Police Brutality Essay

2934 Words12 Pages
Police brutality is an ironic phenomenon. It is the job of the police to keep citizens safe. Yet, too often in the history of the New York Police Department, the very police officers assigned to protect the citizens engaged instead in acts of brutality against them. This paper looks at the history of police brutality in New York City, as well as the racial overtones that often accompanied it. Police brutality in New York is as old as the New York Police Department. The NYPD was founded in 1844. In its first year of operation, there were 29 formal complaints of police brutality. In the early years, allegations of police brutality involved mostly individual situations. But in 1853, there occurred the first large-scale form of police brutality. Certain areas of the city had become very dangerous and in an attempt to reassert control in these areas, the NYPD created a strong-arm squad. This squad consisted of plainclothes officers armed with clubs. The officers went into the dangerous neighborhoods and “beat senseless” every known gang member, regardless of what they were doing at that specific time. Perceiving the results of the strong-arm squads as positive, the police department decided to make the nightstick mandatory equipment for all police officers. Officers now had a weapon on them at all times and, not surprisingly, they became more willing to use it, leading to more complaints of police brutality. Many officers began to use the nightstick to beat people for the smallest offenses and even sometimes for just looking at the officers in the wrong way. One of the more common complainants at that time was from people who reported that, while sitting on the steps outside their house, a police officer would ask them to go inside for no reason and then beat them if they refused. The officer then tried to cover up his actions by writing in his report that the

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