Police Brutality Research Essay Template

Argumentative Essay on Police Brutality - Sample Essay

The police serve an integral part in society as its protectors. The profession of a policeman is considered noble as they save lives, catch criminals and are concerned with the preservation of order. The ideal policeman does not always correspond to reality. In addition to few good policemen who save lives and are always ready to help, there is always a bad cop, not noticed by the superiors. Sometimes people, obsessed with power, who did not have the opportunity to realize their desire, fall into the ranks of policemen.

Law enforcement officials like all people have drawbacks, and the situations they face are frequently dangerous and require a rapid response. The price of illegal police actions is very high. It is expressed in undermining respect for law enforcement agencies, which generates – in ethnic minority communities in particular – a split between police and society.

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Law enforcement officials like all people have drawbacks, and the situations they face are frequently dangerous and require a rapid response. The price of illegal police actions is very high. It is expressed in undermining respect for law enforcement agencies, which generates – in ethnic minority communities in particular – a split between police and society.

Victims of police violence have many different ways of complaining about police brutality. But the chances of seeing their abusers in the dock are really low. Some victims file a civil claim, but their chances of success vary from city to city and, as a rule, financial responsibility in such cases is borne by the municipality, and not by the guilty police officer. Victims are frightened by the prospect of filing a complaint with the Police Internal Investigations Department. In addition, the police department’s secrecy regime in practice means that the victim learns nothing about whether any disciplinary action has been taken against the guilty employee. With regard to the initiation of criminal proceedings at the federal or local level, most victims rightly believe that such an option is unlikely, except the cases that have been widely publicized. As a result, the damage caused by police violence is aggravated by the feelings of resentment and feebleness of the victims. Since it is common knowledge that police abuse control procedures are not effective enough, many victims of excessive violence do not even try to complain. All of the above factors lead to the fact that the guilty policemen remain in the positions held.

The police brutality in the United States leads to the most serious and systematic human rights violations. This problem is of a national and institutional nature. Police throughout the United States use firearms, beat detainees, use methods that make them choking, and use unreasonably brutal measures of physical pressure without sufficient justification. The systematically cruel police officers make up only a small part of the police force. They are subject to numerous complaints, but the silence of colleagues and the bias of internal police investigations hide them from responsibility. The victim, who seeks redress, faces obstacles at every stage of the process, from open intimidation to the unwillingness of the local and federal prosecutors to take cases against the illegal and excessive use of force by the police.

The police brutality in the USA has recently become a dangerous trend. Often police officers build up negative feelings towards certain races, sexes, or religions. The racial issue continues to play a central role in police abuses. Despite the progress made since the civil rights movement for the equality of the 1950s and 1960s, one area remains difficult to change: it is a police behavior with representatives of racial minorities. This still remains the big problem for the society. Policemen expose members of ethnic minorities to discriminatory treatment, unlawfully apply physical force to them and allow racist statements. Every new case of police brutality against African-Americans, Hispanics or other minorities – and especially cases covered in the media – further reinforces the current belief that some citizens are particularly abused and racially discriminated. 1146 and 1093 people were killed by the police in 2016 and 2015 in the USA respectively. Police have brutalized black and Latino people as a means of consolidating and advancing white supremacy.

In the United States, the cases when police use excessive force are very often revealed through good surveillance technologies and an active community of online activists and civil rights advocates. Although this creates problems among police officers, at the same time it allows disclosing cases of police brutality that might remain hidden. There is no effective system of bringing perpetrators to justice and informing citizens about such cases. Usually, the police do not investigate human rights violations, and the perpetrators escape punishment; there are obstacles to the implementation of justice.

Racial and sexual minorities had been victims of police brutality in the United States for many years. Just one percent of complaints about police using excessive force are acted upon in central New Jersey, according to an investigation by Courier News and the Home News Tribune. The government needs to make a serious structural reform, and recognize this. Law enforcement officers don’t get to interpret the law or decide what is excessive and what isn’t; rules should do that.

Rodney King beating – the first known case of brutality in the USA. The first and probably one of the most famous cases in America related to the police use excessive force occurred back in 1992 in Los Angeles when a video recording where five policemen beat an unarmed African American with batons was released. This incident became known due the fact that all five policemen were fully justified. The public confidence in the police has fallen greatly.

And then mass protests began, which turned into riots lasted for 3 days and lead to 53 people died, along with catastrophic levels of property damage and looting. This prompted the authorities to take action and, as a result, 4 out of 5 were brought to justice, and the Los Angeles Police Department undertook a series of reforms. After this incident, the police brutality stepped over the threshold. The cases when police use excessive force began to concern those on whom they were directly affected and also became widely covered in the press. Before Rodney King, only a few knew about such cases, and there were only a few such videos. But such videos will not lead to the disappearance of racist police brutality. The reports about the brutality against people are rarely shown on TV in the USA, and they focus on young, innocent victims. But still, such cases are becoming more and more well-known in society.

One of the most recent incidents where police exceed authority happened in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. The murder of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white policeman Darron Wilson caused a wave of mass protests, revealing the deep-seated problems of the American justice system that has not still eradicated racial contradictions.

For disobeying the demands to move to the pavement from the roadway of the street, Braun was shot by Wilson. The non-involvement of Wilson in criminal responsibility has exacerbated the situation. The unsuccessful attempt to introduce a state of emergency and curfew in Ferguson led to mass skirmishes of protesters with police and National Guard units, which were transferred to the city. The protests against police brutality began last year in dozens of US cities. Hundreds of people were arrested. In connection with the police using excessive force against the demonstrators, the US President was strongly criticized for the militarization of police. In response to criticism, a revision of federal programs began, in which the municipal police units were supplied with military equipment – military aircraft, grenade launchers, tactical vehicles equipped with weapons. This equipment was intended to be used by the US police force against its own people. US President Barack Obama and his Administration condemned the riots and assured that the murder of a teenager would be thoroughly investigated.

No matter what law enforcement officers do, including violence against children, they rarely face criminal charges, much less jail. And this fact must be changed. Due to growing number victims of police brutality, it is crucial to find the solution how to stop these actions. Serious human rights violations continue, numerous obstacles do not allow accountable police officers to be brought to justice, and this impunity allows them to continue the violence.


Police brutality, unfortunately, has been all too prevalent in the news lately. With it being such a controversial topic, chances are you’ll be writing about it in at least one of your classes.

The subject of police brutality isn’t exclusive to criminal justice courses. You might write about the topic in a number of classes, including history, psychology, sociology, and of course, English.

Your paper doesn’t have to be a standard argument essay, either. You might write various types of papers, including a compare and contrast essay, a problem-solution essay, or an opinion essay.

Whatever type of paper you’re writing, here are 12 articles to get you started with the research for a police brutality essay.

12 Articles to Support Your Police Brutality Essay

I’ve divided the articles in this list into the following three categories based on subtopics related to police brutality:

  • Law enforcement perspective
  • Historical perspective
  • Psychological perspective

I’ve also included an MLA citation and APA citation to help you cite the articles in case you decide to cite any of them in your own police brutality essay. (Just remember to change any “Retrieved” dates in APA citations to the date you actually read the article online.)

Police brutality articles: Law enforcement perspective

Article #1: Being A Cop Showed Me Just How Racist and Violent The Police Are. There’s Only One Fix.

In this article, writer Redditt Hudson, a former police officer, explains how the danger, stress, and sometimes already-present institutional racism within a police force can perpetuate racism and make officers calloused. He argues that the only way to stop such racism and brutality is to enforce stricter punishments of officers.

Hudson now works for the NAACP and chairs the board of the Ethics Project. This article was published in a respected news source, The Washington Post.

MLA 8 Citation

Hudson, Redditt. “Being a Cop Showed Me Just How Racist and Violent the Police Are. There’s Only One Fix.” The Washington Post, 6 Dec. 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/06/i-was-a-st-louis-cop-my-peers-were-racist-and-violent-and-theres-only-one-fix/?utm_term=.d14ddebd459d.

APA Citation

Redditt, H. (2014, December 6). Being a cop showed me just how racist and violent the police are. There’s only one fix. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/ 2014/12/06/i-was-a-st-louis-cop-my-peers-were-racist-and-violent-and-theres-only-one-fix/?utm_term=.d14ddebd459d

Article #2: Police Brutality: A Statistical Perspective

Published by Harvard Political Review, this article compares the reality of police brutality to the perceptions of police brutality. The writer discusses the importance of data and how it is used in analysis. The author also acknowledges that data alone cannot explain brutality.

This article easily passes the CRAAP Test because it is timely, written by a respected source, and contains current, unbiased content.

MLA 8 Citation

Suresh, Anirudh. “Police Brutality: A Statistical Perspective.” Harvard Political Review, 4 Mar. 2017, harvardpolitics.com/online/statistical-police-investigation-viewing-police-brutality-data-driven-lens/.

APA Citation

Suresh, A. (2017, March 4). Police brutality: A statistical perspective. Harvard Political Review. Retrieved from http://www.harvardpolitics.com/online/ statistical-police-investigation-viewing-police-brutality-data-driven-lens/

Article #3: Excessive or Reasonable Force by Police? Research on Law Enforcement and Racial Conflict

This article examines the issue of excessive force by officers and includes a discussion of minority communities’ views of police and the importance of officer training. The article also reviews the media’s role in highlighting (and often distorting) individual cases.

Journalist’s Resource, part of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, publishes timely, peer-reviewed articles.

MLA 8 Citation

Wihbey, John, and Walter Kille Leighton. “Excessive or Reasonable Force by Police? Research on Law Enforcement and Racial Conflict.” Journalist’s Resource, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/police-reasonable-force-brutality-race-research-review-statistics.

APA Citation

Wihbey, J, & Leighton, W. K. (n.d.). Excessive or reasonable force by police? Research on law enforcement and racial conflict. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from https://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/police-reasonable-force-brutality-race-research-review-statistics

Article #4: What the Cops Say

The writer of this article summarizes interviews with six police officers in the United States. The writer notes the following:

  • Police feel the media often treats them unfairly by over-publicizing negative actions and minimizing the good that officers do.
  • Police believe many people underestimate the stress of their jobs and the fact that they often face threats to their lives while on the job.
  • Police feel many people have unreasonable expectations of them as officers cannot solve social problems.

The writer also discusses potential solutions to the problem of stigma against police, such as community policing and changing police assessment procedures.

This article can be considered credible. It is published by The Economist, an established news source in publication since September 1843.

MLA 8 Citation

D.K. “What the Cops Say.” The Economist, 27 Apr. 2015, www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/04/policing-america.

APA Citation

D.K. (2015, April 27). What the cops say [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/04/policing-america

Police brutality articles: Historical perspective

Article #5: The History of Police Brutality

This article examines racism and prejudice of the 1800s and police brutality from the mid-1900s to today.

It touches on a few key cases and the Cause of Action, which is a “…code [that] gave more power to the Justice Department with filing suits against police departments that engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct.”

MLA 8 Citation

Cosgrove, Abigail Louise. “The History of Police Brutality.” It’s a Mad World, Penn State Sites, 12 Feb. 2015, sites.psu.edu/violenceinamerica/2015/ 02/12/the-history-of-police-brutality/.

APA Citation

Cosgrove, A. L. (2015, February 12). The history of police brutality [Blog]. Retrieved from https://sites.psu.edu/violenceinamerica/2015/02/12/the-history-of-police-brutality/

Article #6: Police Violence Timeline

This timeline is posted by Peoples’ Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability, which is “a New York City coalition of grassroots organizations working in Black, Latino/a and Asian communities.”

The timeline begins in 1845 with the founding of the NYPD and ends in 2014 with Eric Garner’s death. (He was choked to death by an NYPD officer.) The timeline includes a number of brief descriptions of important concerns regarding the NYPD and police brutality.

MLA 8 Citation

“Police Violence Timeline.” Peoples’ Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability, peoplesjustice.org/police-violence/timeline.

APA Citation

Police violence timeline. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2017, from http://www.peoplesjustice.org/police-violence/timeline

Article #7: Police Violence Has Been Going On Forever. No Wonder People Are Fed Up With It.

Published by the well-respected Huffington Post, this article details a number of examples of police brutality in recent decades. The article also includes videos and a link to a more in-depth discussion of the killing of Michael Brown.

MLA 8 Citation

Bach, Natasha. “Police Violence Has Been Going On Forever. No Wonder People Are Fed Up With It.” The Huffington Post, 23 Aug. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/23/police-brutality-michael-brown_n_5700970.html.

APA Citation

Bach, N. (2014, August 23). Police violence has been going on forever. No wonder people are fed up with it. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/23/police-brutality-michael-brown_n_5700970.html

Article #8: Long History of Police Brutality

This article examines police brutality across decades. The article includes a discussion of key events, such as the Watts Riots, the Black Panther movement, and the L.A. Riots. A number of related videos are also embedded in the article.

MLA 8 Citation

MuniCourts. “Long History of Police Brutality.” Court.rchp.com, 17 Nov. 2015, court.rchp.com/long-history-of-police-brutality/.

APA Citation

MuniCourts. (2015). Long history of police brutality. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from http://www.court.rchp.com/long-history-of-police-brutality/

Police brutality articles: Psychological perspective

Article #9: The Cop Mind

Published by The New York Times, this op-ed argues that, although police must be held accountable for their actions, the public must also realize the emotional and psychological difficulties officers face on a daily basis.

MLA 8 Citation

Brooks, David. “The Cop Mind.” The New York Times, 8 Dec. 2014, www.nytimes.com/2014/12/09/opinion/the-cop-mind.html?_r=0.

APA Citation

Brooks, D. (2014, December 8). The cop mind. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/09/opinion/the-cop-mind.html?_r=0

Article #10: A Psychological Perspective on Police Violence

The writer of this article references Dr. Moscowitz, a social psychologist, who asserts that it is fear, rather than overt racism, that causes police to act as they do.

Moscowitz states that individuals evaluate potential threats within 200 milliseconds. Further, he argues it is within this “split second [that] one would have to decide whether one should shoot or hold fire.”

This source can be considered credible because it is an academic source published by Lehigh University.

MLA 8 Citation

Stralo, Lauren. “A Psychological Perspective on Police Violence.” Lehigh University, 11 Dec. 2014, www1.lehigh.edu/news/psychological-perspective-police-violence.

APA Citation

Stralo, L. (2014). A psychological perspective on police violence.” Retrieved from https://www1.lehigh.edu/news/psychological-perspective-police-violence

Article #11: Inside the Mind of an Angry Cop

This article, published in GQ, is an interview with police psychologist David J. Thomas. One of the key takeaways in this interview is that police departments do not provide sufficient psychological testing or support for officers.

MLA 8 Citation

Ramsey, Donovan X. “Inside the Mind of an Angry Cop.” GQ, 8 June 2015, www.gq.com/story/police-psychologist-qa-texas-pool-party.

APA Citation

Ramsey, D. X. (2015, June 8). Inside the mind of an angry cop. GQ. http://www.gq.com/story/police-psychologist-qa-texas-pool-party

Article #12: When Cops Kill: The Psychology of Deadly-Force Encounters

The writer of this article, Dr. Laurence Miller, explains that many people wrongly assume that deadly force means the officer has reacted with excessive force. Miller examines a variety of police scenarios to explain how and why officers react to specific situations.

He argues that “it is unfair and unproductive for citizens to assume that all adverse outcomes of police-citizen encounters automatically signal callousness or maliciousness on the part of the officers involved.”

This article is published in PoliceOne, “the most comprehensive and trusted online destination for law enforcement agencies and police departments worldwide.”

MLA 8 Citation

Miller, Laurence. “When Cops Kill: The Psychology of Deadly-Force Encounters.” PoliceOne, 12 Jan. 2015, www.policeone.com/health-fitness/articles/8104031-When-cops-kill-The-psychology-of-deadly-force-encounters/.

APA Citation

Miller, L. (2015, January 12). When cops kill: The psychology of deadly-force encounters. PoliceOne. Retrieved from http://www.policeone.com/health-fitness/articles/8104031-When-cops-kill-The-psychology-of-deadly-force-encounters/

Assignment Complete

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