By Jerome H Skolnick
The now-famous videotape of the thrashing of Rodney King prompted a countrywide outcry opposed to police violence. Skolnick and Fyfe, of the nation's best specialists on legislations enforcement, use the incident to introduce a revealing ancient research of such violence and the level of its survival in legislations enforcement at the present time.
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Additional resources for Above the Law. Police and the Excessive Use of Force
In Chapter Eleven, our final chapter, we consider new visions of policing such as community-oriented and problem-oriented policing, plus other mechanisms of renewal such as a police cadet corps and para-police. And we reflect once more on what we think may be the most important single question in the entire debate over policing in American society, namely, what makes a good cop a good cop? 1 The Beating of Rodney King In many, but not all, Southern communities, Negroes complain indignantly about police brutality.
Virtually all the potential jurors expressed positive opinions of police. About 25 percent had relatives or friends who were police officers. Ventura County is home to many law enforcement officers. Only 6 potential jurors were black; only 2 percent of the Ventura County population is black. Four jurors were members of the National Rifle Association. Another was a registered Republican and a former shore patrolman. The prosecutor’s most promising jurors were Anna Whiting, a fifty-four-year-old printer from a working-class street near the Ventura oil fields, and Virginia Loya, a forty-year-old hospital housekeeper and the jury’s only Hispanic.
One response is to abuse the authority of law to control the “gorillas in the mist,” as one of the Los Angeles cops called those whom he had recently encountered. A better alternative calls for professional training and reasonable restraint. Especially when black, Latino and Asian Americans are increasingly populating United States cities, it is ever more important that the police enjoy the confidence and respect of citizens who populate these inner-city areas throughout the country. When cops use more force than is necessary to carry out their assignment, when they employ excessive force to make an arrest, they undermine confidence in all police and the subsequent capacity of the police to capture criminals and to convict them with police testimony.
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