We don’t need to tell you that the news has been awful. Everywhere you look are stories and videos of death and injustice. And we get that you may sometimes feel like you just want to just shut it all out. But we’re asking you today to allow yourself to get enraged by the news and to channel that rage toward making our broken and racist systems finally work for all.
According to the ACLU, a typical police cadet spends just eight hours on de-escalation training…just eight hours. That is not enough to counter inherent racial bias that leads to profiling and fear, and is sadly contradictory to the increasing militarization of our police departments. This conversation isn’t about “bad apples,” this is about a terrifying lack of emphasis on “protect and serve” and the deeply rooted racism at the core of those charged with keeping our communities safe.
Right now in Congress, there is a bill called the Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act of 2016. If passed, the Preventing Tragedies bill would require police to be trained on de-escalation techniques that focus on preserving life. The legislation builds upon Police Executive Research Forum guiding principles on use of force and its belief that “the preservation of life has always been at the heart of American policing.”
To show your support of this bill, take a second to sign the ACLU petition “End the Culture of Warrior Policing."
The ACLU also recently sent a letter to Congress urging them to pass the Preventing Tragedies bill as well as the following bills when they return from recess:
- The Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (H.R. 2875, S. 2168), sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), provides law enforcement with resources for accreditation, best practices, training, and other resources to increase trust between police and community. The bill also mandates data collection on use of force and other police-community encounters, so the public can begin to knowwhat policing looks like in this country.
- The End Racial Profiling Act (H.R. 1933, S. 1056), also introduced by Rep. Conyers and Sen. Cardin, prohibits federal, state, and local law enforcement from engaging in racial profiling and other biased policing. The bill would help law enforcement meet this mandate through training, funding, and data collection. As the Department of Justice formally acknowledged at the end of June, “most people experience some degree of unconscious bias.” Implicit and explicit biases have no place in policing.
- The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act (H.R. 1232, S. 1441), offered by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), would prohibit the transfer of some of the most dangerous military weapons from the federal government to state and local law enforcement. Tanks, grenades, bayonets, and other weapons of war have no business in our communities.
- The Police CAMERA Act (H.R. 1680, S. 877) is sponsored by Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and provides federal resources to state and local law enforcement so they can develop safe and effective body-worn camera programs that also protect civilians’ privacy rights. Communities and law enforcement agree that cameras can be a part of the solution, but they must be implemented the right way.
- The DUE PROCESS Act (H.R. 5283, S. 3045) is a response to the controversial practice of civil asset forfeiture from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). The bill levels the playing field for individuals who want to challenge law enforcement’s seizure of their property by providing access to counsel, an increased burden of proof for the government, and other procedural protections.
So, if making sure our police departments truly protect and serve all is important to you, be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about Ending the Culture of Warrior Policing via social media so that others in your network can get involved too.
Please know that signing a petition and calling your legislators is NOT ENOUGH. These are just two things in a long list of things that you can do to help fight for police reform and support our persecuted brothers and sisters of color. So get mad, get in the streets, fight with your racist relatives and friends, vote for candidates who support police reform, and challenge America’s systemic racism every damn day. Because your silence says more than you’ll ever know.
Sign the ACLU petition “End the Culture of Warrior Policing."
You Can Be Pro Cop and Pro Police Reform (Brennan Center for Justice)
Showing Up for Racial Justice - Actions in Your Area (Showing Up for Racial Justice)
10-Point Justice Plan: National Urban League Police Reform and Accountability Recommendations (National Urban League)
Guiding Principles on Use of Force (Police Executive Research Forum)
Written by BOTL Communications Director Amanda Hoffman.
Hear the segment in the context of the show:
Best of the Left Edition #1030: "From Warriors to Guardians" (Police Reform)