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Police Brutality is Out of Control

August 24, 2014

The police have such a scary job, that they have to use deadly force at a moment’s notice. Except in Iceland, where the police have only killed one person, and they generally don’t even see the need to be armed.

Actually, the number of police officers killed each year has been going down over the last several years, but the number of people the police kill has been about the same. Fewer cops are now killed on the job than the last fifty years or so. The police do have a dangerous job, but it doesn’t always even make the cut for the top 10 most dangerous jobs.

But, at least the police are held accountable. Any police officer who kills someone without a good reason will be properly investigated and thrown into prison. Right? Actually, no. “Habitually brutal officers – usually a small percentage of officers on a force – may be the subject of repeated complaints but are usually protected by their fellow officers and by the shoddiness of internal police investigations. A victim seeking redress faces obstacles at every point in the process, ranging from overt intimidation to the reluctance of local and federal prosecutors to take on brutality cases. Severe abuses persist because overwhelming barriers to accountability make it all too likely that officers who commit human rights violations escape due punishment to continue their abusive conduct.”

Let’s consider an example. The Florida police decided to tie a 59 year old man to a chair, take his clothes off, put a hood over his head, and pepper spray him ten times over a period of several hours. The result is that he was tortured to death. Isn’t any of that illegal? I guess not. “The State Attorney’s office decided there was no wrongdoing, therefore the officers involved in the incident were never charged in the homicide.” Or for torture. Or for any of the other crimes I would think were involved.

There’s bad apples, but why aren’t they arrested or imprisoned? The so-called good cops protect them and shield them from accountability. There are some really good cops out there who really do arrest cops. Guess what happens to them? Well, this cop got harassed and stalked for it. “She has filed a lawsuit against over 100 cops named individually and over 200 that remain anonymous for their violations of the law and retributive actions against [her].” That’s a lot of so-called good cops that will do terrible things.

What should we do? Taking away guns from the police could help. Having independent investigations of police brutality could help. (We can’t expect the police to investigate other police officers properly.) Taking away unfair laws that give the police special advantages can help. Properly holding police officers accountable for their illegal conduct can help. Go here for a success story about making sure the police are held accountable.

The fact that Iceland has had so many fewer cases of police killings and police brutality should not be dismissed. They are doing something right. Let’s learn from their example. Their police force makes the American police force look like barbarians.

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