According to Newsday, approximately 200 Long Island police officers were charged with some sort of misconduct crime between 2008 and 2013. Out of those 200 officers who were officially charged with misconduct, 100 remain on the job.
Getting exact numbers on police brutality in New York City is difficult because there are laws in place to retain the confidentiality of police misconduct records. However, that does not suppress the fact that police brutality is real in New York City, and it is real around the country as well.
Breaking The Silence About Police Brutality
As we have seen from places like Ferguson and Baltimore, there is a tipping point when the people decide to push back in regards to police brutality. When there is an ongoing investigation into the shooting of an unarmed civilian, the population can sometimes get restless and start to take out their aggression on public property. Violence is never the answer in combating violence, but many people in the United States feel it is the only way their voices can be heard.
Despite the violence that gets international attention, the number of police brutality cases that actually get seen by the public is very small. While many people know about Ferguson, few know the story of Akai Gurley who was shot to death in a Brooklyn stairwell by a NYPD officer for no reason. The officer has been charged with murder, but the noticeable lack of public outrage is hard to ignore.
The Difference Between Now And Then
The biggest difference between police brutality now and police brutality just 20 years ago, is the changes in technology that have put video cameras in the hands of millions of people. When the Rodney King beating was video taped in 1991, it was unusual for people to have cameras with them when they were out attending to their normal business. But today, cameras are everywhere and police brutality is being caught on film.
In cases where the police are filing false reports and lying about their actions, the videos that show up regarding the events are contradicting these reports. In the past, there was nothing to use to show that a police officer was lying about an incident of police brutality. Now police misconduct can be caught on video, and the ongoing investigation can take a turn against the officer when the video is revealed.
What Is Brutality?
According to the ACLU, police brutality is the use of unnecessary physical or deadly force by a police officer. There have been situations where simply restraining a suspect would have been sufficient, but that suspect winds up being shot. Stories of simple traffic stops turning into cases of murder are also prevalent, and the accompanying video helps to show that an officer should be charged with murder.
The definition of police brutality has never changed, but it is difficult to tell if the frequency of brutality cases has changed over the years. Are more police officers trying to cover up their own misconduct through false reports and lying to district attorneys? Since actual data regarding police brutality is difficult to find, these are questions we may never get accurate answers to.
What Can You Do?
It is important to note that, even in New York City, the percentage of police officers who engage in acts of brutality is very low when compared to the entire police force. The statistics for Long Island do not necessarily represent the entire New York City area, nor are they indicative of what is going on around the country.
Citizens are encouraged to avoid getting into trouble and avoiding confrontations with the police as ways of steering clear of being a possible brutality statistic. If it is possible to capture police brutality on video, then that can help someone to prove their case against a rogue officer and get justice for the victim.
Police officers that are charged with murder or other crimes as a result of brutality cases are treated like any other criminal. The truth is that officers who utilize brutality should also be treated like criminals, which means gathering the necessary evidence to prove a case. The vast majority of police officers are still available to protect and serve the public. It is only a small percentage of police officers that breech the people’s trust and commit acts of police brutality.