Cops Batter Innocent Americans


The shocking extents to which police brutality can reach was detailed in an article by Time magazine in 1991, one of the first times police brutality began to become a large public debate. In the article “Police Brutality!”, Time looked at several cases of gross injustice by police departments across the country. On one case in particular, the article states: “The police said they subdued King because he reached into his pocket as he emerged from the car, a movement they felt was menacing. Yet the videotape shows the man lying helpless on the ground as the officers repeatedly beat and kicked him. One eyewitness said that she heard King begging the policemen to stop and that they “were all laughing, like they just had a party.” When King was released from jail three days later, he told reporters he was “lucky they didn’t kill me.”

Time quotes sociologist Jack Katz, of UCLA, as saying the corruption within the Los Angeles police department in particular was due to “a kind of organizational egocentrism.” This correlates with the idea that, at least partly, the culture of law enforcement is, by default, an aggressive and forceful environment.

An article from the Baltimore Chronicle showed the shocking increase in police brutality across the United States, and noted that even the UN released a report on police brutality in the United States entitled “In the Shadows of the War on Terror: Persistent Police Brutality and Abuse of People of Color in the United States.”

My hypothesis is that police brutality comes about because of the personality and emotional instabilities of the individuals themselves. These personality features are, I believe, compounded by the culture of law enforcement which is, by default, an aggressive and forceful environment.


From this, it seems that the personality of police officers tends to veer towards a domineering, intimidating aspect. This is likely because of a strong tendency to overcompensate for a personal insecurity.

The same event in Los Angeles which Time magazine covered was also referenced in an article in the New York Times called “Police Brutality, Public Trust.” This article looked at the corruption that police departments were being accused of, and in addition referenced a case in New York during which “…the suspect, Federico Pereira, died after the officers pulled him from a stolen car in which he was sleeping. The officers told police investigators that Mr. Pereira, apparently under the influence of drugs, struggled violently and they used force necessary to subdue him. He died, they speculated, of a drug overdose.”

The widespread occurrence of misuse of force by police officers is a concerning problem, especially when we consider that they are the ones which should be controlling, not contributing to, the suppression of deviant behavior on the street. This begs the question: does the presence of police officers, or do their actions, in any way contribute to crime itself? With the amount of corruption and personal aggression that has been documented in the ranks, there is ample room for further exploration on this subject.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *