12 Articles to Support Your Police Brutality Essay

Police brutality, unfortunately, has been all too prevalent in the news lately. With it being such a controversial topic, chances are you’ll be writing about it in at least one of your classes.

The subject of police brutality isn’t exclusive to criminal justice courses. You might write about the topic in a number of classes, including history, psychology, sociology, and of course, English.

Your paper doesn’t have to be a standard argument essay, either. You might write various types of papers, including a compare and contrast essay, a problem-solution essay, or an opinion essay.

Whatever type of paper you’re writing, here are 12 articles to get you started with the research for a police brutality essay.

12 Articles to Support Your Police Brutality Essay

police brutality essay
“Montreal police brutality protest” by Yannick Gingras, Flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I’ve divided the articles in this list into the following three categories based on subtopics related to police brutality:

  • Law enforcement perspective
  • Historical perspective
  • Psychological perspective

I’ve also included an MLA citation and APA citation to help you cite the articles in case you decide to cite any of them in your own police brutality essay. (Just remember to change any “Retrieved” dates in APA citations to the date you actually read the article online.)

Police brutality articles: Law enforcement perspective

Article #1: Being A Cop Showed Me Just How Racist and Violent The Police Are. There’s Only One Fix.

In this article, writer Redditt Hudson, a former police officer, explains how the danger, stress, and sometimes already-present institutional racism within a police force can perpetuate racism and make officers calloused. He argues that the only way to stop such racism and brutality is to enforce stricter punishments of officers.

Hudson now works for the NAACP and chairs the board of the Ethics Project. This article was published in a respected news source, The Washington Post.

MLA 8 Citation

Hudson, Redditt. “Being a Cop Showed Me Just How Racist and Violent the Police Are. There’s Only One Fix.” The Washington Post, 6 Dec. 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/06/i-was-a-st-louis-cop-my-peers-were-racist-and-violent-and-theres-only-one-fix/?utm_term=.d14ddebd459d.

APA Citation

Redditt, H. (2014, December 6). Being a cop showed me just how racist and violent the police are. There’s only one fix. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/ 2014/12/06/i-was-a-st-louis-cop-my-peers-were-racist-and-violent-and-theres-only-one-fix/?utm_term=.d14ddebd459d

Article #2: Police Brutality: A Statistical Perspective

police brutality essay

Published by Harvard Political Review, this article compares the reality of police brutality to the perceptions of police brutality. The writer discusses the importance of data and how it is used in analysis. The author also acknowledges that data alone cannot explain brutality.

This article easily passes the CRAAP Test because it is timely, written by a respected source, and contains current, unbiased content.

MLA 8 Citation

Suresh, Anirudh. “Police Brutality: A Statistical Perspective.” Harvard Political Review, 4 Mar. 2017, harvardpolitics.com/online/statistical-police-investigation-viewing-police-brutality-data-driven-lens/.

APA Citation

Suresh, A. (2017, March 4). Police brutality: A statistical perspective. Harvard Political Review. Retrieved from http://www.harvardpolitics.com/online/ statistical-police-investigation-viewing-police-brutality-data-driven-lens/

Article #3: Excessive or Reasonable Force by Police? Research on Law Enforcement and Racial Conflict

This article examines the issue of excessive force by officers and includes a discussion of minority communities’ views of police and the importance of officer training. The article also reviews the media’s role in highlighting (and often distorting) individual cases.

Journalist’s Resource, part of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, publishes timely, peer-reviewed articles.

MLA 8 Citation

Wihbey, John, and Walter Kille Leighton. “Excessive or Reasonable Force by Police? Research on Law Enforcement and Racial Conflict.” Journalist’s Resource, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/police-reasonable-force-brutality-race-research-review-statistics.

APA Citation

Wihbey, J, & Leighton, W. K. (n.d.). Excessive or reasonable force by police? Research on law enforcement and racial conflict. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from https://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/police-reasonable-force-brutality-race-research-review-statistics

Article #4: What the Cops Say

The writer of this article summarizes interviews with six police officers in the United States. The writer notes the following:

  • Police feel the media often treats them unfairly by over-publicizing negative actions and minimizing the good that officers do.
  • Police believe many people underestimate the stress of their jobs and the fact that they often face threats to their lives while on the job.
  • Police feel many people have unreasonable expectations of them as officers cannot solve social problems.

The writer also discusses potential solutions to the problem of stigma against police, such as community policing and changing police assessment procedures.

This article can be considered credible. It is published by The Economist, an established news source in publication since September 1843.

MLA 8 Citation

D.K. “What the Cops Say.” The Economist, 27 Apr. 2015, www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/04/policing-america.

APA Citation

D.K. (2015, April 27). What the cops say [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/04/policing-america

Police brutality articles: Historical perspective

police brutality essay
“Police Dog” by Michael Pereckas, Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0)

Article #5: The History of Police Brutality

This article examines racism and prejudice of the 1800s and police brutality from the mid-1900s to today.

It touches on a few key cases and the Cause of Action, which is a “…code [that] gave more power to the Justice Department with filing suits against police departments that engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional conduct.”

MLA 8 Citation

Cosgrove, Abigail Louise. “The History of Police Brutality.” It’s a Mad World, Penn State Sites, 12 Feb. 2015, sites.psu.edu/violenceinamerica/2015/ 02/12/the-history-of-police-brutality/.

APA Citation

Cosgrove, A. L. (2015, February 12). The history of police brutality [Blog]. Retrieved from https://sites.psu.edu/violenceinamerica/2015/02/12/the-history-of-police-brutality/

Article #6: Police Violence Timeline

This timeline is posted by Peoples’ Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability, which is “a New York City coalition of grassroots organizations working in Black, Latino/a and Asian communities.”

The timeline begins in 1845 with the founding of the NYPD and ends in 2014 with Eric Garner’s death. (He was choked to death by an NYPD officer.) The timeline includes a number of brief descriptions of important concerns regarding the NYPD and police brutality.

MLA 8 Citation

“Police Violence Timeline.” Peoples’ Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability, peoplesjustice.org/police-violence/timeline.

APA Citation

Police violence timeline. (n.d.). Retrieved September 13, 2017, from http://www.peoplesjustice.org/police-violence/timeline

Article #7: Police Violence Has Been Going On Forever. No Wonder People Are Fed Up With It.

police brutality essay

Published by the well-respected Huffington Post, this article details a number of examples of police brutality in recent decades. The article also includes videos and a link to a more in-depth discussion of the killing of Michael Brown.

MLA 8 Citation

Bach, Natasha. “Police Violence Has Been Going On Forever. No Wonder People Are Fed Up With It.” The Huffington Post, 23 Aug. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/23/police-brutality-michael-brown_n_5700970.html.

APA Citation

Bach, N. (2014, August 23). Police violence has been going on forever. No wonder people are fed up with it. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/23/police-brutality-michael-brown_n_5700970.html

Article #8: Long History of Police Brutality

This article examines police brutality across decades. The article includes a discussion of key events, such as the Watts Riots, the Black Panther movement, and the L.A. Riots. A number of related videos are also embedded in the article.

MLA 8 Citation

MuniCourts. “Long History of Police Brutality.” Court.rchp.com, 17 Nov. 2015, court.rchp.com/long-history-of-police-brutality/.

APA Citation

MuniCourts. (2015). Long history of police brutality. Retrieved September 13, 2017, from http://www.court.rchp.com/long-history-of-police-brutality/

police brutality essay

Police brutality articles: Psychological perspective

Article #9: The Cop Mind

Published by The New York Times, this op-ed argues that, although police must be held accountable for their actions, the public must also realize the emotional and psychological difficulties officers face on a daily basis.

MLA 8 Citation

Brooks, David. “The Cop Mind.” The New York Times, 8 Dec. 2014, www.nytimes.com/2014/12/09/opinion/the-cop-mind.html?_r=0.

APA Citation

Brooks, D. (2014, December 8). The cop mind. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/09/opinion/the-cop-mind.html?_r=0

Article #10: A Psychological Perspective on Police Violence

The writer of this article references Dr. Moscowitz, a social psychologist, who asserts that it is fear, rather than overt racism, that causes police to act as they do.

Moscowitz states that individuals evaluate potential threats within 200 milliseconds. Further, he argues it is within this “split second [that] one would have to decide whether one should shoot or hold fire.”

This source can be considered credible because it is an academic source published by Lehigh University.

MLA 8 Citation

Stralo, Lauren. “A Psychological Perspective on Police Violence.” Lehigh University, 11 Dec. 2014, www1.lehigh.edu/news/psychological-perspective-police-violence.

APA Citation

Stralo, L. (2014). A psychological perspective on police violence.” Retrieved from https://www1.lehigh.edu/news/psychological-perspective-police-violence

Article #11: Inside the Mind of an Angry Cop

This article, published in GQ, is an interview with police psychologist David J. Thomas. One of the key takeaways in this interview is that police departments do not provide sufficient psychological testing or support for officers.

MLA 8 Citation

Ramsey, Donovan X. “Inside the Mind of an Angry Cop.” GQ, 8 June 2015, www.gq.com/story/police-psychologist-qa-texas-pool-party.

APA Citation

Ramsey, D. X. (2015, June 8). Inside the mind of an angry cop. GQ. http://www.gq.com/story/police-psychologist-qa-texas-pool-party

Article #12: When Cops Kill: The Psychology of Deadly-Force Encounters

The writer of this article, Dr. Laurence Miller, explains that many people wrongly assume that deadly force means the officer has reacted with excessive force. Miller examines a variety of police scenarios to explain how and why officers react to specific situations.

He argues that “it is unfair and unproductive for citizens to assume that all adverse outcomes of police-citizen encounters automatically signal callousness or maliciousness on the part of the officers involved.”

This article is published in PoliceOne, “the most comprehensive and trusted online destination for law enforcement agencies and police departments worldwide.”

MLA 8 Citation

Miller, Laurence. “When Cops Kill: The Psychology of Deadly-Force Encounters.” PoliceOne, 12 Jan. 2015, www.policeone.com/health-fitness/articles/8104031-When-cops-kill-The-psychology-of-deadly-force-encounters/.

APA Citation

Miller, L. (2015, January 12). When cops kill: The psychology of deadly-force encounters. PoliceOne. Retrieved from http://www.policeone.com/health-fitness/articles/8104031-When-cops-kill-The-psychology-of-deadly-force-encounters/

Assignment Complete

police brutality essay
“Protest Against Police Brutality” by Fibonacci Blue, Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0)

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