A comparison blog of two proposed solutions to police brutality in the United States: Fix the system!
In a time where common sense isn't that common.
The 8CANTWAIT campaign proposes 8 policies to implement to reduce police brutality and police involved shootings/killings. Upon reading the 8 policy proposals one would naturally take issue as the proposals seem superficial as they barely scrape the surface of what needs to occur to eliminate or severely reduce police brutality and killings. I also would like to note that these policies might work in terms of interactions between police and non black citizens, however, when closely examined on what type of impact they would have on the countless black lives lost at the hands of police they are far from efficient.
Banning chokeholds and strangleholds, requiring de-escalation, requiring the exhaustion of all alternatives before shooting, making it the duty of other officers to intervene, banning shooting at moving vehicles, requiring the use of a force continuum, and requiring comprehensive reporting all provide numerous loopholes for officers to continue to brutalize and kill innocent unarmed black citizens. The issue is, even if these policies are enacted and enforced they are so vague that officers will still be able to use excessive force and be cleared of any wrong doing.
Banning chokeholds and strangleholds is almost counterproductive as it offers no way to enforce this. As in cases where there is no video evidence of this occurring there is room left for the police departments to witness it happening via the review of body cam footage but still be dismissive in terms of disciplining officers and bringing charges against them when they unjustly take a life.
Requiring de-escelation will face a counter argument that there are times where de-escelation is null and void where the officer feels their life is in danger and must act. We have seen this in countless cases where black lives have been lost and the police officer's argument is that they feared for their life. Officer's will argue that there was no time for de-escelation as their situation turned into "it's either me or them." How can an argument of de-escelation tactics stand against an officer who claims they were in fear of their life because they believed the person under question had a weapon, regardless of whether or not it turned out to actually be a weapon. This is an example of many loopholes.
The same loophole exists with the requirement to issue a warning before shooting and to exhaust all alternatives before shooting. These requirements won't hold up against he said she said essentially, or in better words cases where officers feared for their life and shot and killed an innocent person who isn't alive to defend themselves. Officers can also argue that there was no time to issue a warning. This gives a direct excuse for an officer who feels that a black individual is a threat because of the color of their skin to shoot and kill us.
I do agree with the ban of shooting at moving vehicles as that it a safety issue that can lead to immense harm. Shooting at a moving vehicle is like shooting while blind. The bullet can hit anyone and can ricochet and hit unintended targets. I also agree with the requirement of a force continuum and the requirement of comprehensive reporting.
THE ISSUE WITH THESE POLICY PROPOSALS IS THAT THEY OFFER NO REAL PROTECTION TO AFRICAN AMERICANS, BECAUSE EVEN IF THESE POLICIES ARE IMPLEMENTED THERE IS STILL THE CHANCE THAT POLICE OFFICERS WILL ENGAGE IN THESE ACTS REGARDLESS AND STILL NOT FACE PENALTIES.
Next I will discuss my issues with the research basis that was used to develop these policies. The document that discusses the research used to develop these policies via the 8cantwait website states that "research suggests that over the past 40 years more restrictive use of force standards has reduced police violence." This is an interesting point to lead with as blacks continue to be victimized and killed by police officers consistently with very little backlash. The document also discussed a study conducted by James Frye in 1979 on the adoption of the ban of shooting at moving vehicles and using lesser alternatives when possible, i.e. the minimum level of force. The issue with this who gets to decide when it is possible to use minimal force if they aren't there on the scene at that exact moment. The statement "using lesser alternatives when possible,i.e. the minimum level of force" is so vague and does nothing to protect african american lives. How can "when possible" be clearly defined? The study found killings of individuals and the amount of police officers getting injured decreased. I am wondering what the breakdown of this study is in terms of race, because if you read that statement that could mean police shootings and killings decreased overall, because police kill every race, but not for african americans specifically.
The next set of research used was that from Philadelphia in which police shootings were studied. The restrictive deadly force policy set in place was reversed and the city saw an increase in police shootings then the number decreased when a new policy was enacted that stated that deadly force can only be used in "defense of life when no alternatives exist." Here again, in a lot of cases where officers argue that they feared for their life they would say that no other alternatives existed as a justification for killing innocent black people.
Lastly, the research discussed Tennessee v. Garner which led to the decrease of police shooting by 16% nationally. The facts of this case are that Officer Elton Hymon shot 15 year old Edward Garner to obstruct him from escaping over a fence. Officer Hymon assumed that Garner had robbed a nearby house, but admitted he had no evidence to show that Garner was armed and assumed that he was not. The bullet hit Garner in the head and he died at the hospital. The father of Garner sued saying that his son's constitutional rights were violated, however, the district court was on behalf of the officer as the Tennessee law authorized his actions. The court also expressed that Garner had "assumed the risk of being shot by recklessly attempting to escape." The United States Court of Appeals for the 6th circuit reversed this holding, stating that "killing a fleeing suspect is a "seizure" under the Fourth Amendment and such a seizure would only be reasonable if the suspect posed a threat to the safety of police officers or the community at large." The court found that a statute that authorizes using deadly force to prevent the escape of any fleeing suspected felon does violate the Fourth Amendment.
The court of appeals argued that "the Fourth Amendment prohibits the use of deadly force unless it is necessary to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon and the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of violence to the officer or the community."
The research concludes with stating "legal scholars and health experts claim these tactics are critical in restraining police power and reducing the harm they cause." How are these critical when they won't protect black innocent lives?
How are these proposed policies going to actually effective?
My entire issue with the research that was used to create these 8 policies is that it is subpar and the research isn't in support of what blacks are trying to achieve in America in terms of reversing and eliminating systematic racism.
Defund the Police
Now let's discuss the defund the police movement that is circulating on social media and other places. I searched to find the true meaning of defund the police and what it was aimed at achieving. What I found was that the goal is to "defund the police and invest in our communities to ensure black people survive and thrive."Upon reading this I developed many questions of how effective this would be. I find "defund the police" to be an extremely vague statement, because I am questioning what specifically about the police do we want defunded? Guns,other weapons, vehicles, armor, or what? I think the better approach is to defund the system and pull money out of certain aspects of the criminal justice system and reallocate them to african american communities. I am aware that my viewpoint is controversial, but I cannot understand defunding the police in it's vague statement when police or law enforcement perform a wide variety of tasks and they are all not bad. When people say defund the police do they mean strictly law enforcement officers who patrol or do they mean the entire department? As we must realize that the corruption is deeper than just the officers it is deeply engrained into the entire system. For instance, a police officer may have a record of mistreating african americans among other things and their chief or precent may cover for them. So again, what do we mean when we say defund the police?
We have to be clear and concise in our demands and with that being said we have to be aware of repercussions of defunding the police. That takes away from the positive things that some of the police do.Upon further research I came across a list of 3 items on the ACLU website to better explain what defunding the police is, they are the following:
Prohibit police from enforcing a range of non-serious offenses, including issuing fines, and making arrests for non-dangerous behaviors, eliminating many of the necessary interactions between the police and community members that have led to so much violence and so many deaths.
Reinvest into alternatives to policing that will keep local communities safe and help them thrive.
Implementing common-sense, iron-clad legal constraints, and other protections on the rare instances in which police officers do interact with community members.
Next I will give my perspective or understanding of what each of these points mean.
I think that these are viable ideas, however, I have to question how capable of doing this we will be? I agree that police should be limited in their enforcing of some non-serious offenses depending on what they are, I also agree that fines should be dealt with through court systems and through the mail. However, I am curious how this applies to traffic stops as we saw in the case of Philando Castile. I am questioning, the part that states prohibiting police from making arrests for non-dangerous behaviors, are we saying that people shouldn't be arrested for these types of offenses or are we saying that police officers shouldn't be the ones carrying out these arrests in our communities? Lastly, I do agree that limiting unnecessary interactions will help to decrease the amount of black lives lost.
I believe in community policing, that is allowing officers who are familiar with the communities to police them and build relationships with their citizens, however, I am questioning how this can be achieved without economic support. I am aware that community based policing and corrections cost less than traditional methods, however, they still cost money.
My biggest and number 1 issue with this is "IMPLEMENTING COMMON SENSE..." How can we base a policy or a demand off of common sense, when not everyone shares the same amount of common sense nor do they have the same viewpoints on how common sense applies to certain situations. Common sense isn't that common. Also, are we proposing that police officers cut their interactions with members of the community to a bare minimum? I see the vision, however, I think this needs to be better defined to explain that officers do more than just patrol.
It is no secret that our communities need money and reform, however, I do not agree that defunding the police to get the money to do it is the right way to achieve our goals.
My overall conclusion on both of these are that they have potential but need work and we need to be cognizant of what we are passing around via social media. Everyone needs to do their own research and develop their own opinions on these and how the effective they can potentially be.