5 Simple Ways to Fix US Police Departments

Justin King | The Anti-Media

The nation is quite literally rioting over the brutality and corruption of law enforcement agencies nationwide. It is time for some common sense solutions.

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Oftentimes, law enforcement agencies cite the need for better training to cut down on use of force incidents. This is nothing more than excusing the brutality. If an officer does not have the common sense to avoid beating a mentally ill man to death, strangling someone to death, shooting a hostage, or killing an unarmed man, no amount of training will change that. Some will say that requiring judicial proceedings will swamp the courts. All this sentiment does is confirm the need for drastic change. If there are so many lethal force situations that reviewing them will cause a backlog in the courts, something is terribly wrong.

These solutions are practical, effective, and low cost.

1. National Police Offender Registry: Sex offender registries are common because those who betray the public’s trust must be readily identified to prevent a second violation. Law enforcement officials that violate the public’s trust should not be treated differently. If an officer is found to have used excessive force, violated a citizen’s civil rights, or abused the power of their office, they should be added to the registry and be barred from holding a law enforcement related position for life.

2. Body cameras for all officers: A city in California instituted a policy requiring officers to wear body cameras at all times while on duty. The results were staggering: use of force dropped by 60% and misconduct complaints fell by 88%. It should be the officer’s responsibility to make certain the equipment is functioning prior to every shift. If an interaction subject to a complaint arises that cannot be documented by the camera, the officer should be immediately terminated.

3. Departments must terminate every officer named in settled lawsuits: This seems like comment sense, but the fact is that officers that cost millions in lawsuits are routinely allowed to keep their jobs. If a jurisdiction chooses to settle a lawsuit against an officer for excessive force, civil rights violations, or other abuses of power, the department must terminate the officer and the officer will be placed on the National Police Offender Registry.

4. All lethal force cases go to trial: It has become evident that the police are incapable of providing their own oversight; therefore every lethal force instance must be judged by a jury. If the officer’s body camera was functioning, the proceeding should simply consist of playing the tape. If an officer is found to have excessively used force, the officer will be remanded to the department of corrections.

5. Provide statutory immunity for citizens who kill law enforcement officers under specific circumstances: In specific instances, such as an officer entering a home without a warrant or articulated probable cause that a crime is imminent and that waiting for a warrant would endanger public safety, a statutory immunity should be granted to citizens who have the right to self-defense to include lethal force. Officers who violate civil rights are not operating in good faith and a citizen has no duty to comply or obey. The state of Indiana has already passed such legislation.

Related: Do Autonomous Community Defense Groups Offer a Safer Alternative to Traditional Policing?

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