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Police Brutality

March 6, 2011

As I opened up my AOL homepage a few weeks ago I noticed an article that provoked my curiosity. (You should probably read it before embarking on the rest of this blog post, or it probably won’t make sense to you.)  If you haven’t guessed by now, the topic of said article is police brutality.

When I read the accounts of the one “suspect” who was beaten by four officers until he bled from his ear, I thought that these officers should be fired from their jobs immediately.  It is one thing to use excessive force when trying to detain a criminal who may be armed or a threat to flee, but it is another thing when there are four officers versus two “suspects,” and I must remind you that the two kids were sleeping, hardly a threat to flee.

Then I thought of the events once the kids were actually detained, handcuffed, and brought upstairs.  I believe the officers were again in the wrong when they handcuffed one of the kids so tightly that he now has permanent nerve damage in his hand.  I’m pretty sure that handcuffs can be effective without the excessive force used in this case.  Also, the racial and homophobic slurs that the officers repeatedly uttered are unacceptable.

So, back to my original thought, should the officers in this case be fired immediately? At first my answer was yes, but after thinking about the situation, I raised some more questions.  Would I have felt the same way if the kids were guilty instead of innocent?  In all honesty the answer the question is no.  If I heard about this happening to actual criminals, I would have thought that they got what they deserved, and the officers were just doing their jobs to bring them to justice.  Does this make me an immoral person? I hope not. I  believe a lot of us out there feel the same way.  If force is necessary to serve justice and protect the community, then I say go for it.  Why should criminals expect moral treatment when they obviously did something immoral themselves in the first place to merit the attention of the police?  I probably would side with the officers in this situation because I believe that police officers are public servants who put their life on the line for everyday citizens like myself and don’t get enough respect for it.  They go through extensive training, and I respect their judgements.  It is a hard job to say the least, and I believe they have earned the right to act as they think will serve the best interest of the community and ensure the safety of the public, even if that includes some immoral actions against criminals.

The reason this article sparked interest is obviously because the victims of the brutality were innocent bystanders.  Now the article does not provide every detail of the incident, but I believe the mistakes were made in the police’s intelligence of the situation.  The officers in this situation should have been better informed on who the actual criminal was instead of assuming everyone in the house was a criminal.  That’s why I believe that the kids who were brutalized have a legitimate claim of excessive and unnecessary force against the officers.  But I also believe that the officers were just doing their job to arrest a criminal.  To relate it to the famous philosopher Machiavelli, the ends of arresting a criminal justified excessive force against kids living in the same house as the criminal.  Thus, the officers should not be punished for their actions.  Next time they should do everything possible to have better intelligence before serving the warrant. 

That’s my opinion, but what is yours?

6 Comments
  1. Josh Platko permalink
    March 6, 2011 10:09 PM

    After reading that article, it put me in a storm of fury. Things where cops are extra abusive, and then when it turns out the suspects were innocent really sends me over the top. I have to side with the students 100%. The police need to identify themselves when busting into a house, and really should only use their excessive force when it was needed. As the article states, the kids were asleep. It makes the situation even fishier, where it says that the police were accused of excessive force in an earlier situation. The police force might need to revaluate a few of their men. My last reason to side with the boys, is dad’s opinion. Him being a cop as well, may initially side with his own son. But he seems pretty confident that when faced with a situation, he would have taken a much more ACCEPTABLE approach.

  2. jdeclaire permalink
    March 7, 2011 10:13 PM

    In my opinion, this entire situation is sad and extremely embarrassing to this particular police force. The police had absolutely no right to engage in such physical manner to INNOCENT people. In addition, they were dressed up and did not identify themselves as police officers. Even if the people were guilty, excessive force should never be used. I believe that officers and other law enforcers should use extreme force only when absolute necessary. For instance, if someone else’s life is in danger, it is their duty to anything in their power to stop it. In this situation, it seems as if the police were not even needed to arrest these men, let alone physically beat them. According to this article, the two innocent bystanders were sleeping and made no efforts to flee or fight back. Obviously, the policemen took this situation way too far and deserve to be punished for their actions.
    These officers deserve to be fired on the spot, as well as face legal action for their crimes. Some police officers, in my opinion, believe they are entitled to more than the everyday citizen. Some think that they are “above” the law, and can break rules if they desire. Their main goal is to protect and serve the people around them, but many cases, such as this one, seem as if they are just looking to get people in trouble at any costs.

  3. jasonkraman permalink
    March 7, 2011 10:22 PM

    I would agree with you that the officers acted out of line and “immoral” when they abused two innocent men who were sleeping and happened to be in the general vicinity of other criminals. However, I am going to have strongly disagree with you that the situation would be different if the victims were criminals. The act in itself of excessively beating, mocking, and humiliating another human being can never be seen as “moral”, no matter the circumstance. The criminals no matter how heinous or immoral their original act may have been still have rights. They have the right to be tried under our judicial system and should NEVER be subjected to unnecessary beating and abuse similar to what the Rutgers students endured. I believe Locke would agree with me on multiple accounts. One because we all have natural rights and those should not be violated. Second because if the government is free to abuse anyone that they see as criminals, that government would be abusing its power and became a tyrannical government. The prisoners in Abu Gharib may have been insurgents or terrorists but no one is celebrating or approving of the abuse that many of the detainees suffered in that Iraqi prison. Yes Machiavelli would argue that the ends justify the means, however in the situation you bring up the ends of arresting a criminal can be achieved with peaceful means that do include abuse and torture.

    Also, there is no question that these officers not only need to be fired but need to be criminally prosecuted. They are employed to “serve and protect” and did the absolute contrary. No matter the circumstance excessive abuse and torture should never be permitted and these men need to suffer the consequences because these officers most gave “expressed consent” by being a police officer to not torture people. Locke states that no one can doubt expressed consent and therefore no one can doubt that these police officers acted unjustly, immorally, and should be fired.

  4. Eric Chang permalink
    March 8, 2011 1:39 PM

    I agree that the article presents an extreme case of police brutality. However, I believe that there could be many other factors that are involved in this case. In my opinion, many people are caught up in blaming the police force as a whole, when it is individuals whom we should blame. Good policemen, who actually intend to protect the people and community, are given a bad reputation due to isolated incidents. Could the accused policemen be racist? Were Najjar and Kostman really as submissive as they described? Perhaps both the author’s as well as the victims’ accounts in the AOL interview stretch the truth and skew readers’ perceptions of what really happened. I am neither defending the policemen nor the victims, merely supposing that the media cannot always be taken for face value, especially when it defames an institution meant to protect us.

    According to the social contract we abide to, we give authority to policemen, or civil government, to prevent ourselves from regressing to the state of nature. However, policemen are merely fellow citizens who don a uniform and badge that symbolically gives them more authority over the common folk. We citizens consent to their power to arrest us for breaking laws because it protects society as a whole. I find this ironic; the conception of the social contract is to prevent the state of nature, but policemen are being accused of violence. What I think this is, is a way for some policemen to reassert their authority, since people who are resisting arrest threaten it. Thus, policemen use more force than required, in order subdue a person, and police brutality is claimed.

    The link to the video that is referenced at the end of the article is above. It also occurred at Rutgers University. The “victim” of the brutality seems to resist and is consequently punched. Whether this is a justified is a matter of opinion.

  5. bwand permalink
    March 9, 2011 1:01 AM

    I agree that the media most likely exaggerated the story to gain readership, but the fact that the police beat these innocent college students is unacceptable. I understand they had a warrant to arrest one of the kids, but that does not give them to right to use excessive force against all the kids in the house. Sleeping kids are not much of a threat, and the cops should have presented themselves before using force and asked who the kids were and where the person they were looking for was. If any resistance was used, then force can be justified, but waking up people with a nightstick is not okay. Once all of the kids were detained, they did not even let the innocent ones go, and forced them to endure the pain of handcuffs and the cold of the winter. The comments the police made to them are even more ridiculous. The bodily harm without cause would most likely make Locke oppose these actions but, as you said, Machiavelli would probably be fine with it. Situations like this really question whether the police are here to serve and protect as they claim or are really just sadistic assholes looking to harm the rest of us. Sure they stop murders and keep the roads safe, but how far is too far?

  6. apnash permalink
    March 9, 2011 9:12 PM

    Simply put, the police should never be in the position to punish, as your post I think proves. You assume that the people that the police were punishing were innocent, but based on what? They could very well be guilty, but without a trial you cannot know. Also, you may trust the officer’s training, but their training does not include judging guilt or innocence. If you believe that anyone who was guilty should be treated in a way that leaves them with permanent nerve damage, I am sorry to you don’t believe in justice, you believe in vengeance which are two very different things.

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