Law Enforcement: Excessive Force and Misconduct

Law Enforcement: Excessive Force and Misconduct

CRJ 499

Smartphones have proven to be a gift and a curse to both Law Enforcement and citizens. On the one hand, smartphones have played major roles in solving crimes and bring to light the multiple unfortunate incidents involving misconduct and excessive force. Then on the other hand cellphones can be so distracting that it can change our ability to notice, remember or react to crimes as they occur. People are less likely to witness crimes or suspicious activity not to mention a person who was on a wanted ad. (

Another distraction and potential problem are that cellphone usage takes up the majority of people’s spare time and occupy the eye. Earbuds are also a form of technology, and when you mix the two, it reduces the likelihood of noticing things that would normally catch our attention such as gunshots, suspicious noises or screams. Sound is one of the main things that draw our attention; headphones eliminate that ability (

When you think of technology as it relates to police misconduct and unnecessary excessive force, devices such as smartphones, surveillance, cameras, etc. have played major roles in how police officers handle citizens daily. Technology has increased the level of accountability given to all parties involved during incidents that result in force and sometimes unwarranted brutality. However, as technology continues to evolve policing has become a lot more efficient and have more tools to rely on as it relates to solving a case.

The advancement in technology continues to have its ups and downs; in example, law enforcement has caught wind of a mobile app called Waze that alerts citizens of police activity such as speed traps and roadblocks. Waze is a traffic tracking tool that can display the current location of police officers. This can be a problem because it helps people with criminal intent to avoid the police and possibly harm them. A concern that officers have with this app is that it can put officers lives at risk by giving the current location of police officers as some people purposely target law enforcement with malicious intent (

Law Enforcement officers are responsible for the deaths of nearly three people a day across the country. In 2016, incidents involving police action led to the death of over 500 people; this includes the 58 police officers that have died in the line of duty in the same year. Thirty-six of the officers who were killed died in the shootings while others were killed in vehicular pursuits or assaults. The statistics show that police activity in the United States is dangerous and can be fatal (

Due to the overwhelming amount of events related to the deaths of citizen’s an officer’s killed in the line of duty technology has stepped up by producing body cameras. Body camera’s give a clear view and record of all police activity while on duty. The idea of body cameras was introduced in 2006. However, it didn’t become widespread until the numerous reports and video recordings of incidents involving the police (

In 2012, police officers within the Rialto City police department began a large pilot to test the usage of body cameras. It was determined that the presence of a body camera’d reduced the amount of force used by police officers by 60% and public complaints by 88%. Rialto police chief Tony Farrar said, “When you know you’re being watched you behave a little better. As an officer, you act a bit more professional, follow the rules a bit better.” Chief Farrar attests to the need for body cameras for the safety of both the officer as well as the citizens (

In today’s society, there are multiple forms of technology such as smartphones, automated ticketing systems, widespread surveillance-audio, pattern analysis systems, and drones. All of the different forms of technology have made policing a lot safer and efficient. Automated ticket systems were created to lessen the amount of face to face encounters that often lead to fatal misunderstandings ( I feel that automated ticketing is a great idea and resolution to reducing the number of unnecessary encounters with police officers and citizens for minor traffic violations. Police officers should be freed up to focus on more pressing issues within our communities.

Widespread surveillance video is also another form of technology used across the country now that monitors areas for criminal behavior. These cameras can be found in high traffic and crime areas ( I believe if there were more area surveillance, this could also be a solution to the reduction of crime and incidents involving police misconduct.

A more recent luxury to widespread surveillance is audio, a program also known as a shot spotter. This program uses a network of highly sensitive microphones to listen for gunshots within the area. The system can detect the gunshots in realtime and immediately provide the areal position. This helps officers to respond quickly to incidents without having to rely on witnesses to call in a police report ( Surveillance such as described can deter criminals from making mistakes if they know that they are being watched. Surely, this will not eliminate all crimes, but it is a start in reducing the number of crimes committed. In return, the fewer crimes committed will result in less police and citizen encounters and this may help with reducing the number of fatalities and excessive force cases by police.


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