Americans have recently been divided on a number of social issues, but none have divided public opinion as quickly the topic of police brutality.
Police brutality has been defined by the Legal Dictionary site as “the use of unnecessary, or excessive force by police officers when handling civilians.” In recent news, we have seen instances of this type.
One national example involves an incident between a Utah nurse and policemen. Charge nurse of the the University of Utah Hospital burn unit Alex Wubbels, was confronted by police on July 26 about obtaining blood samples from a patient. Wubbels then explained why the police, including Detective Jeff Payne, could not do this, stating it would require patient consent, warrants or the patient being under arrest to be able to obtain it. Payne placed Wubbels under arrest at the request of Lt. James Tracy. As she backed away, she was then forcibly removed from the hospital.
After footage of this was leaked and went viral on Sept. 1, many came to the defense of Wubbels, especially nurses, eventually leading to justice being served on her part. Payne was then terminated from his hospital duties and job as a part-time paramedic.
Other incidents included a 19-year-old who was the victim of excessive use of tasering by police. Jordan Morris of Ashland City was arrested but recently filed a lawsuit against officers Mark Bryant, Josh Marriott and Jeff Key for “deprivation of civil rights.” Morris cited the use of excessive force and failure to protect, after he was stunned repeatedly with tasers in November 2016, according to The Tennessean. Footage of the incident was recorded through surveillance cameras in the jail.
There is no doubt that there are policemen and women that will do everything in their power to protect citizens and unite their communities for the better. However, there are definitely others that seem to wear their badge as a crown, believing that they are above the law and that they can do what they wish with that “power.” Popular YouTuber Philip DeFranco, coined these men and women as “bullies with badges.” That is also why the Black Lives Matter movement initially came into existence: to protect others from and call out abusive and aggressive policemen that used their badge to target minorities unlawfully and violently.
There was even leaked body cam footage of Lt. James Tracy, the one who called for the arrest of Wubbels, arguing that hospital personnel should have let them get the blood sample because the illegality of it would “go away.” Lt. Tracy’s reaction is a perfect example of law enforcers seeing themselves as above the law.
While it is a shame that the actions of a few police officers have tainted the reputation of great law enforcers, there are still ways to call these abusers out. As a U.S. citizen, you need to know your rights when it comes to being confronted with the police. As Wubbels did, you are allowed to state your rights, as long as you know what they are. A quick Google search can bring you to those answers. Also know that even though there are body cameras on police uniforms, you are allowed to film police as long as your actions are not interfering with their work.
Only when citizens stand up for their fellow men against police officers that abuse their power, will “bullies with badges” get weeded out and allow the true protectors of the law to flourish and better protect and unite society.