Reforming Law Enforcement and Community Interactions
This past week grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Gardner cases have awaken the sleeping America populous to the unexplainable swinging pendulum of injustice that black people face in present day America. It has showcased and made outrageously apparent, the lack of concern for black lives by law enforcement and the justice system. People have been made aware that every 28 hours a black person is killed by law enforcement, security guards and/or vigilantes. It has rehashed scenes similar to the 1960s and represents the tangible real life effects of racial profiling, which has revealed how far America must still go in her pursuit of equality for all.
It has also shown that people are able to come together to demand better in solidarity from law enforcement and government officials. It has shown that there is still a glimmer of hope to be have in humanity. Protests have been taking place since August 9th in Ferguson, Mo. and have spread like wildfires worldwide since the grand jury decision. It is great that everyone notices the problem, but that is not enough. We must come up with tangible solutions.
Here are 5 tangible solutions which I proposed. Take it or leave it, but let’s start talking tangible solutions.
1 – Body Cameras on all police officers
Before you say that cameras didn’t change anything in the murder of Eric Gardner, which was recorded, we must understand the purpose of body cameras. Body Cameras are a proactive and retroactive approach to the situation of police brutality and use of excessive force. It will not eliminate the problem but it attempts to mitigate and minimize the occurrences. Body cameras provide an impartial, unbiased point of view and helps to portray the true events of any incident in a balanced way. Without cameras, police have been given a magical benefit of the doubt, as if they are incapable of having human character traits of self-preservation (trying not to go to jail) or “adjusting” the truth. The Tamir Rice incident is an example of how law enforcement may attempt to misconstrue the events until or without any video evidence. So from an accountability stand point they provide more unbiased description of events. From the proactive stand point, in cities where body cameras use have been implemented, “public complaints against officers plunged 88% compared with the previous 12 months. Officers’ use of force fell by 60%.” – The Guardian, 11/4/2013.
The Effect of Body Worn Cameras on Police Use of Force: http://bit.ly/1B3y8xu
2 – Civilian Review Boards
If one is expected to be held accountable, then we must create an environment in which accountability is second nature. It can be difficult for someone to hold their brother or sister accountable for their behavior and the same concept applies to law enforcement. We can’t expect a law enforcement department to investigate that same law enforcement department (itself) and expect accountability results. Therefore, it is necessary to create a civilian review board, which is ran by the community that the law enforcement agency has jurisdictions over, to hold the law enforcement agency or members accountable to its populous.
3 – Special Prosecutors to every police involved incident or at least murder/death
Prosecutors work with law enforcement to convict or exonerate individuals of crimes everyday. So it is reckless to think that may want to risk having their last year worth of case overturned because of a “bad apple” in the police force. Neither would they want to proceed to their next trial and be required to call that same police officer to the stand to testify to an arrest. So whether we like it or not, it is impossible to expect a prosecutor to be unbiased when persecuting a law enforcement officer who they have to depend on to win their other cases. So a special prosecutor without bias should oversee the case and trial.
4 – Removing harassment and intimidation laws/policies
Policies like the Jump out boys and/or Stop & Frisk, embrace a culture of harassment and intimidation. If law enforcement wants to address crimes, there are lots of crimes that need to be address. A high percentage of violent and property crimes are currently unsolved. Also removing quotas.
FBI Clearances Statistics: http://1.usa.gov/1u1b8It
5 – Oversight of Police Departments
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Police are giving a great amount of “power” over the civilian population when they are given a badge and a gun. So oversight over this power should be a no brainer. Oversight will allow a dissembling of any culture that “embraces” use of excessive force or keeping bad apples around. This oversight should be done by the Federal Government.
Bonus – All states should have sunshine laws to make police reports available to the public. Transparency is key to building trust.
There are some other things that can be done to improve the overall system, for example more training sessions for all law enforcement, creating a National Bar Association and Federal Review Board to revise the grand jury process, demilitarization of local law enforcement agencies, etc. But those aren’t tangible goals with quantifiable results. Making sure that the police force reflects the demographics of their community and lives in the community that they are policing will also help to improve circumstances.
I also understand the daunting task which law enforcement has at hand which is why I proposed these that these recommendation are needed. You can’t protect and serve effectively, if you are senselessly killing your populous and/or the community has no trust in you. I understand that not all law enforcement may be doing wrong, but if you consider yourself to be a “good” law enforcement officer then you should speak up to have the “bad” ones removed and their behavior stopped. They are making you look bad and you become an complicit to their behavior by not speaking up. The time for action is now. Feel free to give your feedback on what you think about my recommendations and/or give some of your own. Together we can change things for the better.