The incidences of police brutality have occurred across the world and remain a major issue amongst the community and the police organizations. Brutality exists in various forms including assaults, deaths due to use of force, and harassment. Brutality exists in two forms, physical brutality which includes assaults and non-physical brutality which may involve verbal language. Cases of brutality have been part of the history of several countries such as the United States and South Africa. For instance, in the past, police brutality was dominant during the apartheid due to demonstrations and at the present moment despite people having rights (Ehrenfeld, Jesse, & Patrice Harris). Police brutality is an act that involves physical or verbal violence between law enforcement officers and the public especially among the Black American and the White American communities. The incidents are more prevalent and pervasive and hence determinants of health.
Many people who work in the law enforcement units are supposed to embrace justice and fairness when discharging their duties. The violence resulting from police needs an understanding in connection to the broader social economic aspects that place individuals and the public in a risky path that can cause illness and death. Police violence is a mirror of the American legacy of discrimination (Ehrenfeld, Jesse, & Patrice Harris). This issue gives credit and structures a chance while discriminatively giving merit to some while disqualifying other population based on several factors such as the skin color.
Providing police with training in procedurally just policing is an effective intervention for curbing persistent police brutality if training. Training police officers in procedural justice interventions can help in establishing and promoting a positive police culture (Sahin et al. 701). Empirical evidence shows that procedural justice training can have a substantial impact on the reduction of excessive use of force among law enforcement officers (Wood, Tyler, and Papachristos 9815). Previous research shows that implementation of this intervention reduces use of force and complaints among law enforcement personnel (Wood, Tyler, and Papachristos 9815). One of the major mechanisms through which procedurally-just policing can reduce police brutality is the promotion of positive relationship between police offers and the public (Sahin et al., 701). On the same note, Antrobus, Thompson, and Ariel explain that training law enforcement agents in procedural justice can help in improving how they interact with the public (30). Antrobus, Thompson, and Ariel argue that “aside from the fact that it is a given that citizens deserve to be treated in a fair manner by authorities such as the police, it is expected, based on the literature, that if the police act in a procedurally just manner they will be seen as more legitimate and citizens will subsequently be more willing to cooperate or comply with them” (29). This solution can be directed at the future by focusing on both existing law enforcement officers and newly recruited officers.
Designing and implementing effective procedural justice knowledge and skills-based training programs can foster positive attitudes towards citizens, especially law breakers. One major justification of this intervention is the potential to reduce racial biases among law enforcement agents and encourage de-escalation (Wood, Tyler, and Papachristos 9819). Several randomized controlled trials have established reliable evidence in support of this argument (Sahin et al., 701). One randomized control trial found that procedural justice training programs that are designed to create awareness and promote fairness reduce the chances of police officers using excessive force or ending encounters with arrest (Antrobus, Thompson, and Ariel 29). Therefore, reliable empirical evidence supports the effectiveness of procedural justice training in reducing police brutality.
It is imperative to note that police brutality is an in injustice but it becomes intense stress to the public due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The use of excessive force is a criminal offense since the police violate the legal norms during the implementation of their duties. Using this level of force also violates the fifth and the fourteenth amendments of the United States constitution about cruelty and securing the laws. Currently, there is evidence of a rise in police violence involving the use of excessive force and inappropriate shootings of innocent citizens which lead to deaths (Alang et al. 662). The ferocity leads to distracting of the law enforcement by the communities that feel discriminated against. There is also distrust in the extensive government organ including the significant public health sector. The violence against people and communities of different race results in effects that are viral in frequency and highly demoralizes the public.
COVID-19 has led to various impacts on communities disproportionately through relief health inequity in the US. Besides the partial effect of the pandemic, the recent killings of Beonna Taylor, a black American woman and an EMT in Lousiville, an incident that happened in her resident due to mistaken identity by the police is evidence of the police injustices. The killing of Floyd George in Minneapolis at the hands of the law enforcement officers during which he uttered sentiments that reflected those of Eric Garner who was killed in New York in 2014 also indicates the dominance of police brutality.
It is important to recognize the importance of COVID-19 public health guidelines such as putting on face masks and social distancing in preventing the spread of the disease and death (Laurencin and Walker 10). Evidences show that police and other enforcement units are exercising discriminatory enforcement in communities dominated with the Black Americans and white Americans.
However, government and private agencies fail to mention the harmful health effects that result from the relationship between police brutality and health. Studies indicate that racially secluded populations are unfairly subject to police brutality and as such, a correlation exists between police activities and health results. For instance, Black American male civilians have a three times high likelihood of dying during a police confrontation than their white American comrades (Njoku, Yusuf & Bolaji 9-10). Also, Lantix represented 30 percent of all the convictions and 23 percent of all the searches despite the community being about 18 percent of the total population. The rise in the incidences of police meetings is potentially due to an increase in stress and anxiety including higher cases of high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma.
Studies also indicate that racism is a significant factor in health inequity. The deaths of unarmed black American population had a connection to antagonistic mental health among this population group. The distress due to violence in the life of an individual life is related to chronic stress, low life expectancy, and greater levels of comorbidities which need broader care and economic needs on the health care system besides exploiting the energy of the affected communities and families.
The United States has historically and systematically been partial against certain racial clusters besides ethnic and religious groups. The structural and political arrangements have established intense challenges that have continuously existed till the modern times. Racism in the structural perspective includes partial access to opportunities, resources, situations and power within certain regimes.
Physical and mental violence at the hands of the law enforcement officers is an offensive act of policing which needs to stop. Police brutality in the perspective of the public health crisis is less effective in preventing crime but rather demoralizes the circumstances in already stressful moments. Police violence generates psychological damages and has a precise effect on the neighbors. Persistence in the violence reduces the communal trust in the police and a decay of the population whose lives have been historically over-policed (Brooks 239). Over-policing the marginalized communities and minorities in the US is historically cultivated in the culture. One way of reducing police violence during periods of public health challenges is promoting equity and ensuring responsibility for the actions as a public health policy.
Several methods can be useful in ending the systemic issue in our society. Dominant health organizations need to enhance measures against police brutality and racism. There is need for mandatory reporting of legal intervention killings and police homicides to public health departments. There is need to encourage health care institutions and physician sectors to completely condemn police brutality especially during the period of Corona Virus pandemic and during other public health problems. Clinics, hospitals and healthcare providers have to evaluate and reexamine their regulations and associations with the police activities that could raise injuries to the patients and their respective communities. Health research institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine need to research intensively on the impacts of physical and verbal conflict between the police and the civilians specifically with racially marginalized groups.
Police officers should only apply force in the execution of their roles in a reasonable situation. The forced use of force need only to be used with more restrain and should be applicable only after failing in effective use of negotiating and persuasion. Police psychologists can also help reduce the incidences of police violence. These personnel will be essential in guiding and counselling rather than stress management although the method may only be responsive in some cases rather than preventive. The health care institutions through the psychologists need to establish regular screening of the police officers to examine aspects such as decision making and problem solving abilities. Focus on these areas is important since these are factors necessary for resolving circumstances without the use of excessive force that leads to violence.
Alang, Sirry, et al. “Police brutality and black health: setting the agenda for public health scholars.” American journal of public health 107.5 (2017): 662-665.
Antrobus, Emma, Ian Thompson, and Barak Ariel. “Procedural justice training for police recruits: results of a randomized controlled trial.” Journal of Experimental Criminology 15.1 (2019): 29-53.
Brooks, Oliver. “Police Brutality and Blacks: An American Immune System Disorder.” Journal of the National Medical Association 112.3 (2020): 239.
Ehrenfeld, Jesse M., and Patrice A. Harris. “Police brutality must stop.” American Medical Association (2020).
Laurencin, Cato T., and Joanne M. Walker. “A Pandemic on a Pandemic: Racism and COVID-19 in Blacks.” Cell Systems 11.1 (2020): 9-10.
Njoku, Anuli, Yussuf Ahmed, and Bolanle Bolaji. “Police brutality against Blacks in the United States and ensuing protests: Implications for social distancing and Black health during COVID-19.” Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment (2020): 1-9.
Sahin, Nusret, et al. “The impact of procedurally-just policing on citizen perceptions of police during traffic stops: The Adana randomized controlled trial.” Journal of Quantitative Criminology 33.4 (2017): 701-726.
Wood, George, Tom R. Tyler, and Andrew V. Papachristos. “Procedural justice training reduces police use of force and complaints against officers.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117.18 (2020): 9815-9821.