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Knowing when to use force is a vital part of policing

There are times when it is understandable that the police have to use force on someone because of their actions or because others are in danger. However, there are many instances in which police officers misuse their powers.Interestingly, there is no universally accepted definition for the use of force. It is up to the discretion of the authorities to determine how much force is acceptable in any given situation.

The use of force is acceptable when it is necessary. For instance, it is accepted when the officer has to protect themselves. Is also acceptable in a situation where they have to defend another person or a group.

Understanding the excessive use of force

There is never a time when the police or authorities should use more force than is necessary when making arrests. No one should fear being injured during routine traffic stops, getting pinned to the ground for asking questions or tased for standing up for their rights.

Sadly, there are times when the police do use excessive force. In those cases, people get hurt. Sometimes, people are killed. In the majority of situations, a government official should never use excessive force. However, there are instances during which they may exceed the minimum amount of force necessary.

How many people do police kill annually in the United States?

Police in the United States are generally permitted to use lethal force when the situation requires it. In other words, they may need to use lethal force to protect their own lives or the lives of others. In other circumstances, police need to use other less violent means to enforce the law.

The problem is, the line of when lethal force is necessary and/or required can be a fuzzy one. Numerous lives have been lost because of the lack of clarity on this issue, and numerous police have walked free of any consequences for their actions as a result. The bottom line is that a lot of people die in the United States every year as a result of police-caused killings and the problem doesn't seem to be getting better.

Chicago Police Department requires cameras to provide safety

There is no reason that someone meant to protect and serve should hurt an innocent person. Police officers should focus on helping all people, not just people of a certain background. This is certainly a problem in Chicago as well as surrounding areas, but there is some good news.

According to a recent report from Dec. 10, Chicago police patrol officers have to wear body cameras. In previous years, there were no body camera requirements, so there was a potential for officers to abuse their positions. Now, they'll be held accountable with recordings that show exactly what was happening in front of them at the time of any alleged case of police brutality.

The role race plays in police brutality

There are a number of fatal shootings of black people by police within the United States in the media presently. The problem with this can't be understated, but there is an issue. There is very little information on how racial bias impacts fatal police shootings, and because of that, it's complicated to define the true impact race has on law enforcement.

Some studies show that there is an intentional bias. Other evidence points to implicit bias. Whatever kind there may be, the fact is that those of color could face a higher likelihood of being fatally shot or mistreated by police.

Community groups want Chicago police to clean up their act

We can find case after case of police brutality in Chicago's law enforcement records and judicial proceedings. Perhaps your experience was similar to one victim who claims two officers slammed her against a building, pulled her hair and pushed her to the ground.

Multiple community groups have made it clear that enough is enough. The groups, which include Black Lives Matter, initiated a lawsuit last week, claiming that more federal oversight is required to ensure that the Chicago Police Department complies with reforms designed to curb police abuses.

Black drivers twice as likely to be shot after a traffic violation

The movement to protect black citizens from police brutality has been notable. While African-Americans have long protested against instances of police brutality, it hasn't been until the rise in smartphones and videos posted online to Youtube and Facebook that other communities across of America have become aware of the issue.

Chicagoans are not likely surprised by the above statistic, compiled by the Tampa Bay Times, which analyzed police shootings in Florida from 2009 through 2014. Comprehensive reporting on this issue is difficult, and usually involves anecdotal stories that often capture the attention of the nation for a few days or weeks after the shooting.

Wanted: Police for the police

Poll shows public wants independent investigations of police shootings

The spotlight will continue to shine on police misconduct in 2017. That is reflected in a recent Cato Institute poll that shows nearly 80 percent of the American public is in favor of having a neutral third party investigate police shootings and suspected cases of police brutality.

Currently, police keep investigations of police shootings internal. This has led to widespread criticisms of police cover-ups and failing to provide the public with information about fatal shootings.


Jon Erickson of Erickson & Oppenheimer, Ltd. has been selected as one of The Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the Nation! 


July 30, 2014 - The Chicago City Council approved a $600,000.00 settlement with Erickson & Oppenheimer, Ltd. client Maria Munoz yesterday. Munoz was injured when Chicago Police Officer Joseph Treacy "t-boned" her car while conducting a "reckless" high-speed chase of a non-violent, attempt-theft suspect, in an unmarked squad, "without his lights and sirens." The 'black box' recovered from Treacy's squad car showed Officer Treacy was traveling at speeds in excess of 98 miles per hour during the pursuit. Munoz was the passenger in a car traveling in the opposite direction when Officer Treacy followed the suspects car across the center line and into on-coming traffic. 

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