Minority Community Law Enforcement

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Building Trust between Minority Communities and Law Enforcement

Recent news headlines with vivid video evidence of police brutality have inspired debates around law enforcement’s use of excessive force particularly against those in minority communities. Historically, there has been tension between minority communities and law enforcement resulting in mutual distrust. In order to dissolve these tensions and build this trust, policy initiatives have been put in place to encourage accountability and transparency. This paper will discuss the prospects that body cameras offer to help achieve transparency, accountability, and build trust. However, policies promoting transparency and accountability are not enough.

Since minority communities
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Research has shown that Blacks tend to lack faith in the criminal justice system because they feel that they are excluded from fair trials (Jackson 2016). Video evidence is often perceived as a way to “clarify” an incident. However, the African American community learned a long time ago that video evidence can be presented out of context and subject to misinterpretation by jurors. One incident of this occurring was the Rodney King incident of police brutality. Once African Americans believed that they finally had evidence to corroborate their reality and get justice, defense attorneys emphasized minute details to make the beating seem justified (Stuart 2011). Since, juries generally are not familiar enough with editing to recognize this, they believed they had been given the entire context are declared the officers “not guilty”. One way to address this issue is for legal systems to define “excessive force”. There currently is not a concrete definition so that leaves it open to interpretation and easier to justify when used. This is particularly harmful to minority communities because they face a difficult time try to get justice for a wrong perceived as “obvious”. It also solidifies their distrust in the justice system as well as in law enforcement. A standard definition would help jurors decide whether video evidence proves that excessive force was used. Second, a definition of “justifiable” needs to be expanded on. Officers are going to face instances in which violence will be necessary, but leaving this definition as broadly open to interpretation subjects jurors who may interpret video evidence in divergent ways. This also causes minorities to distrust law enforcement and the justice
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