Police Brutality against African American Males in the United States
One of the primary ethical issues in criminal justice system in the United States relates to police conduct. It is the role of the police to ensure peaceful co-existence of the citizens through monitoring criminal activities, responding to emergences, making arrests and helping in investigations. It is clear that the roles played by the police help in creating a peaceful nation, but there are ethical issues that are associated with the police as they carry on with their activities. Ethical behavior in the police department is determined by the extent to which their actions affect the civilians, either positively or negatively.
In the recent years, the campaign against racial discrimination in the United States has been intensified by organizations such as human rights activists and religious unions as a way of enhancing national unity (Chaney & Robertson, 2013). However, the police department is yet to embrace the concept of equality for all as indicated by the conduct of police. There are numerous reports of police brutality as they deal with the civilians, mainly in the form of verbal and physical abuse. In addition, the brutality is linked to racial and gender bias ideologies where the African American males are perceived to be more likely to commit crimes. The brutally shows abuse of power by the officers and is likely to negatively affect the perception of the citizens towards the criminal justice system.
An event on police brutality against African American males
The African American males are the main victims of injustice in the country as they are discriminated against by the police. They are termed as more aggressive than the rest of the American population, a fact that makes them more violent and less likely to follow the law. Two years ago, a white police shot an unarmed black male aged 18 years for allegedly stealing cigarettes (Chaney & Robertson, 2013). The victim, Michael Brown, was accompanied by his friend to a shop in Fergusson, Missouri where the surveillance videos showed someone steal cigarettes. Upon notification, Darren Wilson, the police in charge of security in the shop identified Brown as the one who fit the description of the thief and proceeded to shoot him in the back. At the time of the shooting, Brown was unarmed and he had his hands held up in surrender but Wilson shot him anyway. The action by the police was unfair because Brown was not even given a chance to prove his innocence, but was brutally murdered. The incident is among the many cases where the police have used excessive physical force on individuals based on their gender and racial profiles.
Ethical issues involved
In an era of advanced information technology, news about injustice spread wide across the globe making it necessary for the officers involved to ensure they uphold professional ethics in their work. For criminal justice system to function efficiently there must be a harmonious cooperation between the police and the public, but this is impossible if the public loses trust in the police. Police brutality is among the primary unethical behaviors reported in the media in the recent years, especially involving black males (Chaney & Robertson, 2013). Consequently, the mistrust between the police and the public decreases making police work even harder as the public shy away from cooperating in criminal investigations.
The main ethical issues resulting from police brutality against the African American males are racial and gender bias. The professional ethics of the police department prohibits activities that show any form of discrimination be it gender, sexual orientation, racial, cultural, ethnic or religious backgrounds. The police are required to protect all the residents and accord all criminal cases the same level of professionalism without favor. However, the reality shows a different trend where the police treat the African American males with more brutality compared to the African American females and other people from the other races. The racial profile in the country makes it hard for the African Americans to access justice, especially the men. Gender bias that informs police decisions when dealing with the African Americans is unethical as it denies the individuals justice.
The gender and racial bias among the police mainly occur due to ideologies such as white supremacy that undermines the African Americans. The ideology holds the whites in high regard and thus unlikely to be involved in criminal activities compared to the blacks. The occupational culture in the police department is among the factors that promote racial and gender bias. It refers to the traditions and values that guide the conduct of police force. Although the police training discourages any form of discrimination, the culture that has existed since the colonial times promotes discrimination against the African Americans. The culture has been promoted by the fact that the criminal justice system does not deal with injustice cases against the African Americans as reported (Barak, Leighton & Cotton, 2014). This makes it difficult for the police department to end the ideology of white supremacy, leading to increased actions of brutality against the African Americans. Police brutality is also influenced by politics in the country that also undermine the African Americans. The media is a primary tool that spreads the political ideologies that undermine the character of African Americans through means such as adverts and movies. The media influences the negative perceptions that the police have against the African Americans.
Police brutality against the African American has adverse impacts on the efficiency of criminal justice system in the country. The brutality does not only affect the criminal justice system, but also the assaulted individuals as well as the entire African American race. The victims’ psychological and emotional health is likely to be negatively affected by the brutality leading to development of health complications such as chronic anxiety attacks. It affects the cooperation of the public with the police, a fact that makes criminal justice inefficient due to inaccuracy of investigations conducted. The individuals affected by the police brutality lose their confidence in the criminal justice system and are unwilling to report any criminal acts they encounter. Police brutality has been known to affect the confidence of the African American race in the criminal justice system, leading to increased incidents of unlawful actions. The brutality affects the image that society has on the police and may lead to their inability to interact freely with the citizens. The duty of the police is to protect all the residents against criminals regardless of their race and gender. It is thus crucial for the criminal justice authorities in the country to promote acceptable behavior among the police for efficiency.
Barak, G., Leighton, P., & Cotton, A. (2014). Class, race, gender, and crime: The social realities of justice in America. Rowman & Littlefield.
Chaney, C., & Robertson, R. V. (2013). Racism and police brutality in America. Journal of African American Studies, 17(4), 480-505.