Improved Disciplinary & Supervision Measures
If a police officer engages in the use of excessive force, or even deadly force, and there is no punishment, this sends the message to the rest of the department that the behavior is tolerated or even acceptable.
Instead, adequate supervision to identify police officers acting in inappropriate ways before that behavior gets out of control, as well as disciplinary measures to send the message that the behavior is unacceptable, are necessary to identify and reprimand police officers who are the most likely to use excessive or deadly force.
The use of such measures will also deter other officers from acting in the same manner, and it can also set the tone for the overall behavioral expectations of police officers in a department.
In other words, police departments should begin to lead by example, and that starts with enforcing the law for police officers in the same way that it would be for civilians.
Fatal Police Shootings Of Unarmed Black People Reveal Troubling Patterns
Demonstrators raise their arms and chant, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” in August 2014 as they protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.hide caption
Demonstrators raise their arms and chant, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” in August 2014 as they protest the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Ronell Foster was riding his bicycle through the hushed streets of Vallejo, Calif., one evening when a police officer noticed that the bike had no lights and that he was weaving in and out of traffic.
The officer, Ryan McMahon, went after Foster with lights flashing, siren blaring and the car’s spotlight pointed directly at him. Foster stopped. The pair exchanged words before Foster, who was on community supervision for a car theft conviction a month earlier, fled, eventually ditching the bicycle. McMahon caught up with Foster and jumped on top of him. The two struggled. McMahon, a rookie on the force, used a Taser on the father of two and struck him several times with his department-issued flashlight. Gunfire erupted seven shots total. When it was over, Foster, 33, lay dying in the bushes in a darkened courtyard near an apartment complex.
Ronell Foster was fatally shot by Vallejo, Calif., police Officer Ryan McMahon in 2018 after being stopped for riding his bicycle without a light. Foster was unarmed. Foster familyhide caption
A year later, he shot again.
Among NPR’s other findings:
What Training Do Police Undergo
The duration and type of training varies widely worldwide. Recruits in the United States spend significantly less time in police academies than those in most European countries. Basic U.S. training programs take twenty-one weeks on average, whereas similar European programs can last more than three years . In Finland and Norway, recruits study policing in national colleges, spending part of the time in an internship with local police, and earn degrees in criminal justice or related fields.
With hundreds of police academies, the United States lacks national standards for what recruits should learn. U.S. academies tend to emphasize technical skills rather than communication and restraint. According to a 2013 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report , academies on average spent the most timeseventy-one hourson firearm skills, compared with twenty-one hours on de-escalation training and crisis-intervention strategies. In Germany, firearms training focuses on how to avoid using force. Japanese officers are trained to use martial arts.
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Killings Of Black People In The Usa
On 25 May 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year old Black man, died after a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota kept his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
This horrific killing sparked widespread protests across the USA and beyond, calling for the officers involved to be held accountable and systemic change in policing more broadly.
Georges death came in the wake of a series of acts of racist violence against Black people that illustrates astounding levels of violence and discrimination. The police in the USA commit human rights violations at a shockingly frequent rate, particularly against racial and ethnic minorities, and especially Black people.
Protesters want the US justice system to be fundamentally reformed to end the deadly police violence that ravages communities of colour, particularly Black communities, across the country.
Stopping police abuses in the USA
Civil society organizations have long been calling for police reform in the USA. These critical steps could make everyone safer:
Do Officers Need More Training
A lawyer hired by Schultzs family told reporters that the Georgia Tech officer had overreacted. The officer shot the student because they either werent trained or they lost patience, L. Chris Stewart said in a news conference Monday.
Professor Haberfield, who provides leadership training to multiple agencies including the NYPD, said she would like to see more training given to police officers beyond the standard 15-17 weeks. She cited the example of Finland, where officers are trained for three years.
Some police departments use shoot, dont shoot simulators that plunge officers into realistic scenarios to sharpen their decision-making about when to fire their weapons.
Canterbury agreed that there needs to be more police training. But he said most police departments are understaffed and cant afford to pull officers off the streets for training.
Besides, suspects can be unpredictable, he said.
No training in the world will tell you what a person is going to do, Canterbury said. There is nothing in our oath of office that says a police officer should be shot or wounded. Police officers have a right to go home to their family as much as citizens do.
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Why Police Shoot People In The Back
The cellphone video of Kenosha Police officers shooting Jacob Blake multiple times in the back is yet another horrifying view of U.S. police in action. The officers use lethal force against a Black man who does not appear to be threatening harm to them or anyone else, as his children watch from inside the car. While the video does not show all the details, this shooting appears as callous as the police killings of George Floyd and countless other Black people.
While the video is shocking, it is also disturbingly familiar. Since officers killed Floyd on a Minneapolis street on May 25, sparking widespread protests demanding an end to the killings, accountability, and a reduction in funding and scope of policing, U.S. law enforcement officers have shot and killed at least 295 more people since that day.
In recent years, police have killed Black people at triple the rate of white people. The disproportion is even greater for unarmed Black people. This incident is reminiscent of Tulsa Police killing Terence Crutcher, who was unarmed, in 2016, as he stood by his SUV. In Crutchers case, the officer claimed to fear for her life because she thought he might reach for a gun in the car. There was no gun, but the excuse helped the officer who killed Crutcher win an acquittal. Law enforcement officials say they found a knife on the front floorboard of Blakes car, but he did not appear to be holding it when they shot him.
Why Do Us Police Keep Killing Unarmed Black Men
Recent high-profile cases of unarmed black men dying at the hands of the US police have sparked protests and civil unrest in several American cities.
Four expert witnesses talk to the BBC World Service Inquiry programme, including the head of President Obama’s taskforce on police reform, Charles Ramsey.
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When Does The Civil Rights Division Of The Us Justice Department Get Involved
The Department of Justice often has to be invited in by the state. In the Ahmaud Arbery case, the local prosecutor invited in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The Georgia Attorney General then asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the behavior of two district attorneys previously assigned to the case. The U.S. Department of Justice also was investigating whether the killing was a hate crime. In the George Floyd case, the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated to determine whether any federal civil rights laws were violated. The murder case is also being prosecuted at the state level similar to the Arbery case.
When Dylann Roof murdered nine parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, federal authorities brought hate crime charges. And this is important, because there are statesGeorgia, for instancethat dont have hate crime laws. If hate crime charges are going to be brought in the Arbery murder, they must be brought at the federal level. In Floyds case, hate crime charges could be brought on the state and/or federal levels.
More Examples Of Discrimination In Policing
LGBTI people around the world are subjected to routine harassment and abuse by police.
In 2017, for example, authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya unleashed a wave of attacks on people believed to be gay or lesbian. Dozens of gay men in Chechnya were abducted and tortured. Many were killed at secret detention sites.
In the Dominican Republic, sex workers, and especially trans women who are sex workers, face appalling abuse at the hands of police including rape, beatings and humiliation.
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From Rodney King To George Floyd: Reliving The Scars Of Police Violence
The murder trial of Derek Chauvin is at the center of a national reckoning on race and policing. But cycles of protests over systemic racism and policing are not new. We watched the trial with the families of Rodney King, Oscar Grant and Stephon Clark to see this moment in history through their eyes.
Since testimony began on March 29, at least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, with Black and Latino people representing more than half of the dead. As of Saturday, the average was more than three killings a day.
The deaths, culled by The New York Times from gun violence databases, news media accounts and law enforcement releases, offer a snapshot of policing in America in this moment. They testify not only to the danger and desperation that police officers confront daily, but also to the split-second choices and missteps by members of law enforcement that can escalate workaday arrests into fatalities.
They are the result of domestic violence calls, traffic stops gone awry, standoffs and chases. The victims often behave erratically, some suffering from mental illness, and the sight of anything resembling a weapon causes things to escalate quickly.
And their fallout has been wrenchingly familiar, from the graphic videos that so often emerge to the protests that so often descend into scuffles between law enforcement and demonstrators on streets filled with tear gas. Just as one community confronts one killing, another happens.
Progress At Local Levels
But some activists say that while plenty about police brutality in America remains bleak, progress is being steadily made on local levels that bode well for a different future. Sinyangwe and Keesee say that Floyds death and the ensuing protests were the catalysts for many implementations of reform that their organizations have been demanding for years. In Denver for instance, a program that allows 911 operators to dispatch mental health clinicians and paramedics to nonviolent incidents instead of police was launched last June. In the programs first six months, the new team responded to 748 incidents, none of which led to arrests or jail time the program will receive millions more in funding.
The program makes a lot of sense to Keesee, who spent 25 years with the Denver Police Department. There were thousands of calls I went on where I could tell you that I was not the right person for them I was not what they needed at the time, she says. But it was the only option at the time. And communities today are telling you that is no longer no longer an answer to what they need.
Keesee sees other signs of progress, like chokeholds being banned by many large police departments and body-cam footage generally being released faster than in years past.
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Why Are Black Men More Likely To Be Killed By Police
Weve talked a lot about racism in America over the past several years. It is a huge and complex issue that defies simple explanations or easy solutions. In the past few years, a lot of the conversation has revolved around race as an issue in police violence and the way that this problem gets ignored in our judicial system. The #BlackLivesMatter movement came into existence in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Travon Martin in Florida.
The Travon Martin story was well documented, and the media gave the case a lot of attention. A teenaged boy walking through a predominantly white neighborhood after buying a bottle of iced tea and a bag of skittles, was cornered and gunned down by a wannabe cop while he was walking back to his home. It seemed like a clear case of racial profiling and overly zealous neighborhood patrolling turned to murder but George Zimmerman was acquitted of charges and America woke up to a dimension of tragic judicial protection for those who kill black people in the name of law enforcement.
It was the very next summer when things took an even more ugly turn in the police killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager in Ferguson, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. Riots broke out with looting, burning buildings, and a summer of violence demanding action this time. It took six full years of judicial procedures to end up with the decision that officer Darren Wilson would not be charged with any crime.
Half Of People Killed By Police Have A Disability: Report
Almost half of the people who die at the hands of police have some kind of disability, according to a new report, as officers are often drawn into emergencies where urgent care may be more appropriate than lethal force.
The report, published by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a disability organization, proposes that while police interactions with minorities draw increasing scrutiny, disability and health considerations are still neglected in media coverage and law enforcement policy.
Police have become the default responders to mental health calls, write the authors, historian David Perry and disability expert Lawrence Carter-Long, who analyzed incidents from 2013 to 2015. They propose that people with psychiatric disabilities are presumed to be dangerous to themselves and others in police interactions.
The report wades directly into the racial debates over policing, noting that while coverage of police brutality cases has understandably focused on race, that lens can also obscure how disability also factors into police interactions.
Every crisis in this society, he says, always gets dumped right in front of the officer.
The report also cites the tragic example of Ethan Saylor, a 26-year-old with Down syndrome who was simply trying to spend a day at the movies when he was killed in 2013.
Ari Melber and Marti HauseNBC News
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Police Violence Is A Systemic Problem In The Us Not Simply Incidental And It Happens On A Scale Far Greater Than Other Wealthy Nations
There is no question that the number of police killings of civilians in the U.S. who are disproportionately Black and other people of color are the result of policies and practices that enable and even encourage police violence. Compared to police in other wealthy democracies, American police kill civilians at incredibly high rates:
The chart above compares the annual rates of police killings in each country, accounting for differences in population size. This is the most apples-to-apples comparison we can make with this data.1 But the total number of deaths at the hands of police is also worth seeing in comparison with other countries:
The sources for these charts are listed in the table below. For more statistics on police, arrests, and incarceration in the United States, see these other pages:
Report: Black People Are Still Killed By Police At A Higher Rate Than Other Groups
After all the attention the Black Lives Matter-led racial justice movement generated after George Floyds death in 2020, new data show that the number of Black people killed by police has actually increased over the last two years.
According to data collected by The Washington Post, police shot and killed at least 1,055 people nationwide last year, the most since the newspaper began tracking fatal shootings by officers in 2015. That is more than the 1,021 shootings in 2020 and the 999 in 2019.
Black people, who account for 13 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for 27 percent of those fatally shot and killed by police in 2021, according to Mapping Police Violence, a nonprofit group that tracks police shootings. That means Black people are twice as likely as white people to be shot and killed by police officers.
Its bad and its sad, but its not shocking that were still being killed at a higher rate, said Karundi Williams, the CEO of re:power, a national organization that trains Black people to become political leaders. When we have moments of racial injustice that is thrust in the national spotlight, there is an uptick of outrage, and people take to the streets. But then the media tends to move on to other things, and that consciousness decreases. But we never really got underneath the problem.
Williams said there is also an inherent foe that prevents widespread change.
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