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  • Writer's pictureBarrington Edwards

{X} the POLICE

(P)x; {P/x},[P]*,[P-x]?

The uprising and global protests have started to bear fruit.

What’s the end goal? Corporations and public figures are showing that they are listening. Good. The protesters are not letting up. How will we know that they have had a lasting impact? What do folks want out of this? There are many different sources of origin besides BLM. There are lots of demands along a broad spectrum. Here are the ones I’ve heard so far that bear remarking on.

Ending policing

There is a vocal push from some people to eliminate police forces altogether. I have no idea what measures they would put in place for crime prevention, public safety or emergency response. The argument is that the system evolved from inequity and racism in many cases. Proponents argue that the current system needs to be removed.

Obvious counterpoints are stated above; crime prevention, public safety or emergency response. Human nature has not evolved to suggest our ability to self police.

Reducing police force sizes

Some suggest that the size of police forces nationwide and the general response to a wide range of calls is excessive. People point to the frequency of seeing police on guard details as opposed to community policing.

Defunding police forces

Reducing the size of police forces would effectively be a part of defunding them. In addition, the resources and equipment that modern forces have acquired have created an image more similar to the military than to a police force. We see an increase of tactical equipment,vehicles and technology in everyday operations by the police forces paired with overwhelming numbers in response.

In the modern world where we have domestic terrorists active at an increasingly higher volume and rate, homegrown militias, and several and varied narcotics traffickers at massive scales there is a need for tactical response to match the danger. The conflict is in the degree and frequency of use of said resources. When they are applied to situations that could ( and often do) end up handled with minimum force. The outpouring of resources appears indulgent. The impact on communities is traumatic and it sends the message of fear.

Reforming policing

Most of the energy seems focused on changing the system. The hot button seems to pushed when more and more men and women of color are killed by officers. The pressure to have officers wear body cameras on duty became a norm to ensure their encounters were procedural. In recent years exposure by video and circulation in social media exposed the degree and the frequency of police brutality, violence, and corruption. The calls for more transparency and stricter, more commensurate punishment effected change in many cities. The degree to which departments and districts can implement change often depends on the will, the dominant culture and the economy of the area. As with everything the ability to pay for the change you want has more power in public policy as it does in industries. They are in fact linked.

•Ending police brutality

Brutal people exist. In police forces where the profession exhorts “protect and serve” as the common motto there can be no room for brutality. From the toxic and brutal language and posture to the pro-actively violent and brutal choke holds, restraints and submission tactics used officers receive training in the use of force to do their work. Their safety, as is all of ours, their own primary concern. Restraining anyone is difficult to do safely. Procedures like knees to the backs of necks and chokeholds cutting off oxygen are just as brutal as six men beating someone with nightsticks.

Police have the readymade excuse of “ I feared for my life” as a literal get out of jail card. Their daily risk and work earns them the trust of their fellows and the system that depends on their work maintaining safety of property and resources.

•Ending racial profiling by police

It is so common that most American black men have been through it. The fact that it falls under judgement calls makes it hard to prove. The burden of proof is on the citizens to prove they are who they say they are. Any indignation can lead to accusations and charges of resisting arrest. Over policing black neighborhoods and lack of community police relationships makes profiling gateway to arrests. The ease of manufacturing charges or probable cause often leads to many people’s first offense and criminal records.

•Ensuring accountability for police

The officers of the law are an integral part of the legal system. They are officers of the justice systems as well. The relationship between the judiciary system and police as it is makes it paradoxical at best. They are policing themselves. Police doing their job well are holding themselves to a high standard. If this is unilaterally true the court’s would have no conflict of interest. As it stands the protection for the police ensures ghat they continue to serve the legal system to the “best of their ability “.

Each officer also depends on the other officers to support and protect them from danger and litigation. Thus the metaphorical “thin blue line”. Solidarity is important as is trust.

The public is at the mercy of this glitch in the system. Those who feel protected and safe defend the glitch and the inequities in favor of the police whom they see as their defenders. Those who clearly feel the impact of the disparity more deeply feel betrayed and adrift on their own. At worst people of color feel targeted and in constant conflict.

Once the police departments across the nation show they are listening as many have done how does the public move to the next steps; vigilance and active participation in local government? Will we see new involvement in city councils? New community development corporations? Will we see the young people follow up in acting as liaisons to their precincts? Will they commit to civic duty and organize to police each other? Develop resources to mitigate the causal factors of crime, poverty abuse, public problems?Wouldn’t that be something?

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