According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in a survey asked by regular citizens on whether police officers used excessive force or threatened them during a regular traffic stop or other reasons, disclosed how citizens feel about the performance of their law enforcement agents. The Police Public Contact Survey results shouldn’t be that surprising in that profiling and abuse still prevails.
Although these summary findings were conducted in 2008, with the recent developments in the Travon Martin tragedy, people of color and Latinos are heavily profiled and continue to have the highest rates of police brutality and cases against them. The findings prove the following:
-Among persons who had contact with police in 2008, an estimated 1.4% had force used or threatened against them during their most recent contact, which was not statistically different from the percentages in 2002 (1.5%) and 2005 (1.6%).
-Males were more likely than females to have force used or threatened against them during their most recent contact with police during 2008, and blacks were more likely than whites or Hispanics to experience use or threat of force.
-Of persons who had force used or threatened against them by police in 2008, an estimated 74% felt those actions were excessive.
-Of those individuals who had force used or threatened against them in 2008, about half were pushed or grabbed by police. About 19% of persons who experienced the use or threat of force by the police reported being injured during the incident.
-Among persons experiencing police use or threat of force in 2008, an estimated 22% reported that they argued with, cursed at, insulted, or verbally threatened the police.
-About 12% of those involved in a force incident reported disobeying or interfering with the police.
-Among individuals who had force used or threatened against them in 2008, an estimated 40% were arrested during the incident.
-An estimated 84% of individuals who experienced force or the threat of force felt that the police acted improperly. Of those who experienced the use or threat of force in 2008 and felt the police acted improperly, 14% filed a complaint against the police.
What has disturbed me over the last week is that many people have slammed the Reverend Al Sharpton on his comments at a press conference is which he said: “Trayvon Martin committed no crime,” he explains. Sharpton later adds, “He had no weapon and he had every legal right to be where he was. The rush to judgment was those that moved against him, said he was suspicious, and took his life. So to lecture us about rushing to judgment, we’re a victim of a rush to judgment in this case. Let’s be real clear on that.” Although I don’t agree with everything that the Reverend says, I have to take issue with something he and the ‘so-called’ black civil rights activists continue to sleep on, which is the negligence and brutal nature of the actions of the Sanford Police Department. I’m going to take it even further than that, the outright killing of black people by use of excessive force. Also how some law enforcement agencies turn their blind eye to justice.
As you recall, Police Chief Bill Lee, who recently resigned and is on administrative leave, has had his fair share of problems underneath him as does the Sanford Police Department. Lee and his staff failed to follow proper department detailed procedures in addressing the press, the family of Trayvon Martin, and mandatory law enforcement policies. Like, the outright failure to interview Trayvon’s girlfriend who was on the phone with him before the shooting. The police department had a detailed phone log Trayvon’s cell phone calls but never contacted her after the senseless murder. The department never gave George Zimmerman a toxicologist test nor check his car or impound it, a standard and mandatory procedure that all officers must do. Also, Trayvon’s body was at the country morgue for three days classified as “John Doe” nor contacted them about the body earlier to see if he matched the exact identity of his body. The Sanford Police Department also disclosed Trayvon Martin’s academic and disciplinary record from high school trying to defame his character to the press.
I admire what the Reverend Al Sharpton is trying to do, which is to bring the awareness of the facts surrounding the case and to help bring justice to the Martin family. But what I’m not hearing is what we need to do to bring officers and law enforcement agencies like the Sanford Police Department accountable for their actions.
Lets not forget Amadou Diallo, the immigrant from Guinea, who was shot 41 times fatally by New York City police officers Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon, Richard Murphy, and Kenneth Boss. Diallo, who was unarmed, was standing in the vestibule of Bronx apartment building when he was hit 19 times because the officers thought he had a gun. The City of New York awarded the family of Amadou a settlement of $3,000,000.
Just recently the Denver Police Department paid over a millions dollars in which their officers used excessive force. According to an article in the Denver Post, “In 2010, Denver settled seven cases alleging police brutality for a total of $125,000. It settled seven cases in 2009 for $303,700. In 2008, settlement amounts totaled slightly more than $1 million.” A case in 2011 amounted in a total settlement of $795,000 to Alexander Landau. Landau suffered from trauma and brain injuries following a 2009 traffic stop for an illegal turn.
The Trayvon Martin case along with the tens of thousands of cases like this continue to happen yet WE don’t hold the officers and departments accountable. It took six years to finally fire the officers that shot and killed Sean Bell here in New York City. And the sad thing about that case is one of the officers will receive a portion of pension despite the horrid nature of Mr. Bell’s death. Now do you call that justice? Many in the black community will be happy to see George Zimmerman to be tried and sentenced to life in prison. To me, that’s just playing it safe. I demand that the police chiefs, lieutenants, and officers lose not only their jobs, but if the evidence is there, try them as well for colluding evidence and allowing their officers to allow them commit the travesty that happened in Sanford.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics proves that racial profiling is a common practice among many law enforcement agencies around the country. It also shows people are afraid of the very people that we pay out of our own paychecks to ‘protect and serve.’ We as a people need to go from preventing senseless murders like Trayvon Martin and Amadou Diallo to organizing and bringing down corrupt police departments like the ones in Denver, New York City, and Sanford.
The Revolution Will Be Televised,
The Pace Report