The use of excessive force leads to the development of mistrust and lack of confidence among the law enforcement officers and the public. Extreme force occurs when officers use violence or handle suspects who have surrendered or have not resisted arrest overly aggressively (Rosenbaum 1). The practice has become rampant in the United States due to the absence of a national standard to regulate the application of force by the police. Some of the consequences of the excessive use of force include the deaths and injuries of suspects (Elliot and Pollock 233). Integrity in the police department is essential in promoting an excellent relationship between law enforcement and the community hence it is imperative for the officers to observe the code of ethics that govern their operation.
Types of Ethical Violations that Occur when Excessive Force is Used
Right to Life
Application of excessive force infringes on an individual’s right to life. According to article three of Universal Declaration of Human Right, every person has an inherent right to life hence it should not be arbitrarily deprived (United Nations 11). Equally, the police code of ethics states that police officers are responsible for protecting life, liberty, and security of the citizens.
Right to Freedom from Torture and Ill-Treatment
The use of extensive force when enforcing the law may amount to torture and result in serious injuries or deaths. According to the law, the use of excessive force when arresting or handling suspects is illegal and bears criminal liability (Gül, Hakan, and Ramazan 289). The only time that police officers are allowed to use force on suspects is when they resist or when the officers feel that their lives are in danger, such as when a suspect is armed.
Right to Liberty and Security
Essentially, liberty entails freedom from harm to the body and mind. According to the Human Rights Committee, the right to security protects a person from intentional injury to the body regardless of whether he or she incarcerated or non-detained (United Nations 12). Therefore, the use of excessive force by the officers undermines the duty of officers to provide security and liberty to the citizens. Officers are not only barred from inflicting physical harm but also unnecessary emotional distress.
Policies to Avert the Use of Excessive Force
The policing department needs to create effective strategies to deter the use of extreme force when handling suspects and the public at large. Such policies should entail clear values that elaborate on how the officers are expected to handle themselves when dealing with the public. Equally, developing clear frameworks that indicate when the police are authorized to apply force. Additionally, the authorities should establish both the internal and external checks and balances primarily to ascertain that the law enforcement agencies perform their roles appropriately (United Nations 12). The states should build effective reporting and review measures for all the incidents that involve serious injuries inflicted by the police.
The use of excessive force by the police on the citizens has led to mistrust and loss of public confidence in the ability of the officers to perform their duties, especially protecting the public appropriately. The vice has led to deaths and severe injuries to the public. According to the United Nations, integration of illegitimate force infringes on the right to liberty, life, and freedom from torture, which is against the police code of ethics. The authorities can develop clear guidelines regarding when it is appropriate to use force. Additionally, they should create channels that allow individuals to report incidences of torture by the law enforcers easily. Lastly, those officers found guilty of using excessive force should be punished. Such punishment not only severs justice but also deters future incidents.
Elliot, K. A., and J. M. Pollock. “The Ethics of Force: Duty, Principle, and Morality.” Law Enforcement Ethics: Classic and Contemporary Issues, 2014, Pp. 231-256.
Gül, Zakir, Hakan Hekim, and Ramazan Terkeşli. “Controlling police (excessive) force: The American case.” Journal of Human Sciences Vol. 10, No. 2, 2013, Pp. 285-303. https://j-humansciences.com/ojs/index.php/ijhs/article/view/2660
Rosenbaum, Dennis P. “Special issue on police integrity: an introduction.” Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Vol. 39, No. 2, 2016. https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/PIJPSM-03-2016-0039
United Nations. Resource Book on the Use of Force and Firearms in Law Enforcement Criminal Justice. 1st ed., United Nations, 2014, pp. 1-198, http://https:ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/UseOfForceAndFirearms.pdf. Accessed 28 Nov 2018.