What Is Police Brutality?

Written by S. Danilina and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Police brutality is the use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians. “Excessive use of force” means a force well beyond what would be necessary in order to handle a situation. Police brutality can be present in a number of ways. The most obvious form of police brutality is a physical form. Police officers can use nerve gas, batons, pepper spray, and guns in order to physically intimidate or even intentionally hurt civilians. Police brutality can also take the form of false arrests, verbal abuse, psychological intimidation, sexual abuse, police corruption, racial profiling, political repression and the improper use of Tasers.

Nowadays, many countries have laws which address police brutality. Under these laws, police brutality is seen as a very serious offense and investigated by a commission of district attorneys. Unfortunately, even with the law covering police brutality, many complaints made by civilians about excessive use of force are not investigated. Researchers suggest that it happens because the police has the authority to use force when necessary, and, often, it is difficult to prove that police brutality has taken place. More police officers now constantly record all interactions with civilians. Later on the recorded conversations can be reviewed in the case of an investigation.

Even though racial profiling still exists, anyone regardless of race, gender or age can become a victim of police brutality.  If a person experienced police misconduct, he or she needs to write down the names of all witnesses of the accident, take pictures of his or her injuries and get a medical conclusion on the injuries from a medical professional. Also, it is a good idea to hire a police brutality attorney to help with the case. If a complaint was filed with the court, a person who was a victim of police brutality may be able to receive reimbursement for doctor’s fees, medical tests, lost wages and emotional distress.

Police brutality has taken place since the police forces were formed. Police brutality has existed during the United States Industrial Revolution, the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and after the September 11 attacks. In nations where no laws about the use of excessive force exist, complaints about police brutality are very common.

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