Don't Shoot: We Need a De-escalation Bill, Now.

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“I can’t breathe.”

Four Minniesota police officers arrested Mr. George Floyd in response to a call about him attempting to use forged documents at a grocery store. Minutes later Floyd was on the ground, pleading for his life as Ex-officer Derek Chauvin pinned his neck to the pavement with his knee. “I can’t breathe. Please, I can’t breathe.”

This isn’t an isolated incident. It’s far from out of the ordinary: America has seen a steady increase in violence against citizens from police misconduct. Police officers have killed over 1,000 people in 2019, and cities have poured millions into settling police brutality suits. Freddie Gray cost Baltimore $6.4 million. Eric Garner, $5.9 million. Rekia Boyd, $4.5 million. Laquan McDonald, $5 million. 

The root of this problem is the long and turbulent relationship between law enforcement and citizens. In order to combat institutionalized violence, we need to mandate that police officers are trained with de-escalation in mind. When it comes to discharging a gun, we need to shift from “reasonable” to “necessary;” Police officers should aim to disable or subdue, not kill. [EDIT: Some supporters of this petition have asked to include evaluations or screenings to reinforce these principles, which is a great idea- please leave a comment if you have suggestions on how to improve this bill.]

We must change the way police officers think of using deadly force, and we must do so with the support of our federal government. The price of empathy-driven training is a fraction of the cost of settlement and, most importantly, human life. We must prevent history from repeating itself again.

Nationwide riots and protests have captured national attention, but we must use that momentum to create lasting change through legislation. Once this petition gains 2,000 signatures, it will be presented to local members of Congress in hopes of introducing a bill calling for mandated police de-escalation training. Please take time to share this petition and contact your local government for support. Thank you!

Image via Stephan Mauturen