When did law enforcement become separate from the community and not part of it?
When did those with the incredible ability to take away our liberty and our lives become the enemy?
When did they become warriors out to defeat and destroy instead of guardians?
Rayshard Brooks was murdered-shot in the back- while fleeing police officers. Officers didn’t provide any aid after, but instead kicked Mr. Brooks while he was dying on the ground. Another officer stood on his shoulders.
Clearly we cannot continue to live our lives in fear of those meant to serve and protect.
That’s what’s the protests are all about. Everywhere people of all colors are saying “stop!”.
Those who commit crimes are not above the law.
Those with money and power are not above the law.
But it feels like we’ve allowed those to be truths for so long they are now ingrained in our political and law enforcement systems.
It’s as though we’ve all just accepted that’s the way it is and given up.
May 25, 2019 was a wake up call for everyone.
It wasn’t just a Black man who had his life stolen when a policeman kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck while 3 other officers watched or helped.
It became all our necks.
That’s why it has to change.
That’s why it can’t continue.
When a large portion of our population- those of color, different sexual beliefs and religions- fear for their very lives because of who they are, it has to stop.
Call it what you will, a seismic change is needed and the words you use are just semantics.
Racism is systemic in our country. Most of us have no clue it even exists.
Most of us don’t worry if we’re stopped by an officer of the law it could end in our death.
Most of us don’t teach our children to fear the police and worry when they’re alone without witnesses what could happen.
If I had fallen asleep at a drive thru at Wendy’s I would not be dead today.
These horrors must stop.
Even when the country’s focus is on the brutality of those in law enforcement we keep seeing the atrocities continue.
In Camden, New Jersey they actually put their words into action and showed change can happen. Their example is far from perfect but it’s a start. The same type of start the nation is demanding- an overhaul of the way we police our citizens, all of them. It’s always a work in progress, but one that’s time has finally come. It is long overdue.
Camden is one of our poorest towns, over run with drug lords, violent gangs and senseless violence that was 18 times the national average and everyone feared for their lives, including the police. In 2012 a monumental decision was made to change the law enforcement perspective towards community policing and de- escalation. Believing that if police can build relationships with the people they serve, anything is possible.
Understanding no one can arrest their way into safer environment. They needed to regain the neighborhood trust and wrest them away from those few offenders who operated with impunity by empowering the people.
It all changed when every officer was fired and had to reapply for their job. This time with a new set of rules.
They had to live where they served.
They had to go out into their communities and meet face to face those they worked for. It’s harder to have a you against us mentality, pull a gun and kill so quickly when you’re facing someone you know. They had interactions, not just predicated on enforcement or times of crisis.
Tickets for small infractions were no longer written, understanding a $250 dollar fine could devastate a family barely surviving on $13,000 a year. These interactions weren’t how they wanted to be remembered and those who wrote the most tickets were actually investigated.
60% of the original force were rehired. The rest brought new blood, new faith and fresh eyes.
175 drug markets in 9 square miles was quickly brought down to 20. When witnesses to crimes were too scared or resentful to help, only 16% of murders were solved, now over 60% are. They did this by respecting and honoring the people not through military tactics. Now all were interested in working with law enforcement to make everyone safer. Money was diverted to after school facilities where law enforcement and kids could interact in positive ways- on basketball courts, learning how to stay safe, and the police officers could become role models to turn to not run from.
Fixing something on its last legs rarely works. Each patch just creates another vulnerability, wasting valuable resources until the entire structure implodes. Disbanding the police force as it currently exists really means changing it into an organization that protects all citizens.
Ensuring all officers’ backgrounds, issues and misconducts are made available to any interested parties and getting rid of those who cross the line. Demanding guardians, not warriors, who live and work in the community they serve. Redirecting where money is spent that encourages de-escalation training, hiring those better suited to answer non violent calls, instead of armaments that rival our military.
When stopped by the police I do not fear for my life.
It’s a necessary irritant if I’ve been speeding. It’ll make me late for work, cost me money or a visit to court, escalate my insurance costs but I never, ever, worry it’ll cost me my life.
We can never tolerate, we can never allow that answer to be anything but a resounding, unmitigated and emphatic “no!”
People are dying. It has to stop