Police Brutality

Essay by lcobb001College, UndergraduateA-, April 2007

download word file, 6 pages 2.0

Police brutality is a fact of American life. In most major cities across the country, officers abuse their authority in the most flagrant ways. New York City and Los Angeles are the most notorious for police brutality cases. In New York, when mayor Rudolph Giuliani took office in 1994, he instituted a "zero tolerance" policy, the theory that allowing small crimes to pass unpunished will encourage disrespect for the law in larger matters. This led to a huge increase in arrests for small crimes like playing music too loudly, biking on the sidewalk, and public drinking (Progressive). New York city has managed to bring down the murder rate from 2,200 in 1992 to 600 in 1998 (Economist), but some officers got the idea that it was ok to rough people up - especially people of color (Progressive). New York officers began to search people, pretty much at random and often with little cause, on the streets, in housing estates, and in apartment blocks.

Street Crime Unit's records show that officers searched 45,000 people and arrested 9,500 in the past two years, but according to the state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, police under-report their searches, and the actual number is probably five or ten times that amount (Economist). Many of the people kicked or beaten by police were not criminal suspects but people who had simply questioned the authority of the officers or had minor disagreements with them. Nearly all victims in the cases of deaths in custody and police shootings were from racial minorities, particularly African Americans, Latinos, and Asians. Los Angeles had a unit called Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums, or C.R.A.S.H., formed in the late 1970's. Officers patrolled the Ramparts section of Los Angeles, a low-income area with a large immigrant population and a home to...