Policing: reforming a culture of brutality
Racism, assault, abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, gun violence
There are nearly endless options when it comes to resolving the issue of militarized policing and police brutality in America.
Fortunately, they range. From simple solutions you can support directly and immediately. To more complex ones that will take time to fully implement.
Let’s start with the simple ones and take it from there
There is an undeniable trend among the officers emulating violence against citizens. And that is that they have an abundance of toxic masculinity.
Role modelling positive masculinity and celebrating it in others is a great way to diminish the violence in society at large. In doing this, we are no longer desensitized to this violence.
Therefore, any toxic masculinity we see within policing then becomes amplified. This makes us not only better equipped to speak out, but also hold officers accountable for their actions.
Witness police engaging with BIPOC
It is a fact that BIPOC are negatively impacted by police presence at a disproportionate rate to WP. For this reason, it’s important for WP to simply observe police interactions with BIPOC. In doing so they can ensure neither party is put in harms way when it is avoidable.
Standing in solidarity with BIPOC will help make them feel and be protected and also create deeper accountability within policing.
This is an option that is often overlooked by the majority of people. However, voting for your local representative and local leaders is the best way to see direct changes in your community. Take the time to do research to learn about their career history.
As well as their platform so you can make an informed decision about candidates. And then vote! Voting for people who will get the job done is the best way to ensure the changes you want to see are implemented.
Support people who are experiencing or have survived domestic abuse
Domestic abuse is one of the most under reported violent crimes. This is likely due to a number of factors. One of the undeniable factors is the victim blaming that survivors experience. And the lack of support they have when they try to leave unsafe domestic situations.
How often have you heard someone ask a survivor, “why didn’t you leave?” Isn’t it interesting that the questions are never directed towards abusers? We never ask, “why didn’t you seek counselling?”
It never hurts to learn more about the shelters for women and men in your area. Being informed will make you a better ally and better able to help someone seek assistance when they need it.
More financial support for domestic violence shelters
Another way you can support domestic abuse survivors is by donating or collecting donations for local shelters. Speak with the teams that run the shelters and find out what supplies they need.
There’s always the option of organizing a donation drive if donating money isn’t an option for you. Additionally, it’s a great idea to work with your local government. Find out what sort of funding can be allocated to better support those types of organizations.
More social service support for victims of domestic abuse
Building on the need to support shelters, there has to be a deeper involvement of social services for victims of domestic abuse. This also has to work in tandem with local law enforcement.
Given the complexities around abuse and how they effect someone mentally, it makes sense to have a therapist, councillor or mental health professional working closely on domestic violence cases. In some situations, they might be a more appropriate route than police altogether.
Comprehensive gun laws
This seems like an obvious one as comprehensive gun control laws are needed to protect both citizens and police. Sadly, officers are 40% more likely to be fatally shot in states with higher rates of gun ownership.
This is likely because background checks don’t include as much scrutinization of applicants as they should. Background checks should include mental health evaluations. Along with a check on a candidate’s history of violence, namely stalking and restraining orders.
Current firearm owners with violent convictions should have their guns removed. Studies have proven on multiple occasions that a history of violence is the best predictor for committing a future violent act.
Why would we give that profile of person a lethal weapon? And why would we then expect police to “deal with them” when the entire situation was altogether avoidable?
Abolish the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act
This law allows any police officer, either presently employed in law enforcement, or retired to carry a concealed personal-use firearm almost anywhere in America regardless of the laws in that jurisdiction.
There are few exceptions to this law. But there are qualifiers and consequently not every officer is privileged to take advantage of this law. However, while the qualifications speak to officers being ineligible if they have current disciplinary action against them.
There is no mention of former disciplinary actions. Again, why is there no regard for a history of violence when we know this is the best indicator of the potential for someone to commit future acts of violence?
Perhaps there is a legitimate need for officers to have concealed weapons in states that have laws making it illegal. But why would that allowance extend to retired police officers?
New Jersey has stated that they don’t recognize the Act and it seems reasonable that other states follow suit. With agencies like the FBI, it seems odd that the Act would need to employ police officers in trans state policing.
Create legislation that delivers better accountability
We know that harsher punishments don’t work. Studies have proven that the American prison system is failing to rehabilitate people. And also failing to deter them from re-offending.
However, I would suggest using less leniency when it comes to an emerging or established history of violent behaviour. There is no reason for an officer to have 10 or more serious misconduct allegations against them.
There’s also no reason for an officer who has a history of misconduct to continue to be employed and paid by tax dollars. Why are citizens paying to be brutalized and deceived?
Dr Monckton Smith already established a profile of domestic abusers who are likely to kill their spouse, all law enforcement has to do is hold everyone equally accountable for their behaviour.
This includes their coworkers. Communities will never be safe until violent offenders are held accountable and rehabilitated.
Develop a culture of accountability
When it comes to accountability there is significant room for improvement. Yes the rates of violence within policing are high. And yes the rates of domestic violence within policing are likely just as high, or higher, than they were thirty years ago.
However, police themselves need to create a culture of accountability. This happens when they hold one another accountable. A great place to start would be when acts of excessive force occur.
George Floyd is an example. One person is murdering him while three others literally stand around, doing nothing, saying nothing to intervene. There was no reason why any of the other three officers could not have intervened.
Could not have taken control of situation. Instead they chose to allow it to escalate from a situation of restraining someone to a situation of murdering someone.
If a culture of accountability is to be expected, naturally measures need to be taken to ensure “whistleblowers” are properly protected. You don’t have to look hard to see stories of whistleblowers within policing.
There’ a common pattern among them. They typically experience everything from workplace bullying, to illegal hospitalization, to murder at the hands of their coworkers when they speak out.
Support internal affairs
If policing is to become less toxic and violent and the whole institution is to become anti-racist and fully accountable, investigations into all officers who have any misconduct cases against them need to happen.
Yes this should include closed cases because we know there is a culture of coverup within policing. On that note, there should also be a third party oversight committee. One that is removed from law agencies, and protects whistleblowers while also keeps internal affairs in check.
At this point it might seem like spending would outpace budgets. But it’s worth remembering that America spends 100 billion annually on policing. This excludes the police related tax spending on things like lawsuits and pensions.
Policing as it currently exists lacks oversight, accountability and general integrity. This didn’t happen overnight and reform won’t happen either.
We can’t be willing to spend money on a corrupt public system that does not serve the public and then unwilling to invest in a system that will uplift and support communities.
Another way to create police accountability would be with body cams. Hear me out on this one because i know body cams are a controversial topic for a lot of people. Yes it’s true that they have not served as a deterrent for police criminality in the past.
And yes it’s true that they are expensive. However, we have only ever used them in a culture that can turn off the recording device at will. The same culture that doesn’t want to be recorded, or held accountable for their actions.
In most jobs people are recorded. They have no access to turning the camera off. And they have no say in whether or not recording even happens. It’s simply a part of their position. Policing should be the same. It’s a job that requires surveillance, like many others.
In a late stage capitalist societies like ours, companies become increasingly desperate to find ways to maximize profits. One of these ways it through quotas.
Police should not be required to write a specific number of traffic tickets per week or month. They should be expected to do their job with integrity. To do their job to the best of their ability while leveraging their training to serve and protect their community.
They’re police officers, not commission based sales people.
Additional and comprehensive training
The lack of training required of police officers compared to other professions is startling. When you consider that they carry a deadly weapon and engage with people in violent situations they should have thorough and exhaustive training. This is not the case.
If the intention of defunding the police is to shift gears. Overall, defunding decreases the need for police. Defunding involves having individuals in crisis supported by relevant professionals.
Therefore, it stands to reason that their role of policing will become more specialized. This provides an opportunity to tailor training. And better equip police for the skills they need to do their job to the best of their ability.
Up to date studies
In doing research on police and topics like demographics by age and sex, rates of domestic violence, rates of suicide by demographic, demographics of officers involved in misconduct cases, turnover rates and other specific metrics of police performance, there is often no data to be found.
The study that found 40% of police are domestic abusers, is thirty years old and severely out of date. Unfortunately this was the case with most of the data that could be found on police metrics around performance.
There are zero studies to be found on profiling police who abuse their power. Or who have a history of violence.
It is not possible to change a toxic system without fully understanding all the ways in which is it polluted. Studies must be conducted to set benchmarks and establish a baseline. Otherwise how do you gauge either progress or patterns?
The Next Step
The consistent message behind defunding the police is reform. There are many ways in which reform can and should be sought out.
Most of them involve a lot of work on the part of the police involved. But it’s also imperative that the community supports the restructuring. This gives everyone a voice and helps to further promote equity for everyone.
Question of the Week
Should the internet be selectively censored?
Studies have proven that exposure to certain forms of online content leads to an increased likelihood to dehumanize a specific group of people or even commit violent acts against them. Two significant examples to point to are violent porn and hate crimes. What are your thoughts on online censorship for some types of content? Should censorship exist? If so, who controls it, and to what extent? Can we trust them to remain ethical with this control? If not, how do we justify the harm that comes to people as a result of a lack of censorship? Who would be most negatively impacted and why?
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