Police Vs Citizens: Possible Solution?(Essay #2)
We as citizens expect people who work for the community to do their job properly without and discrimination and bring us satisfying results. In terms of the authorities, there is a huge, burning issue with their discriminating actions towards certain racial groups. How can we look for justice and help from these “peace officers” when they treat some citizens with disrespect and injustice? If you follow any basic media-based platforms regarding racial groups, you have heard of this evident issue of police officers mistreating racial groups, especially the black community, leading to unrightful harm, harassment, and even in some extreme cases, death by police officer.
There have been several widespread cases regarding unrightful police actions towards African American people who have been shot and killed. Sean Bell, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Walter Scott are just some of the most popular cases that involved officers fatally shooting or wrongfully arrest that led to the death of African American men who were unarmed. One of the most known cases was Eric Garner who was killed by two police officers via illegal chokehold. This event was recorded by bystanders and led to the help of dealing with these wrongful actions. The reason for suspicion was that Garner was selling illegal cigarettes. When Garner’s body was examined, the death was ruled homicide due to his neck and chest being compressed. Even though the officers involved took wrongful actions, they were not charged with a crime and were just put on modified duty and stripped of their gun and badge. Instead of putting all the blame in the “men in blue” assaulting Garner, they put partial blame on Garner for his “poor health and his refusal to cooperate with officers.”
When cases like these occur, it is very common for the officers involved in these assaults to not be charged with a crime and to just be put on modified duty or leave. This led to many protest from organizations such as Black Lives Matter who seek to inform the world that there is evident mistreatment towards African American citizens and changes need to be made. When regarding the officer’s side of the story, their excuse for their actions were that they “feared for their own safety” or “thought that the victim was reaching for something.” This argument has been challenged greatly since there have been many cases in which officers went for aggressive actions towards people they suspect of taking part in illegal, nonviolent actions.
There have been many protest and wide spread media platforms that try to inform people about this issue and give ways that this issue of discrimination can be changed through participation by both parties. An example is a paper written by Tracey Meares called “Policing and Procedural Justice: Shaping Citizen’s Identities to Increase Democratic Participation.” Hamilton gives background on the justice system and a theory that can change the way people react with police officers. The centerpiece of that theory is that people are motivated to comply with the law, cooperate with authorities, and engage with them when they are treated fairly (Meares, 2017). It is very simple psychology that we will cooperate and be more respectful when we feel like we are given the equal amount of respect we deserve. The theory also explains how citizens need explanations and cooperation from the officers to explain the reasons for either decisions by the authorities so that they can determine for themselves if they are “acting without bias and consistent with policies derived from understandable and shared objectives.” The theory also explains how “people look for authorities to acknowledge their needs and concerns.” This means that they feel like the officers being involved should genuinely care for the citizens and will do whatever in their power to give them rightful satisfaction.
In my opinion, if these theories were put into action, the violence from police officers would gradually decrease. This is due to the simple fact that we like to be treated as equals even though they have authority over us. We are all human and a one on one interaction should have equal respect for each other if they expect cooperation. This would be the most effective solution since the whole reason for protest is because minorities do not feel like they are being treated equally. If people gradually see police officers being respectful as if they were talking to peers or close ones, they will most likely feel respected which will slowly decrease the stereotype of police officers treating people like dirt.
Since there are always two sides to a coin, some may argue that the citizens are the ones that should be changing their actions not only the officers. In reality, for change to happen, both parties need to cooperate and want change to progress as one. Both the police officers and the citizens involved need to be able to look into each other’s perspective and empathize towards one another. One side of the coin could be going through a traumatizing event while the other side is being cautious since they could be put in danger at any moment. This imbalance in both party’s’ mental state plays a role in their actions but the two need to remember to cooperate and show each other that they are there for each other. The officers are there to bring justice for the citizen in need of help and the citizen is there to help lead the officer in the right direction so they can do whatever they possibly can within their power to make the situation so as smooth and safe as possible.
If these policies and actions are established and used in every case, it will result in more cooperation and less uses of violence due to resisting of arrest or cooperation since these are the main reasons that cases go violent in the first place. If these actions take place, citizens will most likely empathize towards of the officers when they are reassured that the officers are doing whatever they can to bring true justice to the community. This will lead to a greater bond between citizens and authorities and reduce the amount of unjust actions. Even though we are in the 21st century, it will bring us a step closer to have equal opportunities and equal respect towards certain racial groups who have experience this discriminatory actions for decades. (1064 words)
Susman, D. F. (2016, July 12). From Ferguson to Baton Rouge: Deaths of black men and women at the hands of police. Retrieved September 23, 2017, from
New York Amsterdam News Vol.91 Issue 14. (2000, April 06). Wanton police violence against Blacks and recent acquittals of officers ignites nationwide economic campaign against injustice. Retrieved September 23, 2017.
Meares, T. (2017). POLICING AND PROCEDURAL JUSTICE: SHAPING CITIZENS’ IDENTITIES TO INCREASE DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION. Northwestern University Law Review, 111(6), 1525–1536.. Retrieved September 29, 2017.