Police Brutality: The Mechanics of Unaccountability, the Emptiness of Proposed Reforms, and a Paradox of Policing Theory

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Ohio State Law Journal Online


We appear destined to be periodically sickened by videos of the life being beaten, stomped, and choked out of defenseless victims detained by police in poor, minority communities no matter how many people— sincerely or as flak to cover up their indifference —clamor for unity and change. Given our Pollyannaish view that the mission of police is based on the social consensus theory that they exist to serve and protect all communities, we cannot effectively fashion change that will significantly curtail the brutality. This Essay will reveal the hidden practices that police in our marginalized communities have improvised to veil the brutality not caught on video and the psychodynamics of policing that, in addition to racial bias, foster gratuitous aggression. The Essay argues that, consistent with police brutality’s actual underpinning in conflict theory, the most popularly espoused solutions are token palliatives. And finally, it posits that, as a form of community control, conflict theory entails a paradox.

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