In today’s society, many things are developing and changing, such as strategies in law enforcement, as well as what is important to cover on media and whether it is the full story or not to gain more popularity on that broadcast. There has been an uprise in the amount of cases involving police officers shooting someone without probable cause, physically assaulting someone, etc. that is being presented on the news. One such cases was the Michael Brown case. In the Michael Brown case, there is not just one side to the story.
Michael Brown was unarmed at the time of the shooting, which is where it gets a bit sidetracked in the officer’s side of the story. Wilson, the officer who had shot Brown, was heard saying by a witness, “I’m going to shoot,” and then fired instantaneously, as said by Johnson (McLaughlin 2014). Belmar, the St. Louis Police Chief, had claimed that the investigation showed the officer was trying to get out of his vehicle, but Brown pushed him back in as they struggled over the officer’s weapon (McLaughlin 2014). In this case, Brown was shot without a cause, whether this is what the officer intended or not.
Brown lost his life because of an officer’s mistake to see that he was not armed and merely walking on the street at night. The Eric Garner case involved multiple people in taking him down to the ground. The Garner case had many issues attributed to it, where Garner had claimed multiple times that he had not been able to breathe, yet officers had continued to “choke” him until he went down on the ground. The officer was not indicted since, “…pre-existing health problems and causing his death, but Garner was not choked to death” (Shapiro 2014). Due to Garner’s health conditions, seeing as he weighed over 400 pounds, the submission hold just escalated his conditions, causing the stress to make him die with his diabetes, asthma, etc. (Shapiro 2014). Technically, the officer was only doing what he felt necessary in the case where Garner was resisting arrest. Garner was in the wrong during this instance. With Garner, police used extensive force in order to detain him as he was not cooperating in the first place. Officer Panteleo, “…was applying a submission hold…but Garner was not choked to death”. (Shapiro 2014).
Police used excessive force in this case, where they had, as stated by Shapiro, “…Garner to put his hands behind his head and he complains he cannot breathe…forces Garner head to the cement…” because he was not cooperating in the first place. Garner was upholding his innocence up until the moment he took his last breath. In the Michael Brown case and the Eric Garner case, the officers in question, Wilson in Browns and Pantaleo in Garner’s, were not indicted due to the evidence that was presented. Wilson was seen as using self defense and Pantaleo was seen as doing his job in the matter of Garner resisting arrest.
Both cases involved someone dying at the hands of an officer where the suspect had been resisting arrest or not following instructions stated by the officer. Though both cases are alike, they do have some differences. In the Garner case, Garner was resisting profusely during arrest after he was caught distributing cigarettes that were unlicensed (Shapiro 2014). In the Brown case, Officer Wilson had shot his gun multiple times when Brown was resisting arrest after being suspect to a robbery earlier that evening (McLaughlin 2014).
Though both were for resisting arrest and under some possibly serious charges, each case had different circumstances, people involved, and timeframe. Garners case was based on unlicensed distributing of “loosies” to others, whereas Brown was a possible suspect to a robbery that had occurred earlier in the evening. The use of force due to suspects resisting arrest is highly common nowadays. In the media, the use of force is depicted in the worst ways possible to gain attention for the media source itself, thus giving law enforcement a negative outlook from the public.
It is no longer about what the whole story is, but rather what story will sell. Law enforcement is starting to become something that is feared in today’s day and age, where they are no longer trusted in certain situations due to how they are portrayed in the media. Due to the media portraying law enforcement negatively, there are multiple protests going on to defend against what is seen as police brutality. There are times where it is not plausible to use force, but in most cases it is. However, the media only shows the worst of it, not the beginning, where we see how it all starts.
This is to gain attention and cause more stories to be covered for their broadcasts. The more protests, riots, and police use of force there is, causing the protests and riots, the more coverage there is to be covered, gaining more views, more money, etc. How can we prevent the misconception of police using brutality from the media? If I were a police chief, I would ensue that there were rules and procedures to try and prevent the media from misinterpreting law enforcement agencies as bad and brutal.
Such procedures would include training to help prevent misconceptions when deciding to take any sort of action, whether using physical force, tasers, batons, guns, etc. , as well as being placed in classes that teach gender relations in their respective community to better understand why certain things keep happening in a certain area. One procedure I would use is classes on defense in hand to hand combat to try to avoid the use of weaponry at all costs. With these classes, they would be more advanced than the ones that are used in today’s law enforcement training.
Having a partner alongside you may also help when in hand to hand combat to avoid the chances of misuse of force and even death. With a partner, taking down a suspect without unnecessary force would be easier. With that in mind, not all cases need to have partners. However, having a partner in cases where it involves guns, hostile suspects, suspicious parties, or a serious altercation would be helpful. Another strategy would be classes in gender and race to better understand how to approach any suspect, no matter their gender or race. Race is the height of the issues today when it comes to police brutality in the media.
The media has a tendency to only show cases where a white officer is using “uncalled force” with a minority suspect. With this extensive knowledge in gender and race and how we may approach certain situations involving certain race and gender we may be able to eliminate some of the prejudice that has been aimed at law enforcement these last few years. Training officers with proper use of force is also key. Teaching an officer when to use their gun, how far away would be considered appropriate to use their weapon, what type of weapon should they use with certain distances, etc.
With this knowledge, we could help our officers better protect themselves from either far away distances or up front. If someone is coming at you from fifteen feet away with a knife, what can you do when they charge at you? There are many different ways an officer could approach this situation, but instinct tells us “grab your gun. ” However, grabbing your gun is not always the best option, as grabbing it can lessen your time to react and actually prevent from being hurt.
Another way to better help an officer prepare themselves in the field is to train them with proper weapon use. Using a gun has consequences if it is not used properly and if it is used in the wrong circumstances. For example, if someone charges at you, whether armed or not, and you go to grab your gun, you may not have enough time to grab it. If they are unarmed and charge, using your gun to only harm them, such as shooting their foot, rather than shooting their abdominal area, could prevent the chances of causing someone to be in critical condition.
Proper identification of weaponry is also useful in the event of what type of force to use, as well. With this training, we could help prevent force that is not needed. If it is dark, it is harder to tell what type of weapon they may have. However, where there is light, it makes it easier to tell the kind of weapon that the suspect has. If it is an airsoft gun with a painted tip, being able to identify these would be very helpful in the situation of where we decide how life and death’s cards get played.
Alongside proper weapon identification, I would also look into different ways to subdue a suspect so as to not cause an incident, such as in Garner’s case, but with different circumstances. There are a few different holds or stances and pressure points that can be used other than the chokehold. The submissive hold is one way to go about, literally, bringing a suspect down. A submissive hold is to prevent the suspect from moving or getting way. Not only could we use different holding strategies that are not choking, we could also apply pressure points.
If you have ever seen any bad guy versus good guy movie, then you know that in some scenarios pressure points are used in fights to give them an upper-hand. Pressure points are good to use because they distract who you are trying to arrest from doing anything other than try to get you off their pressure point. In any situation any officer pursues, they deal with immense amounts of stress and how they should approach a situation, how should they react impulsively, etc. Stress is something that everyone deals with in their life, whether it be about tests, school, relationships, friendships…anything, really.
For officers, they deal with stress that you could not even imagine. They have to choose whether to use immense force with a weapon or use their hands, etc. With this stress on them, it is almost as if they are choosing someone’s life over their own. They face this stress in almost every situation they deal with on the force. Any situation can turn deadly in a second, which is why officers have to make a split decision of whether to pull their gun, use their baton or taser, or go with their hands.
Whichever choice they make could very well be their last. Having stress management classes could very well help officers in learning how to direct that stress in a different way, such as going to the gym or to MMA classes, training like a UFC fighter could even be useful. Learning to control their stress could help them not act upon their impulses and possibly do worse damage in a community, such as in the Garner and Brown case, where officers seemed to have acted impulsively due to the stress of the situations they were in.
Impulses are engraved in everyone, just like our instincts. Our impulses drive us to act certain ways when we are put in any situation. For officers, not only is stress a common factor but also our unconscious drives make us impulsively act upon a circumstance, especially when life or death is considered. If we had better impulse control, we may be able to stop and prevent officers from impulsively grabbing their gun when someone runs at them or pulls out a knife. Everyone knows the saying, “you never bring a nife to a gun fight,” but they don’t know that in a knife fight, you can use your hands and taser and baton rather than kill someone. Not every situation can this be used or avoided, but it can also prevent death from happening. If an officer sees a knife, he is more prone to grab his gun. If every officer carried a taser/stun gun, aside all their other equipment, they may be able to not impulsively go for their gun. With this training, we could also use different scenarios to help them understand which weapon would be most effective. Not every case has to end like the Garner or Brown case.
With all these different strategies we can help prevent some of the horrible damage that was done by someone’s mistake that cost another one their life. Every officer faces many challenges in their life during their career in law enforcement. In both the Eric Garner case and Brown case, these men lost their lives at the hands of officers because the officers in both cases made honest mistakes because they felt threatened (Brown case) and their suspect was resisting arrest. With different strategies, we could avoid these instances from happening again.
I would use different approaches such as learning proper use of a weapon, when to use the weapon, hand-to-hand combat in different styles, using pressure points, being able to properly identify a weapon, controlling impulses, learning how to control stress and deflect it in a different way, different holds to use to restrain someone, what type of force is proper in one situation than it is in another, and classes on gender and race for how to handle certain situations involving either to better train our officers to avoid incidents like the Garner and Brown cases.