Vox news had a good summary of proposals for police reform by Campaign Zero, a brother movement to Black Lives Matter. I think it worth reproducing as a separate post.
- End broken windows policing. This refers to a style of policing that goes after minor crimes and activities, based on the notion that letting minor crimes go unaddressed can foster and lead to even worse crimes in a community. In practice, this tactic has disproportionately impacted minority Americans — in New York City, the vast majority of stops in 2012 were of black or Hispanic people. Campaign Zero proposes ending this type of policing by decriminalizing or deprioritizing public alcohol consumption, marijuana possession, disorderly conduct, trespassing, loitering, disturbing the peace, and spitting, as well as ending racial profiling and establishing mental health response teams that are better equipped to deal with mental health crises (which can result in, for example, disorderly conduct) than police.
- Community oversight. When a police officer engages in misconduct, the most likely organization to investigate the situation is the police department the officer comes from — creating an obvious conflict of interest. Campaign Zero proposes adding more community oversight over police by making it easier for citizens to file complaints and establishing civilian-run commissions that will help set policy at police departments and make recommendations for discipline following a civilian complaint.
- Limit use of force. Police officers are currently allowed to use deadly force when they merely perceive — albeit reasonably, according to courts — a deadly threat, even if a threat isn’t actually present. And police departments aren’t required to report uses of force to the federal government. Campaign Zero proposes authorizing deadly force only when there is an imminent threat to the officer’s life or the life of another person, and the use of force is strictly unavoidable to protect life. It also proposes changing police policies, including reporting and use of force standards.
- Independently investigate and prosecute. Following a police shooting, investigations are typically headed by the police department and the local prosecutor’s office, which has close ties to the police department — both of which create conflicts of interest. Campaign Zero wants governments to establish independent prosecutors at the state level for cases in which police seriously injure or kill someone, which would now require an investigation. The campaign also suggests reducing the standard of proof for federal civil rights investigations of police officers.
- Community representation. In some communities, the racial demographics of the police force are wildly different from the community they represent. Ferguson, for example, is about two-thirds black, but only three of 53 commissioned police officers were black at the time of the Brown shooting. Campaign Zero says police departments should develop and publicly release plans to achieve representative proportion of women and people of color through outreach, recruitment, and changes to policies.
- Body cameras and filming the police. Most police departments still don’t fully equip officers with body cameras, and many don’t have dashboard cameras for their cars. But recording devices have played a crucial role in holding police accountable — in Cincinnati, for instance, a body camera filmed a campus police officer’s shooting of Samuel DuBose, leading the local prosecutor to conclude that the shooting was “asinine,” “senseless,” and “unwarranted” before he pressed charges. Campaign Zero suggests equipping all police officers with body cameras, as well as banning cops from taking people’s cellphones or other recording devices without the person’s consent or a warrant.
- Training. Many police departments only require training on an annual or one-time basis, and the training tends to focus on use of force, not on deescalation or racial bias. Campaign Zero suggests requiring officers to go undergo training on a quarterly basis, with greater focus on addressing subconscious racial biases and other prejudices against, for example, LGBTQ people.
- End for-profit policing. In some jurisdictions, police are used by local governments as a revenue generator. One of the most damning findings from the Justice Department report on Ferguson is that the police department and courts issued fines and fees to help fill local budget gaps. Campaign Zero tries to eliminate these perverse incentives by ending police department quotas for tickets and arrests, limiting fines and fees on low-income people, and stopping police from taking money or property from innocent people, as they currently do through “civil forfeiture” laws.
- Demilitarization. The Ferguson protests captured nationwide attention after police deployed militarized equipment — sniper rifles, riot gear, camouflage, armored trucks, and chemical agents such as tear gas — against largely peaceful demonstrators. But police have this type of gear in large part because the federal government subsidizes it or gives it away to local and state police. Campaign Zero proposes ending the 1033 program that provides militarized equipment to police, as well as limiting when local and state police can purchase and use this type of equipment.
- Fair police contracts. Police unions have negotiated strong contracts for their officers over the past few decades, sometimes imposing big hurdles to investigations — such as the 48-hour rule, which prevents investigators from talking to an officer involved in a shooting until 48 hours pass. Campaign Zero aims to eliminate these types of barriers while requiring police departments keep officers’ disciplinary history accessible to the public and ensuring officers don’t get paid while they’re being investigated for seriously injuring or killing a civilian.
Click on Campaign Zero for the original, more detailed version of these proposals.