There’s a ‘great deal of anxiety and fear’ around policing
Vice President Joe Biden said that law enforcement leaders who met in Washington on Monday agreed that “there’s a great deal of anxiety and fear” around policing, especially in the aftermath of last week’s deadly shootings.
“Fear on the part of police officers that they become targets and fear on the part of some of the communities that they are, in fact, targets of the police,” Biden said on MSNBC. ”
And the truth of the matter is the vast majority of the police, the overwhelming majority of police apply the law accurately and fairly. And most of the people in the community are — just want — they want to be seen.”
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What Happens if Cops Leave?
We wrote yesterday that there need to be rules of engagements in every community in the Unites States as to what we want cops to do and how we want them to do it. If the Vice President is correct, and community members “just want to be seen,” then provide communities with a platform to accomplish this.
It’s our understanding from a variety of news sources that officers are leaving policing, or in the process of transferring to communities where their role is supported, or the recruitment process is getting considerably harder. According to the head of the FBI and many additional commentators, cops feel reluctant to do their jobs, which is having a considerable impact on rising rates of violent crime.
Are we willing to paint all police officers with a broad brush? It seems that we are. Citing recent statements from people in the entertainment industry condemning cops would take 1,000 words.
Gallup reported in 2015 that public perceptions of police officers had reached its lowest point in 22 years.
So given the current climate, why would anyone be willing to be a police officer?
If people refuse to serve as officers or are reluctant to meaningfully engage in our cities, the consequences are enormous.
A Written Contract with Communities
Let every city and community spell out what it wants done on their behalf. Let it be in writing.
In communities that feel they are being over-policed, many confrontations start out as police enforcing minor traffic or criminal violations. This needs to stop unless communities tell cops otherwise.
Stop interacting with people regarding anything less than a felony. Let the community tell police when enforcement should change. Let the community create a list as to what it wants.
Cops Would Love This
Cops would love this. When the complaint for noisy kids comes in, they don’t arrest, they get out of their patrol car and talk. No one runs, no one mouths off, why run the risk when the likelihood is that you’re not going to be arrested?
Police officers could spend the majority of their time (now that they have time) talking to residents and being good guys, and getting leads as to major crimes (the essence of community policing).
Fewer arrests mean fewer people with criminal records, fewer people going to jail or prison, less cost for taxpayers.
And most importantly for cops, they end the majority of confrontations, and they come home safe; their psychological scars are fewer.
They are happier. Maybe now they won’t quit in droves, which is what’s happening now. Maybe they will go back to proactive policing now they have defined rules of engagement.
It’s cowardly to tell cops to enforce the law without acknowledging the physical and psychological dangers (on both sides) in communities that feel they are being over-policed. You are not an occupying force if your only role is to deal with the big stuff, the crimes everyone wants addressed.
Police officers need some level of support if they are to do their jobs with precision and compassion. They need encouragement if we expect them to continue to do their jobs.
But why is police-community cooperation the role of government? Why aren’t communities taking responsibility for their own safety?
Let communities police themselves through written contracts with law enforcement. Let communities tell cops what they want in terms of law enforcement.