Many Black voices across our country continue to remind us that the issues we are facing are not new issues.
The brutal murder of George Floyd has rightly trained our eyes on realized bias and systemic racism in our criminal justice system and a long history of excessive use of force from law enforcement, with particular aggression towards Black Americans.
It is clear that nothing short of a complete transformation is necessary and essential to ensure safety for the people of our country. In order for the police to be successful in protecting our communities, they must have the support, confidence and trust of the people they seek to serve — which far too many places haven’t had in a long time. In order for there to be true public safety, we need to invest more on front-end services and less on back-end law enforcement and prisons.
As we repeatedly face these issues, we must push the debate beyond ending police violence. We must reconstruct the concept of use of force. We must instill peer intervention strategies in law enforcement agencies big and small. We can no longer ask police to handle the failures of our social and educational systems. We must reimagine modern policing writ large, including reconstructing the laws and policies in our criminal justice system that unfortunately were designed in large part to oppress rather than assist and support the communities they serve.
Congress has begun introducing federal measures this week, the depth of which we’ve never seen before at the federal level, and perhaps most importantly, also encourages changes at the state and local level. Organizations like Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights and Campaign Zero are outlining very specific actions local governments and police departments can take without federal intervention. As we know from our work with the New Orleans Police Department, these sorts of overhauls take time and are difficult, but they are indeed possible.
Without the will to change police culture from within, though, overhauls of federal policy alone cannot bridge the divide between police and community. Like so many issues involving systemic racism, real lasting change requires hard work and courage. So let’s dig deep and muster the courage to work together to reimagine what public safety looks like.
Stay tuned for more details about how we plan to lend our thinking to this movement.
Founder and President