A Rutgers study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) concluded that minorities stand a greater risk of death from police action than their white counterparts. The research found that police were 2.5 times more likely to kill young Black men than Caucasian men.
The rising attention to police misconduct deserves serious consideration by all people, especially those at greatest risk.
Greater focus on the issue
New Jersey state officials seek increased transparency for law enforcement procedures. In December 2019, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office began the Excellence in Policing Initiative, which resulted in a program to reduce the use of force by police. In October 2020, the office launched the website, njoag.gov/force, to track and detail every use of force by New Jersey police officers.
Before and after an incident
If possible, individuals do well to avoid any situation that might escalate to the point of police involvement. Since completely avoiding police interaction is impossible, citizens should educate themselves on their rights. When engaging with an officer, a person should respectfully obey any instructions that do not infringe upon civil liberties.
Smartphone and dashboard cameras allow a more faithful recounting of any incident. When law enforcement officers arrive at a location, an eyewitness should video record the interaction. An observer should attempt to record audio if a video is not accessible.
New Jersey law permits recording police as long as the action does not impede compliance with officer instructions. Citizens may wish to invest in a simple stand or dashboard setup to ensure a clear recording can continue during an interaction.
The threat of excessive police force still exists despite recent advancements in civil liberties. Conscientious citizens can arm themselves with knowledge and preparation before an adverse event to guard their rights.