By Joel Mathis The Week
Something quiet and unexpected happened over the weekend in Lawrence, Kansas, the town where I live: The city’s new police chief announced a ban on no-knock warrants and chokeholds by the department’s officers. The controversial tactics weren’t used all that often — Lawrence isn’t typically a hotbed of violent crime — so it’s possible not that much will actually change, but the symbolism seemed a good way for the new guy to get off on the right foot in a Dem-voting college town. “This is just one way to help foster trust with the community,” Chief Rich Lockhart told the local paper.
It’s a tiny victory for police reformers. But it’s a victory nonetheless.
Those victories seem to be in short supply these days. The surge of violent crime in America has blunted the surge of public support that reformers experienced in the #BlackLivesMatter summer of 2020, after the violent, wrongful deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of law enforcement. There was a moment when Republicans — led by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) — expressed interest in some sort of reform. It seemed possible the doctrine of “qualified immunity” that largely protects officers from lawsuits over civil rights violations might be weakened, and public safety reimagined in ways to de-emphasize armed policing in favor of less potentially violent methods