The police are people who serve with the intent to keep law and order, as well as protect citizens. Unfortunately, many officers have not always represented these traits. This has been seen most recently during the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, as well as how they have dealt with protestors all across the country. According to Statista, from January of 2015 up until July of 2020 “Black Americans rate of death by police was 13 per million higher than that of White Americans”. Historically speaking, police violence against black people has always been a problem. However, the Black Lives Matter movement has helped not only spread awareness but they are demanding change.
A common phrase used by protestors is to ‘defund the police’. While a common misconception is that defunding the policing force is abolishing the police, it actually means allocating their funding to other resources that could actually benefit the police. Funding would be used for services, such as a mental health crisis line or addiction help. Nine out of ten 911 calls are for non-violent encounters and is why Camden, New Jersey decided to disband their policing system. All officers were fired and had to undergo psychological assessments and new training before re-applying. Much of their current work is focused on the deescalation of crises.
This can actually be beneficial for the police, as they can focus on criminal encounters and allow trained professionals to aid in mental health and addiction help.
In Rochester, New York, police footage was released from an incident dating back to March 23. Daniel Prude, a 41 year old black man died following an encounter with police. He had a little amount of Phencyclidine (PCP) in his system and told the officers that he had Covid. Prude begins spitting, as a spit bag is placed on his head. He ends up suffocating and dies. Had a trained professional been there, a de-escalation approach could have been used that may have saved his life.
Adding more trained professionals into areas with higher poverty rates will also lower the Black Americans rate of death, at the hands of police. The police system needs to be changed to ensure members of society feel safe and this is a good way to start.
This is actually a very interesting topic and one that I would love to hear varying opinions on. One thing that I feel we need to realize is that nowadays, police already work on a constrained budget, and they are also asked to perform several different rolled while in the line of duty, from acting as a medic for those injured and have not yet received attention from paramedics to mediators in arguments that if met with violence become even more dangerous for the parties involved. If we want to see a change in our community, we need to focus on creating an all-encompassing training regime for officers that assists in the creation of officers who are more prepared to handle the varying jobs that are required to keep the peace.