Dr. Samori Swygert: How Do We Fix Police Brutality?

Bad_CopsBy: Dr. Samori Swygert

One of the benefits as taxpaying citizens is the provision of public safety.  Tax revenue finances the payroll of police departments.  Police officers take an oath to serve and protect the citizens.  The police have a fiduciary obligation to stop, and prevent crime.  The title of a police officer carries a form of valor and respect, because they place their lives at the frontline of defense against criminals that lack respect for the rules and regulations that govern the rights of law abiding citizens.

My concern is the abuse of the badge.  Cops are allocated privileges that the average citizen can’t exercise.  Certain police cases force me to contemplate the abuse of privilege, over-exercising of authority, and the corruption of duty.  I worry about the perversion of privilege with police officers, and the malfeasance behind the “Blue Wall of Silence”.  I’m a reasonable and rational person.  I’m aware that certain operations and investigative strategies may require nontraditional methods of catching criminals.

What happens when privilege and authority are compromised? How do officers operate under the influence of bias, racism, financial incentives, substance abuse, mental illness, and pure power rush?

I think of case studies like: Oscar Grant, Rodney King, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, Ramarley Graham, Sammie Davis Jr (Macon, Georgia). Now handcuffed are men dying from alleged “self-inflicted gun shots” to the head (Chavis Carter).  This makes you ask, “Are cops stopping and frisking David Blaine?”

Scores of police are indicted annually on participating in drug conspiracies.   There was a NYPD officer (Gilberto Valle III) accessing a National Crime Center database, to track potential female victims to cook and eat in a cannibalistic plot!

The overkill of unarmed citizens with a barrage of bullets is an increasing trend.

The investigations are poor, and explanations are shoddy.  The loss of family members over a mistaken cell phone, or shouting match with police officers typically results in desk duty, and loss of gun privileges for a few months.

Where is the accountability?  It will require the bravery of cops to expose cover-ups and scandals, like Frank Serpico of the NYPD in 1971.

With Stop and Frisk, police are overexerting their authority on innocent citizens in most stops.  Many Black and Latino citizens are stopped and harassed for no reason.   Statistics for stops and arrests were conducted. Whites and Asians stopped by police compared to Blacks and Latino were staggering single digit percentages.  Failure to practice policy homogenously and uniformly across state demographics is discrimination.  This style of policing is unethical.

Unpredictable ramifications occur when racism is deputized by a badge.  April 15, 2011 a NYPD cop named Michael Daragjati in Staten Island, New York, falsely arrested Kenrick Gray because he didn’t like Mr. Gray’s response.  Mr. Gray spent 2 days in jail.  Officer Daragjati was already under investigation by the FEDS for a prior incident.  He was recorded bragging that he “fried another n****r”.  This officer used his position of authority to manifest his own racial hatred and bias.   Officer Daragjati engaged Mr. Gray in plain clothes.  Why would citizens submit to the commands of a person they don’t know is an officer? Citizens nationwide are being victimized by this style of policing.  Many citizens have criminal records because of this.

A Chicago police officer Gildardo Sierra shot a man over 3 times in the back while on a parkway on June 7, 2011.  What underscores this case is this officer admitted to consuming several beers before starting his patrol shift.  This shooting was also this officer’s 3rd shooting and 2nd shooting death in a 6 month time frame. How do you admit to drinking several beers and performing a patrol?  First, driving under the influence is a crime.  Second, you shoot a man in the back over 3 times, and kill him while under the influence of alcohol, and get off!  The scales of justice need to be recalibrated, HELLO!!!!

The moment police remove the right to due process, and authority of the judicial system, the fragility of citizen’s lives dangle in the hands of officer’s mood swings.  The legal system was created for a specific reason.  The system allows discourse and mitigation in a controlled and legal atmosphere where people accused of violations can defend their positions without the threat of death.  Police officers should not play lawyer, judge, jury, and executioner.

Many officers get verbally, and physically aggressive if a citizen doesn’t respond in the exact verbiage the officer prefers.  Many cops precipitate altercations with condescending tonality and behavior that automatically belittles the very citizens that pay their salary.   The disrespect provokes a response, which usually results in calls for back up, guns being drawn, and arrests being made.

Many police videos reveal officers firing a barrage of bullets at unarmed citizens that were at nonthreatening distances, as if shooting a gun is their only alternative.

I think officers should undergo quarterly mental health screenings in a public hospital to avoid potential influence or corruption of results and diagnoses. This is important because they operate a lethal weapon.   Mental illness diagnoses and antipsychotic prescriptions should be furnished to the police department, so departments can conduct effective risk management strategies.   War veterans have developed PTSD and other mental illnesses from their experiences.

Many times courts behave as if officers are undisputedly right and flawless.

Officers should take Breathalyzers, mouth swabs, and blood samples pre and post duty to detect the consumption of alcohol and other drugs (if diabetics can take blood samples 3-5 times a day, why shouldn’t someone with a lethal weapon.  Laws should address multiple officers firing at once.  There are numerous cases of overkill and excessive force like Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, or Timothy Russell in East Cleveland.

I’m not trying to besmirch cops.  My objective is to generate constructive solutions from the readers in the comment section for improvement strategies to be implemented.  Tell us some practical techniques that can be implemented in policing.



15 Responses to Dr. Samori Swygert: How Do We Fix Police Brutality?

  1. I’m trying not to sound pessimistic but obviously where my following comments are concerned I may have failed; there is no solution, as long as white supremac*y rules the day.

    The way to change this brutal reality is not to directly change the attitudes of law enforcement but to change our condition as Black people FIRST through peace with ‘self’, kind & community, and in achieving this we would help turn the tide of ignorance not only within law enforcement but within the judiciary and all other areas of governance and society in general!

    Thats called unity, however the way we act as a people today we don’t seem to be interested in trying to achieve this…there are too many isms & schisms that we would rather live or abide with before we even start think about doing something as proactive as helping to bring about unity unfortunately.

    Along with any other human being on the streets of America Police brutality against Black people in all its forms is most definitely abhorrent and its practice remains to be an infringement of one’s human rights, it should also be regarded as a matter of importance to all to heal internal wounds, wounds which prevents one from functioning effectively within their community and wider society.

  2. We must remove the protection of CORRUPT JUDGES, DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, AND JURORS for any substantial gains can be achieved, every camera should commence, every lawabiding citizen should sue on every situation.

    • @Terry J… You’ve said almost everything that needs to be said… Also I like the *jury demographics should resemble the actual “jury of our peers”… Were even at a time where brutality scene eyewitnesses have their cell phone cameras confiscated and their testimonies discarded by the courts.., There’s even accounts of police surveillance video (being edited) before public viewing… We’re right to converse & examine the flaws & poor quality of judicial & law enforcement., We to need aim laser percison terminations of officials from top to bottom who allow brutality to fester and victimize those w/o money or resources… Seems like after every war these purges of misjustice occur, Until they’re recorded, packaged and presented to the public the right way… The black media & community have volumes, chapters & haven’t produced that “smash-mouth, nose bleed” revelation effectively… Never cared for Wendy Williams much, but she spoke on Kanye & how he should adjust his character publicly in regards to his race… It was tactful, discreet & common knowledge…

  3. I agree with everything that you have stated in your article. I, myself worked for a Police Department Headquarters and I can tell you that there is a culture which encourages police to come into Brown and Black neighborhoods not to protect and serve, but to intimidate, harass, and kill. I worked at the police department as a civilian, and it was because of that culture, that I left my employment with them. Being a human and civil rights activist, I could not understand the mentality of these officers. What was even worse, is that other Black officers joined in without any regard to the fact that they were attacking their own people. Another thing that I found was that if anything went wrong that might cause problems with the Police department, the Black and Brown officers were the first to be blamed and to be fired, if necessary. I agree wholeheartedly that anyone choosing to become a police officer should be subjected to strenuous mental and personality tests and they should be subjected to these tests periodically. A large majority of them do have drug and alcohol problems and some of them are not mentally fit to be carrying a gun. I can tell you that Black and Brown people are targeted and most likely to be killed by a police officer when confronted. This is why most wise Black folk know that from the time their children are able to go to school by themselves, we must talk to them about how they should act when confronted, to ensure that they make it home alive. We also need a judicial system that will not think that it is alright for an unarmed man to be shot more than 50 times by the police and then dismiss this as that police officer doing his job. If a person is unarmed and if the officer perceives a threat to this life, one bullet to the leg will usually take a person down. What we in the Black and Brown communities must do is start protesting when we know that the officer has gone too far in apprehending a suspect. In terms of a handcuffed individual, we should be protesting when a police officer claims that the person committed suicide. First of all, most people whom are handcuffed are handcuffed behind their backs. I find it improbable that they would be able to obtain a gun, get it to some other part of their bodies and shoot themselves. We need to be asking questions as to whether a thorough investigation was done, fingerprints, DNA and just common sense will indicate whether a suicide was likely. One large issue is that the judicial system must take into consideration that police officers are human beings, they come to the job with their own biases, their own problems and this can greatly affect their response to a situation. I am a advocate of police officers being tested periodically to determine if they are still fit to be police officers. Sometimes, something as simple as a divorce can change a person’s entire perspective and that officer can end up angry at the world. We must do something different. I can tell you that when I worked for the police department, there is the blue line until the department get into trouble, then if it can be arranged, that is when the Black and Brown officers find that they were not exactly part of that Blue academy. There are some Black and Brown officers who might talk, but in the end, this is their job and they have families who depend on them for their everyday needs.

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