In 2015, activists within the Black Lives Matter movement created policy solutions to help end police violence in the United States. These solutions address excessive use of force, racial profiling, police killings, and many other problems that directly impact people of color. However, something important to point out, these policy proposals to end police violence won't just help Black and Brown citizens, but everyone. Although Black and Brown folks are disproportionately impacted by police violence, it is an overall problem that plagues our country. To put the problem plainly, more than 1,000 people are killed by police every year which equates to about 100 people killed per month. About 60% of those victims do not have a weapon. Actually, the United States leads with the most killings by police officers compared to countries like Japan, Germany, the UK and Australia. By implementing these proposals, police killings and police violence will be drastically reduced.
Campaign Zero was created by activists, researchers, and protestors to develop data-driven platforms with solutions to end police violence. The planning team is comprised of active and influential leaders: DeRay Mckesson, Samuel Sinyangwe, and Brittany Packnett. Many of the solutions that the organizers put forth have already been implemented in other states and within other police departments, which is something Campaign Zero points out. These proposals to end this violence are well thought-out, deeply researched, and supported with real-world evidence. They should be accepted and implemented at all levels of government.
Here are 5 out of the 10 solutions that have been developed:
End Broken Windows Policing:
Broken Windows Theory was established to decrease crimes in urban environments. Police monitor areas to prevent small crimes like vandalism, drinking in public, and other non-violent offenses to create an orderly atmosphere. However, all of this led to an increase in police killings of citizens who were involved in minor offenses and harmless activities such as sleeping in parks, drug possession, or having a mental health crisis. These problems are not violent offenses that should be addressed by police. Rather, they are health problems that should be addressed by healthcare professionals.
To address this crisis, Campaign Zero suggests that the following activities should be decriminalized: public drinking, possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct, trespassing, loitering, spitting, jaywalking, and bicycling on the sidewalk. If these are both decriminalized and de-prioritized by police, then we would see fewer unlawful killings. Additionally, part of the Broken Windows Theory involves profiling and "stop and frisk." Both of these lead to police stopping people because they are suspicious of "their blackness and other aspects of their identity." Lastly, the mental health crisis and lack of programs should be addressed. Police officers should not have a heavy hand in dealing with individuals with mental health problems. Instead, programs should be implemented to properly help those that need it and officers should have at least 40 hours of crisis intervention training.
It is a common practice for police to investigate and decide punishment on their fellow officers when dealing with police misconduct. This is riddled with bias, and usually only 1 in 12 complaints of police misconduct result in the officer being punished for for the misconduct. To address this problem, both a Police Commission and Civilian Complaints Office should be created.
The Police Commission should consist of no members who are current, former, or have family as police officers and members should be selected from candidates offered by community organizers. Duties of this commission include: determine policy of police departments, discipline and dismiss police officers, hold public disciplinary hearings, select candidates for Police Chief, and receive training on policing and civil rights. These, however, are just a few of the many requirements and duties for the members of the Police Commission.
Second, the Civilian Complains Office is in charge of investigating and resolving all civilian complaints against police, which should be resolved in 120 days. They should be able to interview an officer who used deadly force within 48 hours after the incident and have access to crime scenes and witness files. Additionally, they must be separate from the police department and receive no less than 5% of the police department's budget for funding. This commission includes many more duties and obligations.
The last part of this solution of community oversight includes removing obstacles for reporting police misconduct. To help resolve this problem, all police must give the civilian their badge number, name, clear reason for being stopped, and a card with instructions to file a complaint against the officer, if one is needed. With both commissions and this obligation for officers, the community can come together to help eliminate bias and increase police accountability.
Limit Use of Force:
In 2014, police killed 253 unarmed people and 91 people who were stopped for traffic violations. In order to end excessive use of deadly force, the following solutions should be implemented: deadly force should only be used when there is an extreme threat to the officer's life and before all other non-deadly force has been exhausted, officers should give verbal warning before using deadly force and give the civilian a reasonable amount of time to comply with the warning, and require that the names of both the officer(s) and civilian(s) names be released within 72 hours of the incident. Additionally, local police departments use of force polices must be revised and strengthened to include first aid kits available for anyone in policy custody that is injured, must ban chokeholds and strangling, carry a less-lethal weapon, and ban using force for people talking back or running away. Other important aspects of this solution include ending traffic-related police killings. To do so, policies must be changed to prohibit officers from shooting at moving vehicles, moving in front of vehicles, and prevent officers from engaging in high speed chases of people who have not, and are not going to, commit a violent crime. Actually, these use of force policy solutions have contributed to fewer police killings and fewer killings of police officers. Check out Campaign Zero's data on that here.
Independently Investigate and Prosecute:
Local police departments are in charge of gathering proper evidence for local prosecutors to successfully prosecute criminals. This means when a case of police violence must be investigated, those same officers must gather evidence of themselves and are prosecuted by someone who is incentivized to protect the officer(s) involved. To eliminate this bias, Campaign Zero outlines four requirements. First, lower the standard of proof requirement for the Department of Justice regarding civil rights investigations of police officers. Second, pass legislation to use federal funds to encourage independent investigators. Third, have a permanent special prosecutor's office at the state level for cases of police violence and, lastly, require the use of an independent investigator on all cases of police use of deadly force or serious injury.
Another issue with policing is the lack of police officers accurately representing the area. Although White men make up one-third of the U.S. population, they are highly represented in police departments. This policy solution requires police departments to hire officers that accurately reflect the community they serve. This means creating a timeline that outlines a strategy for hiring more women and people of color. In addition, community feedback through survey research should be used to regularly by citizens to gauge their experiences and perceptions with officers in their area.
We often feel helpless in the realm of police misconduct, especially when unlawful killings by police go unpunished. Instead of hoping things will change, the organizers of Campaign Zero worked with existing legislation and created new data-driven solutions to assist in ending this crisis, some of which has been adopted and already exists in certain local police departments. These proposals set forth by Campaign Zero are invaluable and extremely important. If all of these are implemented all around the country, we will definitely see a decrease in police violence and killings. Not only will this benefit citizens, but police officers as well. I advise everyone to visit their website and read the last 5 solutions they have diligently researched regarding ending police violence.
Proud millennial, D.C. resident, and a firm believer in equity for all.
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