By James Prumos, Trending Writer
Awareness of police brutality in today’s society has increased greatly. This is most likely due to the increase of smartphone and social media usage, allowing one to quickly capture and share a video of an act of police brutality on their phone. One can then quickly post the video to a social media website such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, allowing it to spread quickly to others. Mass media corporations can then broadcast these videos on their websites and news channels, further increasing the video’s prominence. Mass media in particular can profit off of these videos through ad revenue generated from site clicks or through television broadcasts. The public has a desire to learn more about police brutality, because it shatters the widely-held belief that the police are meant to protect the people. Corporations can take advantage of this fact in order to generate profits.
Suppose that one is subjected to police brutality and either is severely injured or dies. The loved ones of the harmed person may want to sue the police officers in question. Lawsuits can cost thousands of dollars, and there is no guarantee that the injured party will win the case and receive money.
However, if the police officers have to pay a settlement, the payment does not come from police department budgets; it comes from the city of the police department in question. This means that the cost of police brutality is paid by taxpayers, and often that there is no change in police department behavior. The City of Philadelphia paid $490,000 to a man who broke his neck while riding in a police van, the City of Oakland paid $4.5 million to a man who suffered permanent brain damage after being shot in the head by a police officer, and the City of Chicago lost $84.6 million from court cases involving police brutality. If the economic burden of overly-aggressive police arrests was placed on the police themselves and not on taxpayers, the departments would have reason to ensure their officers are not overly-aggressive, either through proper training or by dismissal of those who cannot meet standards. In time, this would lower both police brutality and its economic impact.
Overall, police brutality has a significant economic effect on several aspects of society. While mass media, knowing that the masses will tune in, profits off of the suffering of victims through broadcasts, the loved ones of victims are filing suit in court cases and putting their money on the line. If they win the case, taxpayers are held financially responsible for the assault, while the police departments are not as penalized as they should be for their officers’ behaviors. If taxpayers wish to lessen the economic impact of police brutality on them, they should vote for legislation that requires police departments to pay for court settlements.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 17th print edition.
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