Police brutality is an unfortunate an intolerable aspect of police power. The history of the police department shows that they sometimes overlook police brutality, especially during the Civil Rights era. However, most modern-day police departments in the United States, and in other democratic countries, have a rigid zero-tolerance policy. The consequences of police brutality today can be devastating for all parties involved.
For the Victim
Police brutality can take many forms although it is most commonly associated with physical abuse. However, it is also seen during interrogations with sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation and emotional manipulation. The effects of emotional and mental brutality are not always physically visible but they are long lasting and devastating. After emotional and mental abuse, the victim can be left feeling shame, worthlessness and dependency or isolation that will require years of therapy to overcome. Physical brutality can also have detrimental and long lasting effects on a victim, especially if internal organs or muscles are damaged.
On the Police Officer
After an accusation of police brutality, the police officer will most often be assigned to desk duty and have his gun taken from him. An accusation, even a false one, can effect the rest of the police officer's career. Even an accusation will be listed on his permanent record. When accused, the police officer will face internal affairs investigating his/her life and personality. If convicted, the officer's fate with the police department will be decided by the police commissioner. The punishment will be commensurate with the abuse. There is a good chance the officer will be forced to resign.
For the Police Department
The police department tries very hard to weed out excessively aggressive cadets in the police academy in order to try to lessen the instances of police brutality. The public and the media, however, may not pay attention to this fact and may apply extra scrutiny on the department. The police commissioner and the officer's direct supervisors will oftentimes be held accountable for the officer's behavior and might even resign. The department will also have a more difficult time getting help from the public on investigations since public distrust will increase.
Read More: How to Sue a Police Department
For the General Public
The consequences of police brutality on the general public is much less than the actual victim. However, damages to the general public are harder to fix since the population is too large to talk to one-on-one. When the general public learns of a case of police brutality they are likely to become wary of the police department and government in general. The public, often fanned by the media, will sensationalize the case, especially if race, gender, socioeconomic status or sexuality seems to be a factor.
Sarah Meem began writing in 2007. She specializes in coverage of Middle East topics, human trafficking and human rights issues. Meem has a Bachelor of Arts in international studies and Arabic from the University of North Carolina. She is pursuing a master's degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago.