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Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Who will reform U.S. policing?

by Tom Sullivan

Responding to the video of police in Tulsa shooting and killing unarmed, black motorist, Terrence Crutcher, a former reporter I know wrote yesterday on Facebook:

I will never, ever forget the words of an African-American man I was interviewing a few months ago as he talked about being stopped for a traffic infraction with his wife in the car.

The officer approached the car he said, and he could see in his mirror that he had unlatched his holster and had his hand on his gun. My subject knew this probably was just procedure, but it affected him -- terrified him.

He started weeping. "Please don't kill me, sir, please don't kill me," he repeated, sobbing uncontrollably. I knew then and I still say he was not over-reacting. He had every right to be terrified, and this is why I thank Colin Kaepernick for his courage.
That was yesterday morning. Last night, another fatal police shooting of a black man. This one in Charlotte:
The shooting took place Tuesday afternoon after officers arrived at an apartment complex in the city of Charlotte at about 4 p.m., searching for a suspect who had an outstanding warrant, a police statement said.

Police said the man fatally shot, identified as Keith Lamont Scott, was not the suspect officers were searching for, but had exited from a vehicle with a firearm and the officers believed he posed an imminent deadly threat.

Scott's family quickly challenged the police account of the fatal shooting, saying he was not armed and that he was holding a book and waiting for his son to be dropped off from school, WSOC-TV reports.

Clashes between protesters and police followed. Protesters shut down a highway. Police in riot gear used tear gas. Police and protesters were injured, etc., etc.

One candidate for president strikes a pose: get tough. Another has a plan, as Bill Scher explained at Campaign for America's Future:
Yet we cannot easily compare the policy visions of the two major party candidates. One reason is that the phrase “flip-flop” doesn’t begin to describe Republican candidate Trump’s willingness to reverse himself when convenient, contradict himself within minutes and serve up word salad to avoid taking clear stances.

Another reason is that only one candidate is bothering to offer a comprehensive set of policy proposals.

As the Associated Press reported, “Trump’s campaign has posted just seven policy proposals on his website, totaling just over 9,000 words. There are 38 on [Democratic candidate Hillary] Clinton’s “issues” page, ranging from efforts to cure Alzheimer’s disease to Wall Street and criminal justice reform, and her campaign boasts that it has now released 65 policy fact sheets, totaling 112,735 words.”

The policy fight is a mismatch. You can’t beat something with nothing. And on many fronts, Trump is literally offering nothing.
Here's what something looks like:
Effective policing and constitutional policing go hand in hand. We can—and must—do both by:
  • Bringing law enforcement and communities together to develop national guidelines on the use of force by police officers, making it clear when deadly force is warranted and when it isn’t and emphasizing proven methods for de-escalating situations.
  • Acknowledging that implicit bias still exists across society—even in the best police departments—and tackle it together. Hillary will commit $1 billion in her first budget to find and fund the best training programs, support new research, and make this a national policing priority.
  • Making new investments to support state-of-the-art law enforcement training programs at every level on issues like use of force, de-escalation, community policing and problem solving, alternatives to incarceration, crisis intervention, and officer safety and wellness.
  • Supporting legislation to end racial profiling by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.
  • Strengthening the U.S. Department of Justice’s pattern or practice unit—the unit that monitors civil rights violations—by increasing the department’s resources, working to secure subpoena power, and improving data collection for pattern or practice investigations.
  • Doubling funding for the U.S. Department of Justice “Collaborative Reform” program. Across the country, there are police departments deploying creative and effective strategies that we can learn from and build on. Hillary will provide assistance and training to agencies that apply these best practices
  • Providing federal matching funds to make body cameras available to every police department in America.
  • Promoting oversight and accountability in use of controlled equipment, including by limiting the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement from the federal government, eliminating the one-year use requirement, and requiring transparency from agencies that purchase equipment using federal funds.
  • Collecting and reporting national data to inform policing strategies and provide greater transparency and accountability when it comes to crime, officer-involved shootings, and deaths in custody.

Or we could just "get tough"and see how that works out.