7 Points for Police Reform
7 Points for Police Reform
Why this petition matters
For over two hundred years we Americans have been told that we live in the land of the free. That our nation is a bastion of liberty and a land of opportunity where the only things that can hold a person back are constraints of their talent and the limits of their ambition. We are continually reminded that in our nation, all are created equal. Throughout our nation’s history, however, far too many have found these promises of liberty, opportunity, and equality to ring untrue and even farcical.
While the recent wave of police violence and the actions of the current administration have served to shine a brighter light on these problems, this is by no means a new or even recent situation. Since our nation’s birth injustice has run rampant. Although a few wealthy and influential Americans may hold their heads high and shout our nation’s praises, they do so while standing on the backs of the many poor and downtrodden.
The individuals who have found themselves on the wrong end of this injustice have often been told to trust that the system we have in place will inevitably provide for them. What we have seen, however is that these individuals, be they people of color, women, immigrants, members of the LGBT community, or simply adherents to the wrong religion far too often find themselves victims of oppression that is built directly into that very system to which they are told to place their unwavering faith.
When we seek equality, that system gives us oligarchy. When we seek justice, that system shows us only oppression. When we exercise our various rights, that system finds ways to attack them. When we shed our blood, that system shows us that it is not willing to even shed a single tear for those of us that it has chosen to leave behind. This system is not merely flawed but inherently broken. A broken system will inevitably lead to a broken nation; a nation that cannot be repaired, a nation that cannot be reformed.
Even in these most desperate of times, when our country seems so divided, there is still a chance. There is still an opportunity to make sure that the “American Dream” is available to everyone and not merely to a chosen few. We can rebuild our system in such a way that those flaws that so many Americans currently fall victim to no longer exist. We can create a system that will ensure that it leaves no one behind. A system that guarantees justice and equality for everyone. A system that respects the rights of each and every human being in the country.
Through a series of vast and overarching changes, we can create a society that unites instead of separates. We can make the changes necessary to heal our broken nation before it’s too late. For it is only through that change that we can guarantee that this great nation of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth.
It is with that in mind that we offer these seven points and ask that all of our elected officials pledge to make these suggested reforms a reality:
1. Police in America are overworked and expected to do far too much. The erosion of our social safety net over the last forty years has led to police being consistently called on to perform tasks that they are woefully unqualified to handle. Social workers, mental health professionals, and specialists are far more suitable to deal with issues such as domestic abuse, homelessness, and addiction than police.
Therefore, funds should be reallocated from law enforcement and into programs to benefit communities. By adding to the number of social workers and mental health professionals working in any given community, we can lift the burden now thrust upon law enforcement and guarantee that the people we trust to deal with any situation will be those most qualified to do so.
2. Law enforcement officers should be, first and foremost public servants. In many major cities, young officers are churned out with very little training and sent into neighborhoods they have never even seen as though they are an occupying force. This practice only serves to widen the gap between the average citizen and the police who patrol their community. Officers must learn to see themselves as working FOR their community rather than AGAINST it.
Therefore, whenever possible law enforcement officers should be required to live within the area they patrol. They should be driven to build trust among the people they serve and create lasting connections within their own neighborhoods. All officers must understand their duty to report any acts of wrongdoing committed by fellow officers and records on the officers who patrol an area should be publicly available upon request. All contracts and agreements between a municipality and any police unions should be a matter of public record and negotiations between the two should be done publicly so that the people being policed have an opportunity to voice their opinions.
3. We can no longer allow any law enforcement agency to investigate themselves. This practice has shown itself time and time again to be unabashedly biased and rarely if ever, are officers who break the law held accountable
Therefore, a new branch of the DOJ should immediately be established at both a state and federal level. This office will act as a neutral third party who will serve to investigate any allegations of wrongdoing by police forces at the corresponding levels of law enforcement.
4. We must get rid of the so-called “revolving door” that exists within law enforcement. Far too often, when an officer is terminated for offenses in one city or jurisdiction, they will quickly be back to work enforcing the law in another.
Therefore, a national registry should be established to keep track of officers found to have shown a pattern of corruption, profiling, or use of excessive force. Once an officer’s name is placed upon this registry, they will be permanently barred from working in law enforcement in any capacity.
ANY officer that uses excessive force leading to the death of a suspect should immediately be terminated, arrested, and charged. Upon release these officers should have their names places in the national registry.
5. End the “War on Drugs” immediately. This remnant of a bygone era has shown itself to be an abject failure for fifty straight years. It has continually been used to enforce prejudice and xenophobia. It has led to the overwhelming militarization of our police forces. More importantly, it has quintupled the number of incarcerated Americans, most of whom are now locked up for crimes that are entirely nonviolent. Our nation contains only five percent of the world’s population but houses twenty five percent of its inmates.
Therefore, drug possession should be decriminalized, and those funds currently used to police drug offences should be invested in treatment, rehabilitation, and community building programs. Inmates who have been incarcerated for nonviolent, drug-related crimes should immediately be released and their records expunged.
6. Privatization within our prisons and jails creates an incentive to maintain high rates of incarceration. This incentive inevitably makes its way back into our judicial system leading to longer and stricter sentencing.
Therefore, we should immediately abolish all private ownership or staffing of prisons in America. Prisons and jails should be required to meet high standards and should be viewed as vehicles for rehabilitation and reform. These institutions should be graded based on the recidivism rates of their inmates and their ability to successfully help them to rejoin society.
7. As we invest in community building, it is important for us to remember that police and law enforcement are still vastly important to our society. The people we expect to keep the peace in our communities should be far better trained and far better funded.
Therefore, any potential law enforcement officer should be expected to complete a degree program that covers de-escalation, appropriate use of force, and basic psychology. In addition, officers should be expected to know the laws within their jurisdiction and be required to attend continuing education in order to keep up with changes in the law. Officers who achieve this high standard should be far better compensated than what we see today.