How Common is Police Brutality?

This year in New York alone, there have already been 156 murders, 771 rapes, and 6,458 counts of burglary – so it’s evident that a protective force is necessary to intervene and keep citizens safe from these crime sprees. But is the police force stopping these crimes or contributing to the numbers?

On a general level, researchers at Bowling Green State University conducted a study between 2005 and 2011 and found 6,724 cases of police arrests in total. These arrests were then broken down into these categories and corresponding arrest numbers:

  • Sex-related crimes: 1,475
  • Drug-related crimes: 739
  • Profit-motivated crime: 1,592
  • Violence-related crime: 3,328
  • Alcohol-related crime: 1,405

It is evident from this study that police crime does happen and it is not a rare occurrence. Not only does each police officer need to take an oath to serve and protect their community, they are getting paid well to do so and yet, 102 unarmed citizens were killed by police in 2015 and less than 1% of officers who shot these people will face any sort of consequences or are forced to take accountability.

There are many factors about police treatment that creates tremendous controversy in society – these factors range from police officer’s abuse of power, lack of accountability within the police community, a rising trend in the shooting of minority races, and use of excessive force with no reasonable threat detected. The Washington Post tracked police killings in 2015 and found that police officers killed black people at a rate of 3 times higher than white people; although only making up 6 percent of the population, black men made up 40% of victims of police shootings while unarmed.

These factors combined are the ingredients for a divide between those who are designed to protect us and our fear of not being protected.

What is Police Misconduct?

Police misconduct is an illegal and unethical behavior by a police officer that violates the victims civil rights. A few examples include:

  • Sexual assault (physical)
  • Lying or fraud
  • Planting evidence
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual favors for leniency
  • Abusing their authoritative powers
  • Torture to coerce a confession

Although this abusive and corrupt behavior seems unimaginable, a study by the Wisconsin Innocence Project found that police misconduct was a factor is as much as 50% of wrongful conviction cases that were proven innocent by DNA evidence.

According to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, in New York alone in 2016, 70% of all complaints received reported an ‘abuse of authority allegation’ as well as 42% of allegations reported ‘force’ by an officer. Physical force by a police officer can account for acts like kicking, pushing, shoving or punching – and this accounted for 74% of all force allegations.

Police misconduct Rate vs. National Average Misconduct

On a wide scale level, this graph shows the crime rate comparison between the public and police officers in 2010.

Violent Crimes Robbery Assaults Sexual Assaults Murders Excessive Force (fatalities)
General Public per 100k 429.4 133 262.8 28.7 5 0
Police Officers per 100k 409.3 4.53 264.7 67.8 5.5 17.97

After careful analysis, it is evident that police officers are far guiltier of sexual assault and excessive force fatalities compared of to the public. That rate of crime within the justice department is startling because the duty of a police officer is to keep our communities safe, not add to and exceed the assault rate.

In 2015, over 1300 Americans were shot by police. In 2016, although the number was lower, still 1152 American’s lost their lives to police. In total, this averages to a citizen being shot and killed by police every 7 hours. According to the 2009 NPMSRP Semi-Annual PMR (Police Misconduct Rate) report, about 1 out of every 4.7 police officers will be involved in an act of misconduct. The most common form of police misconduct is excessive force, which constituted 23.8% of citizen complaints in 2010. The second most common form is sexual misconduct, with a rate of 9.3% of complaints against police. Out of this 9.3% of sexual abuse from police officers, 354 of the 618 complains were forcible non-consensual acts like sexual assault and battery. 180 sexual assault victims or 51% were minors and 49% or 174 victims were adults. Police officers took an oath to protect our rights, not violently abuse them. It’s startling that peace officers are the perpetrators of vicious and humiliating acts like these.

What are my Rights if I’ve Experienced Police Misconduct?

If you have experienced police misconduct, it is imperative that you first try to remain calm and document your experience via video recording or writing down details after the encounter. Do this as soon as possible so you are less likely to forget small details like badge numbers, physical descriptions, names, and the location. You have the right to consult an attorney if you were arrested or experienced police abuse – a specialized police misconduct attorney will be able to assess if your case is strong enough to pursue a civil lawsuit. The last step is to file a police misconduct report to your local police office which would serve as an official record of the incident you recorded directly after it took place. An attorney will be able to assist you with timing on when to file your complaint and guidance on what to say and what to avoid saying before the official misconduct report is filed.

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