The End of My Dream?

No matter what happens in November, no matter who becomes our nation’s leader, the reform and improvement of policing in America have received a series of crippling blows during the past four years from which it will most likely never recover.

This has not been only because of the acts and inactions of the present administration, but also because of the unwillingness or reluctance of police leaders to push back and continue the path of improving their agencies.

Consider these crippling blows to police reform efforts:

–Backing away of the Department of Justice with regard to pursuing consent decrees from city engaging in a pattern of civil rights abuses. (The most effective method to date to improve policing has been through federal court supervised consent decrees.

–Police agencies failing to implement the work of the Police Executive Research Forum on police use of force and President Obama’s “Task Force on 21st Century Policing.”

–Despite the public deaths of scores of black men since 2014 and the work of journalists to count and publish the actual number of citizens being killed by police, the number of citizens killed by police has not significantly been reduced (approximately 1,000 annual deaths). A primary cause is because most police leaders through policy (or by state law with the exception of California) have failed to raise the present low standard of when police can use legally use deadly force. [I suggest we use the deadly force standard of the European Union; that of “absolute necessity.”]

–The lack of specific plans by police in our nation’s major cities to build trust and support from communities of color — elements necessary for police effectiveness and officer safety.

–The continuing growth in both equipment, dress, and attitude of police regarding militarization as the struggle in the ranks continues between “guardian” and “warrior” orientations.

–The inability of a “Community-Oriented” style of policing to become the main method of how America’s towns and cities are policed.

–A president who tells police it’s okay to allow the heads of handcuffed suspects to hit the car roof when they are placed in the backseat of their squad car; that is urging police officers, to violate the law, their department’s policy, and their own oath of office.

–State rules and laws which permit “bad cops,” fired from their agency for misconduct, to be re-employed by other police departments.

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Even if Joe Biden captures the presidency it will take a decade of more to reverse what has happened these past four years.

If Donald Trump wins four more years, police in America will become less community-focused or accountable to those whom they have sworn to serve.