The City of Angels has a history of police brutality that goes back at least a few decades. This metro area often functions as an indicator of tensions between the public and the police that are present throughout the entire country. The 1991 beating of black suspect Rodney King ended up becoming one of the most important events in the city’s history, especially due to the massive rioting that occurred after the acquittal of the officers who nearly beat him to death. In the years since these events, there have been a number of changes made to law enforcement within the city and around the country, at least partially in response to the horrors created by this one incident of police brutality and its aftermath.
Reforms since the Rodney King beating and L.A. riots
One of the most memorable images associated with the King beating was a group of police officers using metal batons to strike him repeatedly. He was hit approximately fifty times and suffered severe head trauma. After this incident, the baton has become almost obsolete. Police departments realized that the possibility of people capturing images of someone being beaten down with a solid piece of aluminum does not look good, and does in fact cause serious injuries. Less brutal methods are now often used to bring people into custody.
The commission that was formed in 1991 as a result of the King beating also made some recommendations that are in the process of being implemented to this day. Video cameras on police car dashboards were encouraged at that time, and most departments around the country now require either these dashboard cameras, or body cameras that are turned on at all times while officers are on duty. This has proved to be one of the more important legacies of 1991, as constant video taping from these devices as well as cellphones has proved to be both a huge deterrent and important source of evidence in all cases of police misconduct.
Diversity has also been an important topic in law enforcement hiring. The Los Angeles police are now mostly non-white, with many minority officers holding supervisory positions as well.
Unfortunately, there has also been a lack of progress in certain areas. The use of force with guns against citizens seems to have not changed much. Police still routinely discharge their firearms in unnecessary situations, and black suspects have a much greater probability of being hit by police gunfire than suspects of other races.
Keep in mind that violent crime rates both in Los Angeles and the United States as a whole were much higher in the early 1990s than they are now, meaning there should be even less situations that require the use of force. Tools such as tasers have replaced choke holds and batons when interacting with violent or armed suspects, yet even these newer methods have been associated with some injuries or deaths.
Policing definitely has changed, but like any other profession, law enforcement officers do sometimes make mistakes. In this particular line of work, a mistake in judgment is more costly, and can often result in serious injury or death to a suspect.
Get legal help now after an incident of police brutality
If you have been injured by the police in any manner, it may be possible for an attorney to file an excessive use of force case on your behalf. In Los Angeles and other surrounding parts of California, there are experienced police brutality attorneys available to speak to you and prove professional legal help.