The reality of police brutality


Sarah Kayali

The Ten-Point Program of the Black Panther Party, a self defense political organization, called for: freedom, full-employment, end to capitalist robbery, housing, education, universal-healthcare, end to police brutality, end to war, end to mass radicalized incarceration, and democratic control of modern-technologies.
Notably, police brutality makes it on these top 10 goals of the Black Panther Party. This is because police brutality is a serious problem we face in our everyday lives.
We have become so desensitized to police brutality. We see police brutality happening everyday on social media, TV, the radio, and for some people, in real life. People see videos of police brutality and keep scrolling through their feed as if it is no big deal. With top trends on social media including subjects like the famous egg, twerking, and thigh gaps, we have focused more on things that don’t really matter instead of focusing on real world problems.
So, what could we do and what would help stop police officers from shooting based on race? There have been many ideas that have been suggested to help stop this issue.
One recent psychology study titled “The Consequence of Race for Police Officers Responses to Criminal Suspects” talks about possible solutions to police brutality against black people. Specifically, split-second decisions on whether or not to shoot a suspect, have resulted in the death of many young innocent black lives.
The study revealed that police officers were more likely to mistakenly shoot when the suspect was Black than when the suspect was white. The research later develops to talk about how fewer shooting mistakes were made when police officers had more extensive training. The research then concludes by explaining how repeated exposure to stimuli that decorrelates guns and race can eliminate race bias.
It’s not about training officers to shoot or not to shoot. It’s about training and changing their entire mindset. The problem is that these officers associate violence with color. They see white as being peaceful and black as being violent.
“Paid leave,” like some officers have received after a shooting incident, isn’t going to solve the problem. Likewise, body cameras won’t solve or influence officers to behave in the ways we want them to either.
Police officers are supposed to be a symbol of security. They’re supposed to be someone we can trust. And although this does not apply to all police officers, some abuse the power they are given.
We must work with these officers step by step. Recently, Chicago established a consent decree. Under this, it restricts use of force and requires greater transparency. Complaints about officers will be tracked and will eventually allow the public to track those complaints online as well. When officers start getting complaints that risk them losing their job it prompts them to act in a way that makes them think twice before taking any action. Being able to think twice, even in that split-second, is a skill all police officers should have.
The consent decree is a step in the right direction. We must look closely at these incidents to be able to fix police brutality. By moving step by step we could possibly get rid of this brutality issue we face.
Graphic by Noah Robey.