New York City History : Abner Louima Case

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This was the largest settlement ever paid to a police brutality victim. The settlement closed the notorious case that put a strain between the NYPD and the public. Still today the NYPD faces civil rights allegations of racial profiling.

For years, citizens in and out of the United States have been calling for significant police reform in respect to the disproportionate targeting of minorities, excessive force, and multiple shootings of unarmed suspects. There are thousands of cases every year where unarmed people are shot, beaten, or even suffocated to death at the hands of a police officer. As a result of this, over twenty states have ratified police reform laws in an attempt to prevent excessive use of force. There are disturbing videos all over the internet showing people being mistreated or even shot by officers. Most people suggest that these officers are fully aware of what they are doing and should be held responsible for their actions, while others place blame on the victims. Police violence against African Americans is most common in the United States. Regardless of the circumstances, cases have shown that police brutality can be justified, and it is the black victims who are at fault in the situation. The lack of accountability to the public, coupled with the lack of internal accountability, have led to widespread abuses in power. The Department of Justice has noted that police are better trained in self-defense than they are in community building in the use of non-violent solutions.

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For most of the country, there is simply not enough adequate training focused on de-escalation. Not only are the standards of police brutality different across the board, but even when it is clear, it is almost never prosecuted. Abuses go unreported, uninvestigated, and unpunished, and punitive measures only hurt the community; not the police department. A lot of issues escalate between police and citizens because officers do not like when people talk back to them, or when they do not comply with their demands. Most officers feel threatened because most U.S citizens carry a powerful weapon. This weapon is not a gun or a rifle, it is the smartphone and a voice. The number of police brutality cases and charges have risen because of the invention of the cellphone. If cellphones didn’t exist, people wouldn’t believe half of the things that go on, and the videos are valid proof. Racism, authoritarianism, equality, and psychological issues all come into question when police brutality is a topic of discussion. This subject is a divisive issue and it seems like there is no common ground. It is almost as if the whole issue between citizens and law enforcement is black and white. While there are many law abiding, committed officers who work to protect and serve, as a whole, not all police officers are racist. Police violence occurs more frequently where officers confront armed or violently resisting suspects. Most of these suspects are disproportionally African American.

The use of force by police officers has become a national epidemic. Police misconduct needs a systematic reform. Police officers should only use lethal force when it is necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death. While internal bias plays a role in the staggering statistics of police violence against minorities, training should have a role also. One approach to reduce the problem of police violence against civilians is de-escalation training. By learning how to slow down and reduce the intensity of a situation, police would be able to find non-lethal outcomes. This approach saves lives, especially when dealing with mentally ill, disabled, or non-English speakers who may have trouble understanding instructions from police officers. In addition to improving training we must hold police officers accountable when they injure or kill unarmed civilians.

Despite the fatal amount of police violence caught on camera, it is still difficult to get a conviction. It can be difficult to get a conviction even with video evidence because first, formal charges must be brought. The prosecutors may feel pressured not to charge the officers they work with and rely on, and judges and juries often seem reluctant to convict police officers who have been charged. You do not have to be a prosecutor, lawmaker, judge or police chief to make a difference. Getting involved in at the local level and learning the use of force policies with your local police department can be a step in making a change. Another way to possibly reform police violence is the use of body cameras while on duty. Forcing officers to record their interactions with the public will deter things like police brutality, racial profiling, and the abuse of power. They will also hold all parties within a police investigation accountable for their actions and eliminate he said/she said confusion that comes out of situations. With this positive way of policing there are some negative aspects.

Critics argue that body cameras may raise discretional issues such as footage of a suspect’s home or office being on the news without their consent, or even places where a reasonable person would have an expectation of privacy like a bathroom or locker room. Innocent bystanders are also at a risk of possibly being recorded as police actions are happening around them. Lastly, there is the possibility of a video of an arrest being a part of public records even if you were never charged with, or found guilty of a crime. Another way to put an end to police brutality is to build a trusting relationship between officers and citizens. Police officers should be able to work with their local communities to build trust so that citizens would not be afraid or despise law enforcement. There should be a mutual relationship of respect and trust between community members and leaders who protect and serve. Community policing is a way to build this trust among local residents. Community policing is a model of law enforcement that creates relationships with the community and addresses underlying problems rather than simply enforcing the law (Pollock, p.121).

In community policing initiatives, officers are required to inherit a proactive approach by building ties and working closely with the public. Working as a public servant is crucial to earning the trust of the community. Community policing needs to be a priority in all departments. Whether you are an officer or not, society does not need to have an “us versus them” mentality. Community policing is such a crucial part of the job. It is riding through neighborhoods and getting out communicating with people as they are doing yard work, asking them about their day, helping the elderly, and even introducing yourself. By being nice to people, you are not only improving conditions for the police and community, but you are also improving it for future generations. Future generations are going to change based on how we treat each other. Having a positive attitude could possibly change a person’s perspective on law enforcement. This is where community policing starts.

To a certain extent, there is a presence of police corruption throughout various law enforcement agencies. However, we as a society cannot paint all officers with the same colored brush based off the actions of a few. In this same regard, we cannot assume that all officers are morally good. These officers need to be handled individually and not as a collective. On the same hand, self-accountability within a society needs to make a comeback. Because of mainstream media, society places a pre-conceived notion about how officers are supposed to act. What we can conclude from all this is that it is important for law enforcement agencies to only hire those who demonstrate strong moral values and ethical beliefs. Unfortunately, despite the efforts to achieve this, occurrences of police misconduct in some cases cannot be prevented. However, not only should they maintain a high standard of ethical conduct to deter the presence of police misconduct, but public trust can be strengthened, which thus helps ensure the safety and tranquility of our communities.

It has been over two decades since the incident of Abner Louima sparked protests, police reform, and strained a relationship between communities and law enforcement. Many people are not aware of this traumatic incident, or even know who Abner Louima is. This case was a major event in New York City history. Louima, a married father of three, moved on with his life and now lives in Miami Beach, Florida running a real estate business. Since then he has used some of his settlement money to establish a nonprofit organization to help his impoverished homeland of Haiti by building hospitals and helping to pay school tuition. Abner Louima has joined Rev. Al Sharpton in his anti-police-brutality crusade, protesting alongside the minister to combat police brutality (Greene, 2007). He is considered someone who succeeded in life despite suffering from personal tragedy, becoming a role model for all police brutality victims. Today Abner Louima wants to teach people that they should forgive, but never forget, not to have hate for cops because they are not all the same, and to remember that although some officers are bad, they should not judge the entire Police Department based off what happened to him.

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New York City History : Abner Louima Case. (2021, Apr 16). Retrieved from