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While we hear about police brutality on the news frequently, and we read blogs like Cop Block, which help us understand that excessive police force is not an isolated phenomenon, sometimes more context is required to get the bigger picture. Pick up a few of these books and arm yourself with the knowledge that police brutality has been deeply entrenched in our system longer and more pervasively than you may have thought.
1. Police Brutality: An Anthology, ed. Jill Nelson
If you want to place police brutality in a historical context, and get several different views on police violence from different people, then look no further than this book. Comprised of twelve different essays, Police Brutality offers readers a multiplicity of perspectives, outlining the circumstances under which police brutality in America began, explaining its ties to racism, and offering potential solutions to stem the rising tide of police violence.
2. Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America by Kristian Williams
Published in 2007, Our Enemies in Blue is hailed as a very well-researched account of police brutality in America, dating police-led abuse from as far back as colonial times. Although many critics find Williams’ conclusion—that the police system should be abolished altogether, replacing the existing setup with volunteer, community-led law enforcement—controversial and naïve, the author still gives readers an interesting insight into possible alternatives.
3. Brotherhood of Corruption by Juan Antonio Juarez
Subtitled “A Cop Breaks the Silence on Police Abuse, Brutality, and Racial Profiling,” this narrative is one of the few books out there that gives an insider’s perspective on police brutality. Juarez, who served seven years as a narcotics office for the Chicago Police Department, tells in shocking detail the extent to which corruption exists within police departments. Most importantly, Juarez explains how a strict interdepartmental code of silence enables police corruption to continue undetected among the general public.
4. Beat the Heat: How to Handle Encounters with Law Enforcement by Katya Komisaruk
Although not specifically about police brutality, Beat the Heat is an informative, jargon-free guide that educates readers about their rights when dealing with law enforcement. Considering that police corruption is so firmly entrenched, many of us average citizens will unwittingly forgo our rights when dealing with forceful, corrupt police. This book lucidly explains what we should know and say when faced with common situations that involved police.
By-line: Jane Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. She writes about free background checks for Backgroundcheck.org. Questions and comments can be sent to: janesmth161 @ gmail.com