Why do we need reform of police departments? There have been numerous instances of racism, excessive force, abuse of power, harassment and corruption. What can be done about it? http://www.policereformorganizingproject.org/prop-reports/
Is reform possible or necessary? http://justice.gawker.com/police-reform-is-impossible-in-america-1683262551
Here are some ideas for things that can improve the situation.
- Body cameras, so that police actions can be viewed after the fact. Police tend to act better if they know they are being recorded.
- Better training to reduce racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, and harassment of the homeless etc.
- Better monitoring and reporting.
- Reduce militarization. Police response units look like invading forces.
- Return police to walking the blocks so members of the community get to know and trust their police. If minority neighborhoods, have members of the police from those minorities walking those beats.
- Minimize lethal force and find non lethal ways to subdue suspects.
- Provide Psychological training to teach how to handle people with mental problems and learn non violent conflict resolution.
- Use Restoritive Justice methods to provide alternatives to the criminal Justice System.
- Independent non partisan agency to evaluate and investigate reports of police brutality and abuse of power.
Here are some articles discussing different reform efforts. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/police-reform/
Britain had pretty good policing for quite a while without weapons. Perhaps training police using the guidelines they used would eliminate abuse:
Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Principles:
- The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.
3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionally to the necessity of the use of physical force.
5. Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.
7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police: the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.
In some cases when police departments are unable or refuse to reform themselves, the courts are necessary to bring about reform, with consent decrees. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18455-american-police-reform-and-consent-decrees