December 9th, 2014
12:10 AM ET

How often are police indicted for excessive use of force?

The fact that police officers in Ferguson and New York have not been indicted for killing unarmed men has caused outrage across the country. It is not entirely clear how many people have been killed by police, but what is clear is that officers are rarely charged in these types of cases. Drew Griffin investigates.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is a former NYPD Captain. Anderson spoke with him about whether police should be investigated by local prosecutors.

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Filed under: Drew Griffin
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  1. highschoolactivist

    “To Protect and Serve.” In 1963, the Los Angeles Police Department adopted this motto in order to encompass the ideals of the department. Since then, many other departments around the nation have adopted the motto to express their duty to the American people. However, in recent months, the “protect” aspect of the motto has been put into question.

    On August 9th, 2014, Michael Brown, and unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by white police officer, Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. On November 24th, 2014, the grand jury decided not indict Officer Wilson, inciting protests that roiled the area for weeks.

    Due to lack of credible evidence and major discrepancies in the eyewitness accounts, it seems that the indictment was almost inevitable; there was simply not enough evidence to uncover the sequence of events that led to the untimely death of Michael Brown.

    However, this case signifies a much larger issue; the use of force by police officers has become a growing problem in the United States, leading to political, social, and cultural turmoil. We can attack this problem on three fronts: the individual, the departmental, and the Congressional.

    On the Individual-level, police officers need to receive special training, allowing them to interact with the community better and reduce the influence of pre-conceived notions on their actions. As a result, police officer will be able to have more meaningful and constructive interactions with members in their jurisdiction. Additionally, hiring a police force more representative of the ethnic groups in a department’s jurisdiction will build a more sensitive police force, and augment the quality of interactions between the police and the community.

    At the departmental-level, both police officers and the public have to push for more transparency. This would require the use of body cameras to ensure the availability of an unbiased account of the events in cases such as the one in Ferguson. The cameras will also be able to deter police officers from using deadly force, improving the relationship between the police and the public. Additionally, in cases where a police officer does use deadly force, and it is discovered that the officer violated protocol, the department must ensure that the officer is accountable for his or her actions and receives the proper punishment.

    Despite all these changes, the most lasting changes (we can hope) will come from Congress. As of now, it seems that Congress, especially the Republicans who will have control of both houses next year, are uninterested in preventing cases, like the Ferguson case, from proliferating in the United States. Instead, the Republicans are calling for action to ensure the proper resources are in place to handle the protests that result in the aftermath of these decisions. They are funding mine resistant, ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles in order to handle the violence after a verdict, and continue to provide police forces with more military-grade weapons, often times more than the state’s Coast Guard. Instead, of financing these projects, Congress should be financing projects that expand the use of body-cameras, and continue to pass legislation, like the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013, in order to increase transparency among police departments.

    Ultimately, the police are meant “to protect and serve” the people. If the people are afraid for their lives, and see the police as an occupying force rather than a peaceful mediator between society and the law, the interaction between the police and society will continue to degrade, leading to more unnecessary deaths.

    January 25, 2015 at 4:13 pm |
  2. pixelkingz

    Why do people think that good and bad cops can't coexist? Why don't that think some cops can't be racially biased and some can't be overly aggressive? Why don't they think that cops views can't mirror societies? People are crazy naive.

    December 9, 2014 at 11:20 am |
  3. barbarabozeman

    No life Is unimportant. What happened here is not a picture of police as a whole. That being said, how much of a "to do" is made about the thousands and thousands of police officers who saved someone, prevented something, protected someone – OR GAVE THEIR OWN LIFE IN IN SERVICE TO THEIR COMMUNITY and use THAT to characterize the police department as a whole? Not saying these allegations aren't true, but if this is the new model of conduct, then when a hoodlum assaults someone, should we find out where he or she lives a wide path of destruction on people and businesses that weren't involved?

    December 9, 2014 at 9:28 am |
  4. Ian Fregosi

    It would be refreshing to see an officer or a department admit to misconduct once in a while.

    December 9, 2014 at 12:33 am |

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