When one thinks of police misconduct many not too distant stories might go through our heads. Most adults will remember how they felt when they saw the brutal beating of Rodney King on their local news station; or the outrage they experienced when they heard that the evidence in the OJ Simpson trial had been tampered with. But thanks to new guidelines, procedures and even civilian groups who now “police” the police, instances of police misconduct may soon start seeing a decline.
In the past police misconduct was loosely defined, if at all. But with recent cases receiving so much news coverage legal definitions have been worked out. The term “police deviance” includes brutality, discrimination, sexual harassment, intimidation and illicit use of weapons (Barker and Carter, 1986). Another definition of police misconduct is when police officers violate:
1.formally written normative rules
2. traditional operating procedures
3.regulations and procedures of police and other public service agencies
4. criminal and civil laws
(Linch and Diamond, 1983)
Recently, an Inglewood police officer was captured on videotape slamming a sixteen-year old boy on the trunk of a squad car and punching him in the face even though the youngster was handcuffed. A year after the King atrocity, two white Detroit police officers bludgeoned Malice Green to death with their flashlights tearing off part of his scalp. Three years later, five foot five inch-one hundred forty five pound Johnny Gammage was pulled over while driving through a predominantly white Pittsburgh suburb, only to be choked and beaten to death after allegedly attacking five white police officers. In 1997, a New York City police officer rammed a stick from a toilet plunger six inches into the rectum of Abner Louima rupturing his intestines (Troutt 6). To make matters worse the officer stuck the soiled stick into the victim's mouth. Two years later, Amadou Diallo and former pro football player Demetrius DuBose were murdered by New York City and San Diego police respectively. Diallo was shot by four white plain-clothes officers while standing in the vestibule of his own Bronx apartment building. According to the officers upon approaching the building Diallo stepped back inside as if to hide. When Diallo reached into ...
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...e against Black Males: Aberrations or Everyday Occurrences
Amnesty International. California: Update on Police Brutality, 1999a.
Amnesty International. Police Brutality and Excessive Force in the New York City Police Department, 1999b.
Amnesty International. USA: Death by discrimination: Skin colour influences who lives. May 18, 1999c.
Perry, Tony. "Police Shooting Was Justified, D.A. Finds." Los Angeles Times. 2 November 1999, p. A3.
Troutt, David D. "Unreasonable and the Black Profile." Los Angeles Times. 5 March 2000, p.m6
Amnesty International.USA: POLICE BRUTALITY WIDESPREAD PROBLEM IN NEW YORK CITY,1996
Sotang and Barry. “Using settlements to measure police abuse”. The New York Times.
Sept. 17, 1997
Martin, Christine, Peter B. Bensinger, and Thomas F. Baker. Illinois Municipal Officers' Perceptions of Police Ethics. Chicago, Illinois: Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, 1994
Linch G., & Diamond, E. (1983) Police Misconduct. In Kadis, S. Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice. New York: The Free Press
Barker, T. & Carter, D. (1986) Police Deviance. Cincinnati: Pilgrimage. Hale, D.C.
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