By Veronika Sinou,
Recently, in Greece we have witnessed numerous acts of police brutality, which have caused an outburst of rage amongst Greek citizens. We are confronting the “order above the law” predicament of our current government and people who do not align with that mindset. Being a Greek citizen myself I could not help but wonder: does the law enforcement department operate the same way globally?
We are all familiar with the way the American police operates and its well-known brutality, especially towards colored people. According to The Economist, more than 1,000 people are killed each year in the United States and during the protests for George Floyd’s undeserved death, at least 11 people were killed, hundreds were injured and nearly 10,000 were arrested across America.
These numbers whilst they are incriminating enough for the American police and its disfunction are nowhere near the real number of killings and injuries caused by the American police force.
In fact, we lack basic estimates of the prevalence of police-involved deaths globally, largely due to the absence of definitive official data. Journalists have stepped into this void and initiated a series of systematic efforts to track police-involved killings but have not succeeded.
Countries like Hungary, Greece, Latvia and America have been spending an incomparable amount of their GDP to strengthen the authoritative body of the police. The CFR (Council on Foreign Relations) states that the percentage of state spending which corresponds to maintaining police authority in Greece is close to 1.5% and in America approximately around 1%.
The Washington Post has published an article with the title “Defund the police”, where it proposes to scale back the funds of their police departments and maybe invest more in social programs to avoid similar incidents as the aforementioned. Diverting police funds to other services such as education and mental health care would be indeed an efficient step towards the elimination of police brutality.
Barry Friedman, who runs New York University’s Policing Project, has a simpler suggestion: clear legislation. “Everywhere else in government, we legislate. We set out rules and policies. We don’t just leave it up to the regulated entity to set up their own rules. We should investigate and prosecute the departments that are violating people’s constitutional rights, because in today’s time only few officers face consequences for their actions.”.
- How police Compare in Different Democracies, Council on Foreign Relations, Available here.
- How to fix the American policing, The Economist, Available here.
- Democracy dies in Darkness, ‘Defund the police’ gains traction as cities seek to respond to demands for a major law enforcement shift, The Washington Post, Available here.