
Fan, Mary. “Violence and Police Diversity: A Call for Research.” Brigham Young University Law Review, vol. 4, 2015, pp. 875-914.
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Fisher, Laura, et al. “Incidence of Fatal Airway Obstruction in Police Officers Feloniously Killed in the Line of Duty: A 10-Year Retrospective Analysis.” Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, vol. 28, no. 5, 2013, pp. 466-470.
Goodmark, Leigh. “Hands Up at Home: Militarized Masculinity and Police Officers Who Commit Intimate Partner Abuse.” Brigham Young University Law Review, vol. 5, 2015, pp. 1183-1246.
Swidler, David, et al. “Occupational Homicide of Law Enforcement Officers in the US, 1996-2010.” Injury Prevention, vol. 20, no. 1, 2014, pp. 35-40.
Zimny, Kenneth. “Racial Attitudes of Police Recruits at the United States Midwest Police Academy: A Second Examination.” International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, vol. 10, no. 1, 2015, pp. 91-101.