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Police Shooting and Issue of Discrimination

The increased number of police patrols in low-income communities is justified by the more complex criminal environment. However, a higher number of patrols means more crimes are reported, which does not always correspond to reality. Less police focus on wealthier neighborhoods may mean that they do not notice the proportion of crimes committed there. Such a prejudiced attitude of the police towards less prosperous areas results in armed conflicts in which people are killed, which is not always legitimate. The problem is directly related to the lack of objective evidence, making it impossible to establish the causes of incidents.

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Such incidents have occurred on several occasions and have often sparked waves of public protests. For example, in 2014, the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson shocked the American public and sparked widespread protests (“Michael Brown is killed,” 2020). However, despite the presence of eyewitnesses and the expert examination conducted, the police officer will not be punished for the committed (“Michael Brown: Ferguson officer,” 2020).

Such behavior of the police can be justified since the official investigation did not reveal corpus delicti. The question remains controversial since what the eyewitnesses saw and what they said may not always be true. On the contrary, mistrust of testimony can also be a form of discrimination, which exacerbates the problem. Central, in this case, is precisely the issue of collecting evidence to establish the reasons for the shooting. Whether this was the authority abused by the police officer or did the young man showed aggression towards him at some point, one can only establish from the words of eyewitnesses.

However, the increased focus of police on low-income areas can have negative consequences, which become a vicious circle. According to one of the delinquency theories, “primary reason for repeat offending being the label “delinquent” appended becomes incorporated into the youth’s cognition of himself or herself” (Thompson & Morris, 2016, p. 44). Thus, living in a certain environment, people perceive it as the norm and adjust their behavior to the conditions. Consequently, young people in response to police presence will be aggressive and commit crimes because they are expected to do so. Thus, such a problem is sociological and must be resolved at the community and legislative levels.

Since the issue of discrimination in such a case is connected precisely with the lack of objective data, the introduction of body-worn cameras may become a logical solution to the problem. When there is a police shooting, then “what constitutes a minor policy violation can be very much in the eye of the beholder” (Fan, 2018, p. 15). Any action of a young man could have seemed to the officer a threat or aggression, which caused him to respond. In this case, it is impossible to assess the legitimacy of such actions: how much the threat was expressed, whether it was sufficient. Eyewitnesses cannot provide objective information due to the peculiarities of human psychology.

Therefore, it is necessary to document what is happening so that then the materials can be evaluated by experts, and on their basis, a fair verdict is made. Moreover, body cameras can allow the collection of statistical information, which will help to take more adequate measures in the long term (Fan, 2018). Thus, the issue of discrimination and police shootings can be resolved by observing both officers and citizens. Information collected by cameras can serve both as objective material in individual cases and as statistics.

References

Fan, M. D. (2018). Body cameras, big data, and police accountability. Law & Social Inquiry, 43(4), 1-21.

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Michael Brown: Ferguson officer won’t be charged for 2014 killing. (2020). BBC News. Web.

Michael Brown is killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. (2020). History. Web.

Thompson, K. C., & Morris, R. J. (2016). Theories of juvenile delinquency. In K. C. Thompson & R. J. Morris, Juvenile delinquency, and disability (pp. 41-53). Springer.

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