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When government entities -- especially the police -- act without integrity, responsibility and without regard for peoples' rights, they lose credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of the people. Some of the best criminals work in law enforcement, and your fate lies in their hands. Do you think some cops really break the law? We know they do, and often.
Throughout the world people are being injured and even killed by police using excessive force or deliberately brutal treatment. Police officers are punching, kicking, beating and shooting people who pose no threat, or are causing serious injuries, and sometimes death, by misusing restraints, chemical sprays or electro-shock weapons. Most reported incidents take place during arrest, searches, traffic stops or in street incidents.
However, it is clear that these standards are frequently breached and that too often the authorities have turned a blind eye to abuses. Even the police who do their job professionally -and ethically don't turn their "buddies" in. This in turn condones their actions because nobody is held responsible.
A police officer acts with excessive force when he/she uses an amount of force with regards to a civilian that is more than necessary. No doubt Police officers are required to use force in some situations and sometimes deadly force. However, there are times when officers misuse their authority and injure someone without a justified reason. For example, take a situation where an officer stops an elderly gentleman for speeding. The officer asks the driver to get out of the car and while the driver opens the car door, the officer yanks him up from his seat and throws him against the car. This would be an example of excessive force. As there would be no need to cause injury to the driver of the car, the officer would be liable for using excessive force (here, liable means legally responsible in a court of law for damages that the driver suffers from officer’s abuse).
It is time that the US government took steps to end abusive practices by police and to make police forces more accountable. As a first step the authorities should establish effective independent bodies to monitor police use of force.
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Video tape shot by George Holliday Sunday morning in a suburb of Los Angeles shows what appears to be a group of police officers beating a man with nightsticks and kicking him as other officers look on. A copy of the tape was turned over to the police's Internal Affairs Division. Photo: © AP/Wide World