Posted: March 24th, 2023

What is Police Brutality?

Police Brutality

Police brutality is a phenomenon that demonstrates the use of unjustifiable and excessive force. The law governs the extent to which police can use force. However, there are instances where law enforcement officers use force extensively. All these extend to mental intimidation and incorporate verbal abuse. Best practices show that law enforcement agencies should operate within the framework of the law. However, cases of police brutality have been on the rise in the past decade. The evident history of police brutality indicates significant political, demographic, and economic changes, which promote the shift in the nature and scope of police brutality. Therefore, many countries encounter widespread cases of police brutality that tend to misuse power in their line of duty because law enforcement officers draw on the existing laws to use excessive force in administering justice.

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Causes and Scope of Police Brutality

Police brutality is a violation of human rights. Hence, the scope of police brutality encompasses the excessive and unnecessary use of force, ill-treatment, and other forms of torture (Amnesty International 2020). Unlawful use of force results in depriving people of their right to life. The foundational role of the police is to maintain law and order. Therefore, in cases where police use unnecessary force, they engage in discrimination and curtail the citizen’s right to liberty and security. The function of the police force is to ensure there is equal protection of all citizens under the law. However, the past decade has seen states coming up with strict laws and standards governing when the police can use force. The primary United Nations principle on the Use of Force and Firearms by law enforcement agencies is primary in addressing the use of force. The utmost obligation of state authorities is to respect and protect all citizens’ rights to life (Amnesty International 2020). However, the procedure for punishing errant police officers remains weak in structure. Most complaints that citizens give indicate that policing department operates in total disregard for the human rights laws in different jurisdictions.

 Data shows that institutionalized systems are the main factor in promoting police brutality in the modern policing environment. Elements of federalism allow law enforcement agencies to use discretion, and the principle of the burden of proving explains the increasing rate of police brutality. According to Ellawala (2016), police act as agents of state-sanctioned violence. Most operations by the police touch on discretion in applying the law. The impact of this is dehumanizing human rights through state-sanctioned violence. Understanding the causes of police brutality establishes the need to analyze the common cases where police have shot at demonstrators and faced charges where they were responsible for the death of a suspected criminal. Available evidence shows that the overall criminal justice system ignores widespread methodological patterns of police brutality. The causal peer effects account for increased cases of police misconduct among the London Metropolitan Police Serve. Therefore, laws empower the police to enforce law and order (Quispe-Torreblanca, Edika & Stewart 2019). However, in most cases, these police officers overstep their mandate of abusing individual liberties. As a result, policing maintains a thin line of enforcing the law with fairness and integrity by establishing legitimacy through excessive force.

The administration of justice establishes a dynamic model of policing. The fact that the law allows the police to use force in dispensing their duties is reason enough to increase cases of police brutality (Quispe-Torreblanca, Edika & Stewart 2019). Thus, the superiors and managers of police departments expect the general public to accept the police in using force. The caveat that allows the police to handle disorder cases in society allows law enforcement officers to develop the overbearing attitude that they have power over society. Under the conventional model of reaction, policing has widespread loopholes that enable law enforcement officers to carry out their duties in a manner that shows they are above the law. As the law empowers the police to use force in protecting individual liberties, the antecedent of misconduct emerges. The policing framework has also failed to develop effective intervention models that reduce police brutality by punishing errant officers.

The systematic factor in the police department lack mechanism of internal accountability. The investigation process tends to use the same police officers. In other words, police often investigate themselves, thus manipulating the processes. Therefore, the possibility for police officers to use force without regard to the law was high. Most law enforcement officers excessively use force but follow legal means, especially when there is a threat to their lives (Ellawala 2016).  For this reason, police brutality has continued to be an issue, especially about how police officers want to achieve their selfish interests. The police should use force depending on the existing cultural norms and commonly held standards. The administration’s justice becomes a concern among citizens because police brutality occurs when law enforcement agents use reasonable force.

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Police Operate within the Law

No data proves that police abuse their power due to loopholes in the law. Like any organization, there are individual police officers who tend to disregard the standards of practice and thus engage in cases of police brutality. For instance, the FBI established data on crime that police are pursuing show a decline in crime (Gramlich 2020). Therefore, the statistics indicate that policing is effective and law enforcement officers effectively maintain law and order. As a result, it is plausible to argue that police operate within guidelines that allow for their efficiency. Cases where police have used force, have been in response to violent criminals. For this reason, it emerges those police officers should protect themselves when they face violent criminals and suspects that endanger the officers’ life. Investigations of police brutality have always found that police acted within the law. Therefore, the accusations are based on simplistic explanations without any basis. Historically, laws have played a significant role in governing police behavior.  The National Prohibition Act affected the administration of law enforcement practices. Over the past decades, the dramatic increase in violent crimes allowed police to use brutality as a means to deal with criminals (Gramlich 2020). The control systems that have a strict hierarchy punish errant police offers by dismissing them from the force. The conventional elements of policing culture allow the use of force to protect the interests of law enforcement agencies. The law indicates how to punish an officer that violates the law by engaging in police brutality. 

Addressing the problem of police brutality rests on using multidimensional approaches. Government oversight is effective in ensuring that there is accountability among police officers. Therefore, internal police commissioners’ district attorneys should collaborate with members of the public to investigate cases of police brutality. For this reason, there are chances that the investigation would be independent and devoid of biases in the use of police mechanisms (Amnesty International 2020). Also, changing the culture of the police is significant in addressing the problem of police brutality. Substantial social and cultural change is imperative in allowing law enforcement agencies to control deviance among the forces. Thus, their service to society would occur in a legal pathway without resorting to excessive use of force.


As the analysis shows, the prevalence of police brutality rests on the existing causes and societies’ measures to address the problem. Statistics show that police brutality emerges due to the existing police culture and systematic weakness in the law. However, while the challenge taints the police image, it is difficult to stop police officers from using excessive force. In most cases, cultural, social, and systemic changes combine with loopholes in the legal framework to extend the propensity of police brutality. Therefore, a paradigm shift seems the only practical approach to countering police brutality. Therefore, training is likely to change the attitude of the police by emphasizing using effective policies that make it possible to punish errant officers that engage in police brutality. The reasons that partially cause police brutality include an institutionalized police training system, management of the police officers, the existing culture, and the inefficiency in investigating errant police officers. Overall, the criminal justice system work in cahoots with police officers to prevent any efforts to bring officer implicated in police brutality to book.



Amnesty International (2020). What is police brutality? Retrieved from

Ellawala, T. I. (2016). Pulling the trigger: Dehumanization of African Americans and police violence. Scholarly Undergraduate Research Journal at Clark2(1), 1.

Gramlich, J. (2020).  What the Data Says (and Does not Say) about Crime in the United States. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from,

Quispe-Torreblanca, E. G., & Stewart, N. (2019). Causal peer effects in police misconduct. Nature human behavior3(8), 797-807.


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