By Brian Zamora
When an institution created to protect and serve the public is racially discriminatory and excessive in force, it must be reformed so that it may once again become the ally of the people, not the enemy. But until that time comes, the same will occur: one more hashtag for every victim whose life was taken by the police. In the midst of the current political climate surrounding the American public, police brutality is one of our most pressing issues.
The crisis of police brutality is a highly publicized topic in American society; yet, there have been little to no political measures taken to confront the issue. In 2015 alone, the Washington Post reported that law enforcement agencies killed almost 1,000 victims, a statistic that the newspaper compiled after a lack of recorded deaths in part by the federal government.
While many of these deaths are justified by law enforcement protocol, there is a wildly disproportionate amount of African-American deaths at the hands of the police forces. These deaths, which have claimed the life of citizens such as Michael Brown, represent the excessive force and police misconduct of law enforcement agencies nationwide.
Social movements such as Black Lives Matter and Latinos Unidos have brought about a nationwide debate concerning the root causes of and solutions for the police brutality problem.
One common practice which is currently under debate is the stop-and-frisk practice which has been advocated by several police unions as well as President-elect Donald Trump. In states such as New York, this practice aims at eradicating crimes by stopping and investigating people for suspicious activity.
However, there have been mixed results of this practice. For instance, between 2004 through 2012, there was a total search of 4.4 million citizens by the New York Police Department. Among the citizens stopped, 87 percent of them were either black or Latino, according to The Huffington Post. This police procedure is dangerous, especially for diverse communities.
In order to combat discriminatory practices like this, we need the implementation of police reform on a nationwide scale. Such police reform, like the use of body cameras for on-duty police officers and increased discipline, can work to decrease police misconduct and ensure the safety of civilians.
Even with such police reform, the end to police brutality will not be immediate, nor will the effects be quickly widespread in the United States. In order to stop police brutality, a gradual, systematic reform of police protocol through a local, state, and eventually national means will be necessary.