26 October, 2016
Hello Mr. or Mrs President, first off I would like to both congratulate you on winning the election and thank you for reading my letter. My name is Daniel Woodrum, and I am a Junior in highschool. I am writing this so that I might contribute my two cents on the growing issue of police brutality in the United States. My interest in this topic was sparked by protests in my hometown; while these gatherings were peaceful and lawful it did cause concern as many other cities at the time were not. According to the American Conservative, there are a few major reasons for the growth in police brutality, the greatest and most easily solved of which is the lack of federal guidelines on both officer training and what constitutes excess force. Brutality is also affected by the increased armament of officers and racial profiling: the latter of which, however, is not a job for the federal government but rather the american people: so I will not be discussing it.
Discover Policing, a website designed for those seeking employment as a cop, explains to its readers that each state and jurisdiction has different training requirements. The United States does not have national laws about police training. This is a problem; as law enforcement is a government organization and should be regulated as such: not just by the states. The variance in police training creates holes in officer knowledge and understanding.
Police are given a lot of freedom to use their own discrepancy in reacting to any situation. This is a problem and can be abused by an officer. Ex cop William Terrill says “Excess is in the eyes of the beholder, To one officer ‘objectively reasonable’ means that if you don’t give me your license, I get to use soft hands, and in another town the same resistance means I can pull you through the car window, [or] I can tase you.” The lack of guidelines and policies for those in law enforcement creates problems when these agents are charged in court. According to a study reported by the USA Today, 95% of Police misconduct cases are declined by prosecutors. The lack of punishment for abusive police officers conditions them towards even more violence.
Officers are further conditioned by an increase in armaments. The use of SWAT teams has risen by 1500 percent. The increased weaponry has given rise to the term “Warrior Cop”. Radley Balko explains in his book by the same name that the powerful weaponry given to police is enough to conquer a small country. Even if a policeman does not attempt to use excess force the strength of his arsenal may cause him to.
The Federal government needs to pass legislation to add more structure in law enforcement. National requirements on education would give our officers the tools they need to perform their duties, and decrease misconducts due to ignorance. Laws implementing protocols for police would cause a more consistent reaction from them, preventing the abuse of power. These protocols would also make prosecution easier as the actions of the officer would not be up to interpretation. The militarization of police does not need to be stopped however cops need to be given more education in the arms they posses. I ask you as President of the United States to push legislation that will solve these issues and prevent the loss of thousands of american lives.
@amconmag. "Seven Reasons Police Brutality Is Systemic, Not Anecdotal." The American Conservative. N.p., 2 July 2014. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
"Discover Policing." Police Recruit Training and Academy Summary -. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.
Wesley Lowery. "Arent More White People than Black People Killed by Police? Yes but No." Washington Post. N.p., 11 July 2016. Web. 26 Oct. 2016