After watching George Floyd get murdered by the police, it appeared that people felt pushed over the edge and started to act. Racism was no longer to be tolerated. The protests that followed over the last few weeks has had major impacts across the country in unexpected ways. Mostly innocent protesters of all stripes have been subject to the brutality of local police forces. Now more than ever, people are calling for genuine police reform.
Democrats recently released their police reform proposal. Although it’s supported by the Congressional Black Caucus and the House Judiciary Committee, it still comes off as weak. The bill, according to NPR, would “prohibit the use of choke-holds, lower legal standards to pursue criminal and civil penalties for police misconduct, and ban certain no-knock warrants. The plan would also create a national registry to track police misconduct.”
If genuine police reform is needed, this bill just won’t cut it. Yes, it is far better than nothing, but at a national level, nothing is what you’re going to get under the Trump Administration. It’s best to wait until after November and do things properly.
In the meantime, there have been several other solutions passed around media outlets and presented to the American people. Most of these options are coming from network guests who have law enforcement or military backgrounds. Perhaps the solution does not lie with theses so called experts who once were or are still players in the system.
The main points of contention is that the police departments should be defunded, demilitarized, and their unions should be weakened. Those debatable positions go along with the more obviously solutions like better screening, better training, etc.
First off, the country’s eighteen thousand police departments must be demilitarized, no question. All this talk about how Trump should send in the troops is moot because they are on our streets now with different colored uniforms.
Just like our politicians, the masses should not fear the police, they are supposed to be there to serve us and our communities. Their appearance suggests that they are no longer on duty to protect the peace, but to oppress the people.
The police unions are a more complicated matter. As a progressive, it angers me that liberals are attacking police unions as a whole. Unions, police or otherwise, are of great benefit to society. They increase wages and benefits for people across the board, as an example.
The main problem in almost all unions, is that they tend to protect the bad apples from disciplinary action. In police departments, it can have deadly consequences, but that is no reason to target the whole union. The problems run deeper than simple bad apples and there are work-arounds as I will explain.
But first, we need to talk about the call to defund the police. If it pertains to demilitarization, then I’m all for it. Demilitarization aside, the police is one of the only public institutions that are funded at adequate levels. They just don’t put their resources in the right places. For instance, the war on drugs. The funding would be better served elsewhere, like fighting corporate/political corruption.
I believe the main obstacle to what ails America’s policing problem is democracy, or a lack there of. I am a firm advocate that the police that patrol our streets should be held directly accountable by the citizens they patrol. It would be a start anyway.
For those under the rank of Major for instance, policemen and women should need to face the wrath of voters every few years. They don’t need to run a campaign against other cops, they will be judged on how they are perceived to police their community. If they receive more negative votes than positive, they’re out. No union would be able to protect them. If they ever want back in, they will have to prove to their community they’re worth it.
As for the majors, commissioners etc. they’ll still get nominated from within the police department or mayors office, but they’ll still have to face elections. Why not? Sheriffs have been doing it for centuries, long before the police even existed. Police reform at its purest.
If this idea is ever brought into law, it will face its slew of other challenges. It’s a step forward however. It may just succeed where unions, politicians and even citizen review boards have failed.
I don’t think there is a better way of putting a check on police power while at the same time forcing them to have a larger role within their community. We know the need is there. We know the budget is there. All we must do is act.
This being more of an opinion piece, let me know what you think in the comment section below. Police reform solutions are impossible without ideas.