State Police Essays

century is fertile ground for attention, focus, and debate on the use of force by police.

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Although men make up the majority of the prison population, rates of women’s incarceration have now outpaced male incarceration at an astonishing pace of two to one since 1980.

This drastic increase of more than 700 percent firmly secures women’s place as the fastest growing prison population and highlights the urgent need for a gender-responsive, trauma-informed approach to female incarceration in the United States.

Some of the country’s police chiefs are beginning to put polices in place that aim to lower the number of deadly shootings by police, citing the need to address excessive police use of force.

Against this backdrop of increasing national attention to police use of force, presents a series of essays that analyze the issues and possible solutions to excessive force by law enforcement officials. Chavis, Professor of Law, Associate Dean of Research and Public Engagement, and Director of the Criminal Justice Program at Wake Forest University School of Law.

There is a general recognition that police reform should include changes concerning people with disabilities, particularly with respect to equipping law enforcement officials to address challenges facing people with mental disabilities.

However, larger questions still remain about whether police departments are fulfilling their basic duties to accommodate people who have disabilities.The panelists highlighted the impact of deadly police force on communities of color and also recommended strategies to reduce violent events involving police.Community unrest surrounding recent officer-involved deaths of unarmed citizens has resulted in a national trend of states and police departments reevaluating their procedures to improve transparency, accountability, and community involvement.It is this kind of policing—and this positive vision of public safety—that I believe our nation wants and needs.In an effort to spur dialogue over possible solutions to excessive police force, the University of Pennsylvania Law School Chapter of the American Constitution Society convened a panel of criminal justice experts to discuss this pressing issue.There must be national professional standards for law enforcement coupled with a higher level of accountability.Police and other law enforcement systematically overuse force in part because few mechanisms require them to consider the social costs of doing so.Soon after Ferguson, polls revealed a lack of public confidence in officers’ abilities to use the appropriate level of force in a given situation.And with continuing media reports on additional police shootings of unarmed minority individuals, it is no surprise that public confidence in police has reached its lowest point in years.Law enforcement officials have also turned their attention to incidents of police use of force.James Comey, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has pointed to the lack of national data on use-of-force events and has stated that obtaining this information is a critical step in addressing unnecessary police force.


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