Specialisation: Corruption

Why Do People in the U.S. Always Have a Problem With Law Enforcement?

The relationship between law enforcement and citizens has been complex and fraught in the United States. The public’s trust in law enforcement has been damaged by a lengthy history of police violence, discrimination, and corruption, even though police personnel is tasked with protecting and serving their communities. Police have brought issues of police violence and discrimination to the very front of public talk following high-profile killings of unarmed individuals of color as of late, including those of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Daunte Wright. An unfavorable public opinion of law enforcement has been exacerbated by incidents involving police corruption and abuses of power. These problems have persisted for a long time, and in many cases, they may be traced back to structural racism and a lack of responsibility. The U.S. has a long history of police brutality, discrimination, and corruption, which has eroded public trust in law enforcement.

Police Brutality

Police brutality refers to using excessive or unnecessary force by law enforcement officers when dealing with civilians. According to Duchess’s book, unarmed citizens being shot by police, fatal chokeholds, beatings, and sexual assault by police are all examples of police brutality in the United States. For example, an unarmed individual, George Floyd, was stifled to death by a Minneapolis cop who stooped on his neck for over nine minutes (Duchess). This is one of the most notorious instances of police brutality as of late. Moreover, in another case protests occurred all around the country after videos surfaced of the shootings of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Police brutality is a systematic problem in the United States, as the available evidence shows. Black men are more likely to be killed by police than white men (McFarland et al. 585-600).

On the other hand, in “Black Lives Matter: Police Brutality in the Era of COVID-19,” Tyra Jean claims that structural racism among police departments is to blame for their violence (Tyra). She examines how police associations have battled against changes and how a culture of mystery among cops has kept many instances of bad behavior from being uncovered. The findings suggest that police brutality is widespread and disproportionately affects communities of color in the United States (Tyra). Systemic reforms targeting institutional racism within law enforcement and increased accountability for police officers who use excessive force are needed to solve this problem.


Law enforcement discrimination in the United States has been an ongoing problem, especially for members of racial and ethnic minorities. Racial profiling, the surveillance and harassment of communities of color, and the unequal application of laws and policies are all historical examples of discrimination by law enforcement. In addition, there have been various ongoing occurrences of discrimination by policing, such as the killings of unarmed individuals of color and others of variety by cops. Members of minority groups are disproportionately targeted by police brutality and bias. For instance, the racial disparity in police stops, searches, and arrests persists even after adjusting for characteristics like crime rates and neighborhood demographics, as shown in research by Renauer (219-240).

In their article “Trauma and U.S. Minority Children and Youth,” Andres J. Pumariega and coauthors make the case that minority children and youth in the United States are disproportionately affected by police violence and discrimination, negatively affecting their mental health and well-being (Andres 285-295). They call attention to the fact that children from minority populations are exposed to trauma from police brutality, which can prompt long-term mental and actual medical conditions which reveals that bias towards minorities in law enforcement is a severe problem in the United States. More accountability for officers who engage in discriminatory behaviors is needed, and systemic reforms are required to combat institutional racism within law enforcement agencies. Systemic racism in society must also be confronted as part of this.


In the United States, police corruption is a significant issue threatening the public’s faith in law enforcement. Bribery, stealing, abusing one’s position of authority, or resorting to extreme force for gain are all examples of corruption. Law enforcement corruption has extreme ramifications for society, including lessened public certainty for policing powerlessness to battle wrongdoing. A large body of evidence demonstrates the pervasiveness and results of police corruption in the United States. According to David Jancsics’s “Corruption as Resource Transfer: An Interdisciplinary Synthesis,” corruption is best understood as transferring resources from one party to another. Police corruption occurs when officers abuse their position of trust by demanding or accepting bribes or other forms of payment in exchange for favors or protection (Bryant‐Davis 852-871). Especially in low-income or minority neighborhoods, where corruption is more common and can exacerbate existing disparities; this can have a major influence on the community they serve. In the United States, police corruption is a major issue that damages public confidence in law enforcement and hinders its ability to do its job. Transparency and responsibility inside policing, as well as expanded oversight and guideline of police activity are important changes to take care of this issue. The fundamental causes of corruption, such as economic hardship, social disparity, and inadequate funding for law enforcement, must also be addressed.

Systemic Issues

Problems with police brutality, bias, and corruption contribute to a larger structural issue in the justice system. Minority communities are disproportionately affected by police brutality and face heightened risks of discrimination at the hands of the police. Corrupt police officers may make matters worse by abusing their positions of trust and authority to steal from their communities. Officials who utilize unreasonable power, victimize minorities, or are bad frequently slip through the cracks for their activities. This perpetuates and even encourages a culture of impunity inside law enforcement organizations. Ouellet research has revealed that police officers implicated in excessive use of force or other misbehavior routinely continue working without repercussions (Ouellet et al. 675-704). If other police officers see these actions tolerated, they may feel emboldened to follow suit. This unaccountability is exacerbated by the federal government’s failure to oversee and regulate law enforcement entities adequately.

Poverty, inequality, and systemic racism contribute to maintaining problems like police brutality, prejudice, and corruption. Particularly in currently minority populations, police staff might be more disposed to participate in troublemaking or utilize extreme power due to these elements. Addressing these systemic issues will require significant reforms within law enforcement institutions and broader societal changes. Some examples of this would be making law enforcement institutions more answerable to the public, instituting stricter regulations to curb corruption and wrongdoing, and working to alleviate root causes like poverty and inequality. It will also take an effort to eliminate bigotry and racism from the criminal justice system and society.


While it is true that not all police officers are bad, it is essential to acknowledge that police brutality and discrimination are not isolated incidents perpetrated by a few unethical individuals. Occasions of police ruthlessness or discrimination are incidents that ought not to be utilized to portray policing. Notwithstanding, proof shows that these issues are endemic and influence individuals everywhere in the U.S. Police brutality against racial and ethnic minorities, according to the research of Bryant-Davis et al. (2017), has been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Aside from ignoring the larger context of systemic racism and inequality in the United States, the concept that police violence and prejudice are isolated events is false. Poverty, inadequate healthcare and education, and prevalent discrimination have all been demonstrated to affect minority populations disproportionately. Especially in already marginalized and disenfranchised areas, these variables can create a setting in which police officers may be more prone to engage in misbehavior or use excessive force.

Not all police officers face the consequences for their wrongdoing or excessive use of force, which is something to keep in mind. This absence of obligation can add to the continuous idea of these issues and cause distrust among police and the individuals they are committed to safeguarding. Perceiving the endeavors of police officers to regard the law and protect their communities is fundamental, yet so is distinguishing the underlying issues within law enforcement that enable brutality and bias. Reforms and addressing the root causes of systemic racism and inequality are needed to solve these problems. A more fair and just police force in the United States is possible only via such concerted efforts.

Calls for Reform

In recent years, activists, lawmakers, and public members have brought attention to the problem of police brutality, discrimination, and corruption in the United States, calling for reform in response (Baker 773-800). The recommendations here attempt to make policing more fair and just by addressing systemic problems inside law enforcement agencies. One recommendation is to reinforce checking and responsibility for police departments. This includes the foundation of public data sets to screen police unfortunate behavior and laying out autonomous audit bodies to investigate grievances of bad behavior. Another proposed solution is to address the issue of qualified immunity, which can make it difficult for individuals to sue law enforcement officers for civil rights violations. More accountability for police who use excessive force or engage in wrongdoing would result from changes to qualified immunity. The greater problem of systemic racism and inequality in the United States is the focus of several ideas. This involves funding mental health treatments, low-cost housing, and accessible educational opportunities for underserved populations. Advocates say that a more equitable society can be laid out by settling the fundamental issues that lead to inequality and disappointment. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that these reforms can have a positive impact on communities and law enforcement agencies. Independent review boards have also been found to improve police accountability and openness to the public. There is still a long way to go until the United States has a policing system that is equal for all, but the calls for reform are an essential step in the right direction. The world can move closer to a future in which the justice system treats everyone fairly and equally if everyone keeps pushing for reform and holding law enforcement authorities accountable.

Public Perception

Public perception of law enforcement in the United States is complex. While many people have a favorable impression of police and appreciate their efforts to keep communities safe, others view law enforcement skeptically. The media’s portrayal of law enforcement can either increase or diminish public confidence in the system, contributing to the disparity between the two extremes. Those who have had positive interactions with law enforcement are more likely to have a favorable impression of the police, whereas those who have had negative interactions may view all law enforcement skeptically. The new public spotlight on police mercilessness and predisposition has prompted a thorough assessment of the police force and its strategies and systems. Because of these investigations, explicit policing has modified its techniques to recover the public’s trust. Media portrayals, individual experiences, and national discussions on police violence and prejudice all shape public opinion about law enforcement in the United States.


The negative public perception of law enforcement has significant implications for society. In particular, communities with a history of discrimination and brutality at the hands of law enforcement will see their trust in law enforcement erode. People are less inclined to report crimes, talk to the police, or help with investigations if they do not trust them. The capacity of policing to explore violations and guarantee resistance from general society could undermine the public’s well-being. Furthermore, for underprivileged communities, having a wrong impression of law enforcement can harm their psychological health and well-being (Richards et al. 352-359). Long-term psychological damage, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, can result from the dread and anguish of police aggression and discrimination. The social compact between residents and the state might fall if there is a lack of trust and poor impressions about law enforcement. Individuals are less willing to comply with regulations and normal practices when they view policing as an involving force instead of public help. The result can be a breakdown in the social order, a rise in criminal activity, and a weakening of communal bonds.

For public security and social harmony, trust between police and communities must be restored. This requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of police brutality, discrimination, and corruption. It also necessitates the active participation of law enforcement in community outreach, concern listening, and reform initiatives. Changes like greater local area management can reestablish trust in police enforcement, utilizing body cameras, improved preparation in de-acceleration strategies, and stricter responsibility for official bad behavior. It is also essential for the media to play a responsible role in shaping public perceptions of law enforcement. Both accurate and impartial reporting can help debunk preconceptions about law enforcement and ensure officers are held accountable for their actions. The media can aid in restoring confidence between law enforcement and communities by advocating for openness and accountability.


In conclusion, the history of police brutality, discrimination, and corruption in the United States has contributed to a negative public perception of law enforcement. While not every police officer has evil intentions, it is undeniable that structural problems within law enforcement have harmed vulnerable populations. A few changes have been proposed to manage these issues, including more outstanding obligation and oversight, local area policing strategies, and taking out the basic reasons for wrongdoing. However, it is essential to recognize that effectively implementing these solutions will require time and effort. Restoring public confidence in law enforcement is critical to the long-term viability of reform initiatives. The ultimate objective should be establishing a police force that protects all citizens equally, regardless of their background or socioeconomic standing.

Works Cited

Baker, Carrie N. “Racialized rescue narratives in public discourses on youth prostitution and sex trafficking in the United States.” Politics & Gender 15.4 (2019): 773-800.

Bryant‐Davis, Thema, et al. “The trauma lens of police violence against racial and ethnic minorities.” Journal of Social Issues 73.4 (2017): 852-871.

Duchess Harris, J. D., and Tammy Gagne. Justice for George Floyd. ABDO, 2020.

Jean, Tyra. “Black lives matter police brutality in the era of COVID-19.” (2020).

McFarland, Michael J., et al. “Perceived unfair treatment by police, race, and telomere length: a Nashville community-based sample of black and white men.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 59.4 (2018): 585-600.

Ouellet, Marie, et al. “Network exposure and excessive use of force: Investigating the social transmission of police misconduct.” Criminology & Public Policy 18.3 (2019): 675-704.

Pumariega, Andres J., et al. “Trauma and U.S. minority children and youth.” Current Psychiatry Reports 24.4 (2022): 285-295.

Renauer, Brian C. “Neighborhood variation in police stops and searches: A test of consensus and conflict perspectives.” Police Quarterly 15.3 (2012): 219-240.

Richards, Nicole K., Eliana B. Suarez, and Jose F. Arocha. “Law enforcement officers’ barriers to seeking mental health services: a scoping review.” Journal of Police and criminal psychology 36.3 (2021): 351-359.