Free «Police Misconduct» Essay Paper

Police Misconduct


The main role of the police is to maintain law and order. They ensure that the security of the country prevails at all times and under any circumstances. One may see the police quelling riots, arresting those who break the law, and catching criminals. However, the policemen have added themselves another role of brutality. They involve themselves in unwarranted killings, mutilating crime scene evidence, and faking court evidence to punish innocent citizens. This kind of behavior is a usurpation of the police powers and accounts to the police misconduct. Any act done by the police beyond their powers, lawfully granted under the Constitution and the other Acts of Parliament, constitute gross misconduct. Hence, this paper will analyze police killings as a form of gross misconduct.

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What Is Police Misconduct?

Police misconduct refers to the acts that account to an excessive use of their lawfully granted powers under the constitution and Several Acts of Parliament (Hirschfiled and Simon). To the extent that these acts amount to usurpation of their powers, it is deemed illegal. Any police officer indulging in acts of police misconduct commits offense of obstruction of justice and negligence of duty and is therefore liable to both civil and criminal prosecution. Thus, the non-governmental organization and other civilian agencies have embarked on the fight against these acts of misconduct through investigations with a view of exposing the people behind it. With the technological advancement, people are getting more enlightened about their rights and are determined to eradicate this habit. Today, police brutality is exposed through the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and what’s App (Hirschfiled and Simon). Examples of the police misconduct include unwarranted arrests, giving false testimonies in courts, mutilating court evidence, engaging in corrupt activities, sexual abuse, mass killings, etc.

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Police Killings as a Form of Gross Misconduct

In the United States of America police killings, which amount to the use of excessive force, are allowed by the Constitution and Acts of Parliament of various states. However, the improper use of these powers can lead to gross misconduct of police officers and lead to their prosecution. In the case of Tennessee v Garner, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled that the use of force which includes the police killings must be exercised in accordance with the law (Paul & Simon, 2010). Any police officer who,therefore uses excessive force arbitrarily, faces the full force of the law including the termination of his job. The limits within which the use of force may be termed as legal is therefore left for the legal and administrative bureaucracies. The use of excessive force should never be applied unless the police officers face a situation when there is threat or danger to their lives.

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There is a difference between a justified killing, or homicide, and unjustified one. The latter can be achieved through the act of misconduct. Therefore, the civil society takes up the initiative to question and demand independent investigation to be done in any event where the circumstances regarding the murder of an individual are unknown or raise numerous doubts and inconsistencies. However, the majority of such investigations end up covering the involvement of the officers into something which denies justice to the victims. There is one major challenge facing the fight against police misconduct; it is the fact that there are no adequate laws that meet the international human rights standards in dealing with the use of excessive force. In the United States of America, for example, Amnesty International in its fight to eradicating unnecessary police killings warned that the US faced a very major crisis in the way the laws regulate the use of force are drafted (Hirschfiled and Simon). These laws violate various international human rights instruments.

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How Widespread Are Police Killings?

The Guardian newspaper in the United States of America runs annual statistics about brutal killings by the police for attention by the concerned parties. Although establishing the accurate number of the police killings proves to be problematic due to the lack of the political goodwill, several organizations have taken the responsibility of coming up with an estimate of the same. According to The Guardian newspaper, the number of unwarranted killings through the use of force in America stood at 1140 in the year 2015 which indicate a significant increase in this kind of misconduct in America (“The Guardian’s View”). The Guardian shows that the increase is  witnessed not only in America but in the rest of the world as well. One of the key contributors to this is the enactment of laws which violate the internationally recognized human rights standards.

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Even though the office of the Attorney General received a request from the Congress to investigate and compile an exact list of all the incidences of police killings in the America, the same has never occurred for unknown reasons. Some argue that if the report were to be released, it would compromise the peace of the American citizens as it is likely to spur hatred and ridicule against the police leading to a state of Anarchy.

According to the statistics from the Bureau of Justice in America, the average number of the police killings in America equals to 930 people annually. The Washington Post also estimates the killings at 937, which makes the figure more reliable. A further breakdown by The Guardian newspaper indicates that the blacks were the most prevalent victims of police killings due to the racism and the fact that most black people are unarmed as compared to the white people. In the statistics done per a million people, the blacks lie at 7.2 compared to the whites whose rate stands at 2.92 (“The Guardian’s View”). The second most affected by the killings are the Latino or the Hispanic people with the rate of 3.5 per a million. The third most affected American community is the Native Americans at a rate of 3.4 per a million. The whites follow at 2.92 while the Asians constitute the least affected group at a rate of 1.34 per a million deaths (“The Guardian’s View”). The police killings, therefore, differ in various parameters of race, ethnicity, gender grounds, etc.

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Further research done by the Bureau of Justice indicates that 4813 people are roughly estimated to be killed by the police in very unclear circumstances from the year 2003 to the year 2009. These people are perceived to have died in the course of the police arrests. Out of these deaths, it is estimated that 1643 people were people of the black race.

In the majority of countries, the police take advantage of the protests to commit many killings. Ian Tomlinson was aired on television being beaten ruthlessly by the police in the United Kingdom. In India, the death of Udayakumar that led to the Rajan case is another classical example of police brutality. During the widespread Hong Kong protests, many civilians went through numerous tortures as the police used buttons to dismiss them. Several people were wounded, and the others died as a result of the incidence. The cases stated above show the magnitude of the police killings not only in America but in the world in general.

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Justification of the Police Killings

The police are lawfully allowed to use reasonable force to calm down rioters or any other criminals. However, the magnitude of the force used by the police differs from one circumstance to another. For example, if the criminals are armed with very lethal weapons, the police are allowed to use an equal force to calm down the criminals (Kaminski and Stucky). The equal force in this incident would, therefore, mean the use of bullets on the criminals. However, the limit of the use of force is controlled by the law and the constitution. Indeed, there are circumstances in which a police killing can be justified. One of the circumstances is when the force is exercised within the parameters of the law (Kaminski and Stucky). If the force becomes excessive it becomes unjustified.

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In the case of Tennessee vs. Garner, the Supreme Court in laying a foundation regarding what constitutes a lawful and unlawful killing by the police stated that it is upon the agencies and other bureaucracies to set the limits of such (Kaminski and Stucky). However, the court indicated that a lawful killing is one that is done within the law. In this case, the Supreme Court noted that, unless the criminals act is dangerous to the life of the police, the police are not justified to use excessive force. The question to what amounts to excessive force and a reasonable suspicion that the criminals conduct is dangerous remains problematic.


Police killings as one of the aspects of the police misconduct have been on a very high increase in the United States of America and around the globe. The act may either amount to a lawful killing or unlawful killing depending on the force used and whether the law was followed in carrying it out. However, in the US the black people are at a very high risk of police killings than any other members of the American society. The reality is that police killings are rife throughout the world; there is the need for urgent intervention.

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