Transparency in law enforcement is a hot topic across the nation. Various high-profile cases have exposed police brutality, corruption, and misconduct in recent years. The public response to these has varied, with many citizens demanding charges against law enforcement officers be made available to the public. Mistrust and a lack of respect have put many law enforcement officers and others in dangerous situations.
A law enforcement officer has the power to use force in situations that put them or the public in danger. Firing a weapon at a suspect who is not obeying orders and is threatening to shoot back is not police brutality. The problem arises when police officers use violence and excessive force in situations that could have been handled peacefully.
Cell phones, readily available in the pockets of most Americans, capture video and images that show instances both where police have been justified in their use of force and where they have abused their power. Beating someone on the ground who is not resisting arrest is a form of police brutality. Threatening harm or violence in situations where a suspect is not being aggressive is another form of misconduct. These situations become viral sensations on social media platforms and open widespread criticism and speculation.
There are ongoing arguments on the pros and cons of making police conduct records available to the public. On the one side, the public has a right to know how police officers, who are public servants, are enforcing the law, how many are abusing their power, and how much of their tax dollars are going to defend officers accused of brutality or misconduct. However, many argue that publicizing allegations of misconduct are inappropriate, where a full investigation has not occurred, or has not corroborated the allegations, or further polarize public opinion about law enforcement.
One thing is for sure; the court of public opinion can be brutal. Videos taken out of context, inaccurate information, and sensationalized news coverage fuel speculation, which can undermine the power that law enforcement officials have to serve and protect the public. However, when police officers brutalize, threaten, corrupt, or abuse those that they are charged with serving and protecting, justice must be served.
When law enforcement officers abuse their power, civilians suffer serious and fatal consequences. If you or someone you know has been a victim of police misconduct, the Pennsylvania civil rights lawyers at Williams Cedar can help you claim the justice you deserve. Call us at 215-557-0099 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, and we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas in Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and nationwide.