Most, if not all, of these are generally good ideas although it’s largely focused on the administration of localized policing. Fed pigs and state pigs are just as bad and local pigs, and the policing process is merely the result of actions taken by legislators and enforced by prosecutors and judges. “The blue” are merely the tip of the iceberg as far as being components of the soft-totalitarian police state.
Transformation of police departments, their role and relationship to our communities requires a change in culture, accountability, training, policies and practices. It also requires strong leadership and transparency. Without organizing our communities and building power nothing will change.
Below are five issues that should be part of any effort to reform policing in local communities. This is not an exhaustive list but it’s a start. (Hyperlinks to resources are provided.)
1.Accountability and Transparency
The lack of trust for law enforcement that exists in so many communities is due in part to lack of accountability and transparency. Too many failures to indict officers and too many acquittals have left communities feeling that there is no justice. When someone is killed and no one is held responsible it not leaves people of color feeling vulnerable. To build trust, there must be consequences and the public must have information.
a. Accountability: Police departments should not investigate themselves. Nor should justice depend on prosecutors who rely on local law enforcement for evidence in cases they bring. Instead, accountability systems should be directed by the communities that police departments are supposed to protect and serve.
b. Transparency: Improved data collection and reporting practices are necessary to expose interactions with law enforcement and as a tool of accountability. There is no federal database tracking the number of people killed by law enforcement, use of force, or stop-and-frisks. Many local departments do not keep this important data either. Departments should collect and release this data to the public annually. The Center for Policing Equity is developing a database that 50 police departments have already agreed to use. President Obama’s Taskforce on 21st Century Policing recommended that local police departments make all policies and data publicly available.