Ahmed Alawaidi, Bashar Alawaidi, Musallam Aul Alshahri, Janisha Booker, Abel Rodriguez
Michael Brown was an 18 year old black male, that was shot and killed in Missouri by a police officer. The bleeding corpse was left on the road for 4 hours in the afternoon, exposed to a very hot summer-sun. Within a year of this heartbreaking incident, at least “1,083 Americans have been killed by cops,” according to comprehensive data collected by VICE News. 499 of those Americans are in fact Black, which is around 47 percent of those deaths from six different ethnicities in the United States. This statistic shows how there are a lot of misconducts and racial performances from police officers, from in fact those whom we all rely our safety to. Although this incident occurred in Mississippi, there have been similar stories that occured in Omaha too.
Dating back hundreds of years, people of different races and cultures have been discriminated against. Omaha has had its own share of social issues. Although we appreciate all that the police officers do, some of their efforts to prevent situations are taken too far. Many of those situations or incidents that occurred in Omaha are causing social tension and are being spread throughout social media. Because of the extreme diversity in the U.S., it’s difficult to satisfy all of them with one statement or law.
One of these issues that Omaha’s facing is police brutality. There have been examples recorded by public showing how some police officers use excessive force against public. These recorded and occurring events affect the community in many ways including their lifestyle. In our paper, we discuss five essential points that have been fighting both police and public safety. We will discuss the discrimination police officers show and how social media has brought it to light. In addition, we will provide some solutions that could help in solving this issue.
Body worn cameras:
Body worn cameras among the law enforcement personnel, especially the policemen have been found to have significant impact on the overall culture and method of policing. There have been numerous examples of states and districts where this has been adopted as a mean to not only improve policing, but to also empower policemen to fight effectively against any misconduct or racial abuse that is thrown their way. There are also a lot of police misconduct incidents in Omaha such as the videos we have. Unfortunately, Omaha Police Department does not have a policy that requires police officers to wear body cameras to detect their misconducts, which is a big deal to both parties, police or public, that both parties may not have evidence to prove their innocence if one party is.
After observing a couple of videos on YouTube about police brutality in Omaha, there are some that are recorded far away from the incident, which is hard to decide who’s guilty, police or the suspected people. If we could require those body-worn cameras, it would be easier to deal with these kinds of issues. In addition, both police and public will keep this in mind and never manipulate a case, because there’s video surveillance that could be considered unjust.
Another side of the picture is, it will not only empower the law enforcement personals but it will also empower general public. Any policeman who will try to assert his power unnecessarily or conduct physical abuse on the people merely because of their ethnicity or the color of their skin will also be put to question with solid proves against him/her. The scope of improvement in policing by using these body worn cameras is immense and this process will be refined and better regulated. This will occur when more police agencies and law enforcement agencies adopt this modern technology.
The most important of all the messages that is conveyed by the deployment of body worn cameras is that the police departments makes its officers available for accountability to general public. The video recordings will be used as means to evaluate whether any misconduct is carried out by any officer or the other person is at fault while its altercation with the police officer. The deployment of these body worn cameras is not an easy project and cannot be implemented overnight.
The only factor involved in making this policy decision is not the expense that this project will have on the overall budget of the police department, but the numerous factors and constraints that must be dealt with in detail before a police department’s decision in favor of deploying these body worn cameras. The significance and importance of these cameras cannot be denied and they must be deployed at all costs. This is so the process of accountability of police officers becomes more transparent and scientific, but it can have disastrous results if they are deployed before making required legislation and defining concrete policies on how to use these cameras. Also on how to utilize its videos in a way that does not undermine the credibility and authority of the police department.
Public authority using personal cameras to record police misconduct:
Many communities have been using a camera to record police misconducts to show the fact that police brutality is occurring and is a concerning issue. For example, we can see many videos that present the police officer talking to someone on social media (Facebook or YouTube) and are recorded by the public. Sometimes, those conversations between the public and the officers have been brought to the court if the public wants their rights from police departments, the judge can look at those videos recorded to see the fact in issue. According to one of our videos that was recorded by the public, the video shows the level of brutality that the police has brought on the citizens. The public has the authority to record those situations, but there are some rules for using a camera to record police misconducts, so if you choose to record the police you can reduce the risk of terrible legal consequences and video loss by understanding your state’s laws and carefully adhering to the rules. We chose this kind of video, because it is very fitting to our research project, and also it presents the police brutality.
One scholar by the name Steve Silverman says in an article by originally appeared April 5, 2012, who is presenting the new information regarding recent rulings in favor of citizens’ right to record. The author shows several rules to the subject, for example, don’t point your camera like a gun that means, “When filming police you always want to avoid an aggressive posture,” insists Holmes. To do this he keeps his strap-supported camera close to his body at waist level. This way he can hold a conversation while maintaining eye contact with police, quickly glancing at the viewfinder to make sure he’s getting a good shot.”
Obviously, those recording with a smartphone lack this angled viewfinder. But you can get a satisfactory shot while holding your device at waist level, tilting it upward a few degrees. This posture might feel awkward at first, but it’s noticeably less confrontational than holding the camera between you and the officer’s face.
U.S. citizens’ rights:
Most people think that when they have more power than others they can use it against them to show they are able to control the situation. For example, the power between the teacher and the student, and also the power between the police officer and citizen. Sometimes we see police officers use his or her power against other people, not because they did something wrong, but because of personal excuses. When the police use their power against innocent people, these people claim their right.
We have collected our secondary data from YouTube videos. We chose this because it has a lot of examples of U.S. citizens’ rights. To analyze the secondary data we first we talked about the claim for each video. After that, we started to talk about the evidence in these videos. Lastly, we discussed what scholar say about them.
In Omaha, there was a woman who called the police department to help her with her child which was out of control. When the police came to help the women, the officer hurt the old lady by pushing her from her shoulder when she was asking him for help. Also, he pepper sprayed their faces using the excuse that the whole family was drunk. There was misunderstandings between the police and the women. The police thought that the old lady wanted to hurt him, so he pushed her from her shoulder, and also thought the old lady also was out of control.
What scholars say about this is that he did not use his power against the family. When the police officer saw the situation, in order to control it, he sprayed pepper spray in their faces. In addition, when the police officer hurt the old lady by pushing her from her shoulder, he didn’t mean to be so aggressive and thought maybe this lady was drunk. He just wanted to make sure she wasn’t drunk. Also, the police officer should apologize to the lady for his misconduct against her.
The second evidence about U.S. citizens’ rights was that the police officers asked a man to leave the sidewalk because there was a problem happening and he needed to step back from the situation. Then the police used his power to follow the man and told him to leave the place, because the man stood in front of the police officer and told him that it is a public sidewalk, the police used his power to follow him and told him to leave. He also told him that if he does not leave the road he would put him in jail. Here the police officer uses his power against the man to leave the road.
Scholars say that when the police officer asked the man to leave the sidewalk he also used his power to follow the man and tell him to leave the road in order for the police to control the situation that happened on that road. They don’t want too many people to get involved in the situation. There was a misunderstanding between the man and the police. But then when the police began to tell the man to leave the road and pushed him, he should react in a more polite way, not physically. In order to control the situation without involving innocent people the police should get rid of all people who are not involved in the situation.
Police authorities to use excessive force:
It has been seen in multiple instances that police authorities have used excessive force when it is not needed. The idea that police authorities have used excessive force has always been a controversial issue. Some people say it is necessary, given the situation. While others say there is never a need for excessive force unless there is a life on the line. In the videos seen it seems like the officers are using excessive force in attempting to control the situation, but there is also the citizen’s viewpoint as well.
Others can view police using excessive force differently. Some might even see it differently depending on their race. In some cases such as surveys, it is seen that Latinos and African Americans are the ones that have relatively low faith in the security provided by police officers. Many of them believe that police authority is likely to use excessive force, while on the other side, it is said that Americans of all races also have low faith in police officers. They believe officers have not been held accountable for their actions and misconduct. They also believe officers have not used the needed amount of force; instead they have abused that, as well as not treating racial and ethnic groups equally. With this information, it is said that there seems to be a sense of mistrust in every community.
Many people think it is necessary to eliminate that mistrust in communities. While some may agree that everything is under control and that the police authorities do their job. Excessive force might be needed in certain circumstances presented by the citizen. The way the officer reacts depends on the severity of the situation. It is to the police officers discretion to do whatever is needed to keep the majority safe.
Obeying police officers orders:
In America, it is known that an officer has authority in all situations to tell citizens what they are supposed to be doing. Some people would agree that it is not always orders one would like to abide by, but you listen anyways to avoid trouble. In the videos, everyone listened to what the authorities were ordering and in some cases they were still yelled at. Deciding whether to listen or not is a decision people have to make by themselves. Determining the outcome is something all authority figures have in their power and it is never known what they want to do.
Obeying officers orders are not always the easiest or most popular things to go by. Sometimes people do not want to listen and understand that they have a right as an American citizen to go against what they are saying like in the second video. The man continuously talks about how it is his right as a citizen to be there, being that it is public property. Some situations on the other hand are opposite of this and instead of officers continuously verbalizing their orders they decide to get physical. In the first video, after abiding by the officers demands he was chased by several officers and hit. This shows how different an outcome can be depending on the police officer and that it is not a known factor. Sometimes miscommunication between officers and citizens can also lead to police brutality, by them not expressing their orders correctly or as intently as they want. Like in the video where he is telling the man to stay on the sidewalk and when he does comply, he is still chased. To avoid this matter the police officer could have just asked him to leave and the situation could have been avoided.
Some scholars say that when citizens obey what the officers say it makes the outcome of the situation more positive. Which in some cases is the right way to go about the situation. Other scholars say it is all determined by the officer and also when an officer is obeyed they tend to feel more empowered which could be either a positive or negative outcome. Given this information it is never known what an officer will do, but best thing to do is listen and stay positive.
In conclusion, police brutality is an ongoing issue around the world. By bringing it to public attention and recording the incidents, it is making it more known. Using body cameras and public cameras, it can reduce the rate of police misconduct. This will allow police officers and citizens as well, to behave in better manners knowing they are recorded and are unable to lie about the situation to make their side better. This will show the real truth and show all sides making the convictions based off this evidence.