With the release of the abhorrent Tyre Nichols video (which we are deliberately not linking to), showing 5 police officers beating a man in custody to death, we must ask ourselves, as a society that enables the police, some hard questions. Why are we having a hard time implementing the changes that we know will work?
The first stat to consider is asking why African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by the police than white Americans. This disparity is even greater for African American men, who are 2.9 times more likely to be killed by the police than white men. and the rate varies by location. In a published study the disparities were shown to be significantly worse in some areas.
The data is overwhelming. There is systemic racism in policing today. It’s important to note that systemic racism is not personal racism. The 5 police officers charged in the death of Tyre Nichols are black. Fixing systemic racism is something that needs to be done, and is certainly achievable. but the lower hanging fruit, and one that is much more attainable is stopping police from killing people.
A very easy change draws it’s roots from the defund the police movement. Police officers used to be referred to as “Peace Officers” instead of today, when they are known as “Law Enforcement Officers.” Those are two very different goals, and as a society we need to ask ourselves which is more important to us? Do we want a peaceful society or an obedient one? Because you can’t have both.
Laws require law enforcement, which injects force into our society. The more laws we have, the more force is required to maintain them. We are not only causing the deaths of young men, but also putting police officers in danger with every law that we require them to enforce.
If you are arrested by the police, your odds of dying have just increased enormously, which is why so many people fight when they are being arrested — they believe they are fighting for their life.
Here’s the simplist first step. The first officer on the scene when dealing with a suspect should be designated as the “police advocate.” That officer’s job now is to preserve the life of the suspect. Good police officers do this already. In 2006, Buffalo police officer Cariol Horne was fired when she stopped another officer from choking a man in handcuffs. She may have saved a life.
We should celebrate her, and people like her. The police already have a special department to investigate themselves. It’s time for the police to have officers dedicated to the safety of suspects. Change the training so that the first officer on the scene is now the advocate for the suspect, ensuring that they are treated lawfully and not harmed.
And then every encounter between the police and the public that lasts longer than 30 minutes needs to be evaluated for how well the advocate did their job.
And here’s the second simple step: end qualified immunity and require police officers to retain malpractice insurance. Allowing people to sue officers insurance companies will drive up insurance rates for bad cops and move them out of the system, It will also restores power to police chiefs, which currently are prevented from firing bad cops by the police unions.
Originally published at LET.LIVE