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Police brutality is the abuse of authority by the unwarranted infliction of excessive force by personnel involved in various aspects of law enforcement while in performance of their official duties. The term is also applied to abuses by corrections personnel in municipal, state and federal penal facilities including military prisons. While the term police brutality is usually applied in the context of causing physical harm, it may also involve psychological harm through the use of intimidation tactics beyond the scope of officially sanctioned police procedure. In the past those who engaged in police brutality may have acted with the implicit approval of the local legal system, e.g. during the Civil Rights era. In the modern era individuals who engage in cases of police brutality may do so with the tacit approval of their superiors or they may be rogue officers; in either case they may perpetrate their actions under color of law, and more often than not engage in a subsequent cover-up of their illegal activity. The word "brutality" has several meanings; the sense used here was first used in 1633. The first known use of the term "police brutality" was in the New York Times in 1893, describing a police officer's beating of a civilian. (via Freebase)