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Police Force

Twenty-seven uniformed officers witnessed this incident from various law enforcement agencies. None of the officers (those individuals who are supposed to protect citizens) made any effort to stop this abuse.(LA Times March 19, 1991 p. A20). The level of escalation even went so far as to call in a police helicopter! (Ironically, the lights from the helicopter actually improved the lighting for the videotape.) The King beating brought complaints from the Mayor of Los Angeles Tom Bradley and national attention from civil rights leaders. Many believed the beating was racially motivated and extended from a pattern of abusive behavior by police towards blacks. (McDonald 1991) This act of violent behavior from police officers has brought many questions to the national table, such as: • Is police brutality on the rise? • Is the police hiding behind their badges? • How does the public view police brutality? • How can we raise public awareness? Is police brutality on the rise? This is an important question to ask ourselves and the police departments. A study in seventeen counties in Northern California indicated that in the past two years excessive force and neglect has resulted in at least seven deaths and fatal injury. (Saari, no date) In fact a nine-month period from August 26, 1996 to June 29, 1997 seven citizens died as a result of police brutality. Sonoma County California currently has the highest rate of custody deaths in the bay area (Saari). In many cases the situation (according to police accounts) has rapidly escalated to a point where police feel the need to use deadly force. Many of those committing crimes are mentally ill. The Sonoma County Alliance for the Mentally Ill advises that police officers in confrontations with people experiencing psychiatric episodes: • Speak calmly and quietly • Slow down the pace • Be willing to repeat yourself • Do not try to hurry a resolution This increase in…

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