How did the Rodney King case help change policing? What lessons were learned? What lessons still need to be learned?

The Rodney King case helped change policing by sparking a movement across the US, particularly in Los Angeles, to end police brutality. The case presented a roadmap to investigate misconduct, allowed the public to see what excessive force actually looked like, and inspired a movement to reform police work. However, there are still other lessons to be learned.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Rodney King case sparked a movement across the US, but particularly in Los Angeles, to end police brutality. King, who was being arrested after a high-speed case, was thrown to the ground by three LAPD officers and brutally beaten, suffering multiple fractures, serious brain damage, and emotional trauma. The police officers were charged but later acquitted, sparking outrage among the people of Los Angeles.

The world has learned many lessons about policing from the Rodney King case. First, the case may have provided a structure to investigate misconduct by police. It also was one of the first times the public was exposed to what excessive force by police looked like, and it clearly shocked people, helping them to understand what it really looks like and what kind of impact it can have. There was also an effort to reform policing across the country, especially through better training and encouraging police departments to connect more closely to their communities.

There are still, however, lessons to be learned. Over the past few years, America has seen numerous instances of excessive or deadly force by police frighteningly reminiscent of Rodney King's case, all met with similar outrage by the community. Activists and concerned citizens continue to call for reform and change to policing.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial