Home US Politics Use of Force by Police: American Police Stand Among the Worst

Use of Force by Police: American Police Stand Among the Worst

by Eli Mshomi
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The excessive use of force by the United States police differentiates it from the rest of the countries.

Police in many countries carry weapons, but the way American police use them against their own citizens is unmatched in any other developed nation.

This depicts the systematic problem in US policing and their inability of crisis management peacefully.

Despite the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and the rising calls to defund the police, no significant measures have been taken to increase the accountability mechanism of US police.

To date, in 2021,  almost 530 people have been killed by police in the US, which manifests the excessive use of force by US police.

 

Use of Force by Police: US vs. the Rest:

Statistics show that US police have a higher shooting, arrest, and jail rate than police in other democratic countries.

They are so far apart from the rest of the world that no other developed country even comes close.

For instance, consider the following statistics, signifying the difference between the policing practices of different countries.

  • There are over 1,000 police-related deaths in the United States each year. 
  •  Between 2000 and 2017, only 461 fatal police encounters happened in Canada. 
  • In Germany, 14 people have been killed by police since 2017, while in the previous decade, only ten people died in police custody.
  • England and Wales reported only three police-related deaths in 2018.
  • There have been only ten deaths in police custody in all Scandinavian countries in the last ten years.

 

US Police kills civilians at a much higher pace compared to police forces of other countries. This suggest the excessive use of force by US police

US Police kills civilians at a much higher pace compared to police forces of other countries. This suggests the excessive use of force by US police. Photo Credit:
www.prisonpolicy.org

 

In a mere ten months from June 2015 to March 2016, 1348 arrest-related deaths happened, per the Bureau of Justice.

According to the UK’s police watchdog, only 13 people died in or after being placed in police custody in the same time period.

In 2015/2016, the UK reported 21 deaths in police custody or custody processes.

An organization tracking the police violence counted 1099 deaths by American police in 2019.

The use of force by police in the US is not limited to deaths only. The arrests by the US police

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in 2018 totaled 10,310,960.

Compared to the United Kingdom and Australia, the US has the highest arrest rate among developed nations.

Policing practices and policies that encourage police violence are responsible for excessive arrests.

This is resulting in poor prison management within the United States.

US Police Need Better Training to Stop Use of Force

Military-style tactics of policing have become associated with police brutality in the United States. A common practice is the use of batons, tear gas, paper spray, rubber bullets, chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and shooting.

The act of shooting at moving vehicles without regard to whether the driver possesses a firearm or not also depicts the excessive use of force by US police.

This is the need of the hour for Biden to sign some urgent executive orders to disable these practices from the US police force.

In order to ensure the safety of the public and police officers, governments must ensure the availability of a framework governing the use of force. The mechanism for accountability must be adequately installed and resourced to yield positive results.

In Europe, for example, the law prohibits the police from using torture, demonstrating that excessive and unjustified use of force by police and other law enforcement agencies is a chronic problem.

The use of force by police in Europe is considered a last resort.

They focus on de-escalating practices rather than utilizing physical force, weapons, or firing. Police in Norway and Finland require permission before shooting anyone. In Spain, officers must issue verbal alerts and warning shots before resuming deadly force.

In most of Europe, chokeholds are prohibited. 

Police training plays a crucial role in deciding the officers’ quest to use force instead of managing the situation without it. This lack of training is one of the reasons why the United States lacks professional practices.

Centralizing the law-making in European police is a primary reason why the law enforcement officers there stick to the standard operating procedures.

However, in the United States, every department can make its own laws, resulting in chaos within the police ranks.

The majority of European countries rely on independent regulatory bodies with national jurisdiction.

In Denmark, police misconduct cases and allegations of crimes are reviewed by an independent watchdog. 

In England and Wales, 43 police agencies are overseen by an independent body in case of police misconduct or deaths. 

In contrast to Europe, America has no centralized oversight body; their law allows police departments to investigate themselves with few exceptions.

Misconduct or abuse of power by police often goes uninvestigated or unpunished.

For instance, 18 complaints were filed against police officer Derek Chauvin before he killed George Floyd. Had it been about timely accountability, the George Floyd episode could have been averted.

 

Final Thoughts

The calls to reform the US police are not new. While the George Floyd Justice Act has become a forgotten dream for lawmakers, the need is to reform police through executive actions since partisan politics is influencing Congressional works.

The use of force also varies in racial spectrums, where people of color are more prone to invite police officers to use force against them.

The police relation with minorities also needs to be mended because only then proper policing efforts could pave the way for justice within the society.

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