By: Mohamad Tarabah, MS, CHS IV, CMI, CRC, IAC
In brief: Did terrorism make us terrorists? It is a question that people had been asking
themselves due to the brutality seen from police such as in Missouri, Kansas, and Florida. It is
time for public policy advocates to stand.
Target audience: Police officers, medical investigators, prosecutors, and lawyers.
Program level: Intermediate
Police brutality is an ongoing problem most citizens face at many levels. Citizens have
demonstrated a great deal of understanding on how to react upon being stopped by officers, and
also learned about their legal rights. Police brutality had taken on a great deal with respect to
media and public policy defenders where police officers had gone farther than their job duties,
and reached a limit that affected policing overall. Many officers on the streets had acted
unethically, and led their departments to face a great deal of dilemma. In this report, the author is
talking about excessive force, false arrest, unreasonable search, and how potential suspects are
being treated while in police custody.
Keywords: Police brutality, terrorism, traffic citation, police custody.
Many people around the United States and the world use public and private methods of
transportations for reasons such as shopping, commuting to work or school, and leisure. When
citizens leave the house, they are not aware of what could happen to them while in route to their
designated location, and since they are so busy with their daily life stresses, they tend to make
infractions or crimes that could alter their lives totally.
Imagine you are driving in a rural area and because of your ringing cell phone, you do not pay
attention that you had just crossed a yellow light that turned red in less than two seconds. Less
than a minute later, you see a police car with bright red and blue lights in your mirror, and then
you decide to stop like any law abiding citizen.
When the officer reaches your car, he professionally asks for your driver license and
registration, and he informs you why you had been stopped. Since you were busy with your cell
phone, you decide to tell the officer that you did not commit the offense he had stopped you for,
and the scenario gets farther and farther. Since the officer has a high sense of security for himself
and the community, your conversation with him ends up by him asking you to descend from the
car, and have you arrested for obstruction of justice.
Hearing the aforementioned words make your adrenaline levels go sky rocket, and your
conversation gets louder since you are thinking of what would happen to your future. While
effecting the arrest, you keep pleading not guilty to his allegation, but suddenly you see yourself
surrounded by a dozen of officers, and they are all trying to hold you down; if not using force to
Upon reaching the squad car, one officer keeps reading your Miranda rights, and you notice
that he is pushing you into the car since he thinks you had acted improperly. Upon reaching the
station, you are left alone in an interrogation room waiting for someone to knock the door and
enter. Now, remember that you were trying to talk to the officer to give you a break, but because
you talked, you ended up where you are.
It is important to notice that police brutality does not only occur when force is used. Police
brutality can take many different shapes such as excessive force, false arrest, unreasonable
search, while in custody, and even verbal conversation. Since the officer in this case decided to
keep talking and not listening to you, he decided to make a false arrest in order to prove that he is
in power, and that your words are not heard. Again, you are trying to understand what had
happened and how your life cycle would go from there, but you see that a dozen other officers
are pulled from their patrol just to arrest you for your infraction rather than be pulling drug
dealers, thieves, and felons.
Many studies have shown that while in police custody, people suffered from unethical
maltreatment from officers who are supposed to teach ethics and protect citizens. In Figure 1.1,
the data shows that a female suspect had been handcuffed, does not pose any threat to the
standing officer, but received a kick to the head. Many officers do not think that their actions
could lead to a bigger problem such as a medical one. The kick caused by the officer to the
woman's head could have caused her a concussion to the head, internal bleeding, or loss of
consciousness. In Figure 1.2, the data shows that police brutality fits number one on this list with
a rate of 21.3%. The second on the list stands for sexual assault with suspects while in custody.
The study does not specify whether the percentage given stands only for the police departments
or if it includes the Department of Corrections.
Figure 1.1 Figure 1.2
Source: Police Brutality Statistics Source: National Police Misconduct Reporting Project
Other studies show that upon being arrested, potential suspects had been pushed into the
squad cars after being beat up; not caring for their health issues or what their mental status is.
Figure 2.1 shows how a mentally ill person was beaten heavily to where he had suffered
hematoma in the eyes, and bruises in the lower lids. Nonetheless, upon reaching the precinct,
many investigators or police officers decide to keep them for a long time inside an interrogation
room to get them tired so they confess to what they had done. Figure 2.2 shows how an arrested
female subject was peppered sprayed and was stripped of her clothes in the presence of a female
and male officer. Was there only one female officer at the precinct? Can it be more ethical and
maintain the subject's privacy.
Figure 2.1 Figure 2.2
Source: Pamer, M.(2014) Source: Indiana Sheriff's Department, 2014
What are the costs?
Following an altercation with police officers, many incidents take place at a split of a second.
Many victims had received calls from media, lawyers, and policy makers to see how they could
make the case as big as possible, and gain media interest. Costs for such cases are not small on
the level of compensation neither at the level of degrading the police department. For example
Baltimore City police have grappled with excessive force complaints. Now an exhaustive
Baltimore Sun investigation revealed more than 100 people have won settlements and judgments
that, along with legal fees, cost city taxpayers $11.5 million over the past four years. (Columbian
Broadcasting System, 2014). In accordance to the police degrading, research shows that many
citizens prevent calling the police when they need help. They tend to fear that their freedom
would be taken if they speak. Citizens are realizing that with the increasing rate of corruption,
many officers would want the day to be done, and all go home safe and sound regardless if they
were fair or not.
Nonetheless, the cost does not stop on department, and financial costs. Many media operators
tend to take the cases to higher levels allowing them to reach internationally; affecting our public
policy and foreign affairs. (HUFFPOST SAN FRANCISCO, 2014). The United States had been
losing credentials with the world since what is going on our soil is causing foreign countries to
disregard our opinions, and recommend fixing our own problems.
What reasons played a role to brutality?
Since the attacks on the World Trade Centers, law enforcement officers at the city or federal
levels had taken many steps to deter future attacks of such kind. These steps constitute of
extensive training, new technologies, and communication standards. The aforementioned attacks
had caused nearly three thousand people to lose their lives in addition to other citizens losing
their jobs, and suffered from medical issues such as the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Due to
the same attacks, many people had lost their beloved ones since Congress decided to launch
attacks as a revenge to what had happened. Many officers who patrol our neighborhoods had
either been drafted or has someone fighting outside the United States.
As previously mentioned, the attacks had brought together many police departments together.
Training, interagency collaboration, and sharing of information had been playing a role in the
deterrence of such attacks like the ones we almost had in New York or other states. (Discover
Policing, 2011). Changes were also seen at the level of department policies such as the power to
arrest, search and seizure, and heightened security senses.
The drop down in economy, increasing terrorism threats, and the expansion of social media
had all played a major role on how police officers treat citizens. Although, nothing should have
affected the ethics of a person who took an oath, it is very sad to see it taking place. In addition,
the main goal of the Department of Homeland Security and Joint Terrorism Task Forces is to
stop anything that could alter the welfare of the country under the umbrella of emergency
procedures. Since police officers have had the opportunity to train with federal organizations, it
is now a set rule in their minds to see and check first for terrorists, especially if the stopped
person is from a different race. Nonetheless, with the heightened level of security, officers do not
want to take chances, and allow what had happened prior to the September, 11th attacks to take
What could have been done?
If the sense of security had been high previously like it is right now, there would have been
big chances that the attacks on the World Trade Centers would not have taken place. Some high
profile terrorist had been involved in traffic stops where training could have been the dead end to
future attacks. For example, Ziad Jarrah had an altercation with police in Maryland on September
9, 2011, Mohamad Atta in Broward County on April 2001, and Hani Hanjour in Arlington on
August 2001. (Cable News Network, 2001). Little later after the traffic stops, Mohamad Atta and
Marwan al Shehhi were injured by a chemical that required medical attention. Their hands
appeared to have been placed in bleach, raising suspicions that they were infected from
processing biological weapons (Associated Press, 2007). The treating doctor or emergency
facilities did not report the cases since they did not have training in such cases, and/or training in
incident response like most hospitals have right now.
It is important to note that the attacks had taught many Americans how to prepare through
training, had brought many agencies together, and prevented the country from many planned
attacks. Police officers should possess more training on ethics, and should not treat everyone like
a suspect. Not everyone who tries to understand why he/she being stopped for does not condemn
the person as a terrorist. It is important upon officers to realize that the emergency procedures do
not cover an officer when he/she goes past their job duties, and cause grief pain to subjects. It is
also important upon them to understand the final reactions of their doing in accordance to media,
public policy, international views, and financial law sues.
About the author
Mohamad Tarabah is from Dearborn, Michigan. He serves as the Director of Public Safety for
a private company, and he is in charge of surveillance, security, investigation and training.
Mohamad possesses a Master of Sciences in Forensic Biomedical Engineering, and a
professional diploma in investigations. He is certified in Homeland Security at the level of
infrastructure security, weapons of mass destructions, and incident and terrorism response. He is
also a Certified Medical Investigator in addition to being certified as a Crisis Response
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