Police brutality cases seem to be finding their way into the news more and more these days. Whether it is a trigger-happy police officer who guns down an innocent man who was only reaching for his wallet, or an elderly woman requiring hospital treatment after an over-reactive police officer tasered her in the back, it seems that the problem of excessive force is one that needs to be addressed immediately before it gets worse.
Law enforcement officials in Baltimore, Maryland, are intimately familiar with the negative consequences of police brutality. The city has the eighth largest police force in the nation, which polices 625,000 residents, two-thirds of whom are African American. Instances of police brutality in Baltimore have cost the government millions of dollars in personal injury settlements. It has also marred the reputation of police officers in the area and exacerbated racial tentions -- while causing serious injury to law-abiding citizens.
Baltimore Hopes to Curb Abuse Through Better Policy
On Tuesday, the city of Baltimore released a 41-page paper called "Preventing Harm," which outlines strict rules to prevent police brutality in the area, along with a stringent enforcement policy. The goal is to punish bad cops for inappropriate behavior and thereby prevent good police officers from becoming demoralized. The report includes various instances reported in the Baltimore Sun, where local residents suffered serious injuries -- including broken bones -- when they were arrested.
Baltimore Has Paid $5.7 Million in Lawsuits Since 2011
Since 2011, the city of Baltimore has paid out $5.7 million in personal injury settlements and court judgements for 102 police brutality claims. Interestingly, almost all of the plaintiff victims of police brutality in these cases had the criminal charges associated with their arrests dismissed.
It is the duty of police officers to apply the minimum amount of force necessary in the course of carrying out their duties. Individuals who have suffered injury during an arrest -- even if the arrest was made for valid reasons of suspected criminal activity -- may wish to pursue justice under the law. If too much force is applied given the circumstances, injured victims can seek financial restitution in civil court by filing an excessive force police brutality claim against the city or government entity responsible for the officer or officers who committed the abuse.
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