Our systems of policing are riddled with racial biases. Over-policing, unnecessary military-style equipment, and unreasonable thresholds for the use of force (notably for low level and misdemeanor offenses) have led to increased suffering in communities of color. The recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have again brought to the forefront the cost in human lives, especially of black and brown people, that are associated with the problems in our policing systems.
Organizations such as Campaign Zero have outlined explicit policy solutions that have been shown to reduce police-involved killings. These policies include:
Using minimum amount of force to apprehend a subject, with specific guidelines for the types of force and tools authorized for a given level of resistance;
Utilizing de-escalation tactics (verbalization; creating distance, time and space; tactical repositioning) whenever possible instead of using force;
Restricting officers from using deadly force unless all reasonable alternatives have been exhausted;
Banning chokeholds, strangleholds, hog-tying, and transporting people face down in a vehicle;
Carrying a less-lethal weapon;
Banning using force on a person for talking back or as punishment for running away;
Requiring officers to intervene and stop other officers who are using excessive force and report them to a supervisor;
Carrying first aid kits and immediately render medical assistance to anyone in police custody who is injured or who complains of an injury; (and)
Requiring police departments to notify the state when an officer is found to have willfully violated department policy or committed official misconduct.
Police use of force policies should protect human life and rights. Policies should include guidance on reporting, investigation, discipline, accountability and increase transparency to the public. Demand your state enact policies that protect people from police violence and the unnecessary use of force.
UPDATE: Campaign Zero recently launched 8 Can’t Wait, a database of city-level data on where these policies have yet to be enacted. Contact info for mayors and sheriffs can be found on their site, and the provided call script here can be used to demand policy change at the local level.