Police Misconduct Research Paper

Words: 2480
Pages: 10

Jeremy Garcia
Ms. Berry
CE 2010
25 October 2016
Police Misconduct in The United States On March 3rd, 1991, Rodney King sped down a highway with police in hot pursuit. Eventually, Los Angeles police caught up with King and fired two tasers into his back, after he was decided to be resisting arrest. When that didn’t stop King from struggling, several LAPD officers ruthlessly beat him with batons. The scene was recorded by a bystander, and what the tape included proceeded to shock the world. After the four officers were acquitted for the beating a year later, riots broke out in Los Angeles that left 53 people dead and over a billion dollars in damage. The beating of Rodney King induced a widespread cynicism of police conduct, which continues
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Their purpose in society includes the use of force in certain situations. The beating of a citizen with a baton can absolutely be justified under certain situations, and shooting people in self defense or defense of other people in a life threatening situation is the right thing to do. This is why it’s important for police officers to practice good discretion. Discretion is defined as the freedom to decide what should be done in a certain situation. According to Police Misconduct in America: a Reference Handbook, written by Dean J. Champion: “Traditional police discretion is the exercise of decision making resulting from the confluence of factors that impinge upon officers from their formal police training, education, common sense, and split second interpretation and assessment of circumstances of their citizen encounters” (19). In policing, it means officers may choose to ignore minor offenses committed by citizens if they wish. An officer is not obligated to stop every jaywalker he sees, and often citizens will drive over the speed limit, and officers will not pull them over because the officer does not feel the situation is serious enough to be dealt with. This is an example of opportunity cost, or the cost of missing out on other options when one option is chosen. In this case, the police are prioritizing more serious matters over stopping someone in a hurry. There are mandatory discretionary policies sometimes instituted by particular departments, where an arrest/citation must be made depending under specific circumstances. These policies bypass for the most part the moral discretion that police officers use on a daily basis. Using the same speeding example used earlier, some police officers must follow mandates that require them to pull over any speeder, even if the citizen is driving just one mile per hour over the speed limit. Similar rules are pounded into police through their training regarding circumstances