Do Police Have Too Much Power? Research Paper Examples
Police have a dangerous and important job, and are paid to serve and protect their communities (Reiseg & Kane, 2014). However, recent high profile altercations involving police shooting unarmed suspect has created a national debate on police brutality, racial profiling, and the limits of police power (Kirby, 2015, Tyler &Jackson, 2014). There has been a public outcry and protests over the Michael Brown shooting, with a growing number of Americans believing the police are out of control. The FBI releases data on recorded homicides by police officers, but participation is voluntary, and many law enforcement agencies do not participate. Independent statistics show that more than 1000 people were killed by police in 2014 (Meares, 2014). However, police are rarely prosecuted or even disciplined for unjustifiable homicide. In many cases, legislation provides immunity from prosecution. In the United States, police are immune from being sued for the performance of policing unless “willful and unreasonable conduct is demonstrated” (Reiseg & Kane, 2014, p. 44). These laws exist for a variety of reasons, primarily so police are not “afraid” or intimidated from performing their job (Meares, 2014). These laws however, may have the unintended consequence of giving law enforcement too much power, and free reign to abuse their authority.
Other research has focused on the politicization of crime and law enforcement. Politivians and local government adopt a “tough on crime” agenda, or vigorously pursue the “war on drugs” or the “broken window policy” of aggressive law enforcement (Tyler & Jackson, 2014). The last decade has also seen a militarization of policing, with many local departments receiving surplus military equipment, including tanks and assault rifles (Weber & Bowling, 2014). This has led to speculation that the U.S. is heading towards becoming a “police state” where law enforcement treats citizens like the enemy, not as tax-payers who they are paid to serve (Kirby, 2015).
Bonner, M. D. (2014). ‘Never Again’: Transitional Justice and Persistent Police Violence in Argentina. International Journal of Transitional Justice, 8(2), 235-255.
Kirby, S. (2015). Police power and race riots: urban unrest in Paris and New York. Policing and Society, 25(3), 330-332.
Lieberson, S. (1961). A societal theory of race and ethnic relations. American Sociological Review, 902-910.
Meares, T. L. (2014). The Law and Social Science of Stop and Frisk. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 10, 335-352.
Reisig, M. D., & Kane, R. J. (Eds.). (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Police and Policing. Oxford University Press.
Tyler, T. R., & Jackson, J. (2014). Popular legitimacy and the exercise of legal authority: Motivating compliance, cooperation, and engagement. Psychology, public policy,
Weber, L., & Bowling, B. (Eds.). (2014). Stop and search: Police power in global context. Routledge.