|Per Cops - No Justice - No Peace|
|By Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.|
There are people who want significant change in policing. There are modifications that cops support that will make a real difference and create a symbiosis with community members, Defunding The Police.
But there are endless meaningless proposals to reform law enforcement. Per research, none have a chance in hades to creating real change.
There is nothing on the horizon as to noteworthy police modifications from federal or state governments. Advocates now invest their hopes in cities and a couple have made modest proposals. But behind the scenes, business and community people are pushing back.
For all the problems that we have in law enforcement, two-thirds of Americans do not want to see cops disappear or their impact lessened. For the vast majority of cities, they don’t want change. If anything, they want more cops. Yes, they want fairness and equal justice, but they don’t want fewer cops or disengaged police officers.
If you don’t believe that cops haven’t pulled back to the point of disengagement, you’re not paying attention. There are media reports about people leaving cities and a major reason is increasing violence. Endless videos of riots and protests have scared the hell out a lot of people. They are getting out and taking their tax dollars with them.
A ban on chokeholds or opening up police records as to discipline (won’t happen because of personnel laws) or defunding or improved training or body cameras or community based policing won’t create the change people are looking for. Neither will the endless additional proposals. Go to the US Department of Justice’s CrimeSolutions.Gov and plug in any topic you want and see for yourself if any of the current proposals will make things better.
But the critics completely miss the point. Violence is exploding in cities throughout the country, especially in those with recent histories of protest. The rapidly increasing violence drives the conversation. It has to. No one wants a city or community perceived as dangerous. Citizens will always demand safety.
Do you really believe that the thousands of social media posts with millions of views showing buildings burning, protestors blocking roads or getting into the faces of police officers or people looting don’t have an effect on people’s perceptions?
Maybe not now, maybe not for the foreseeable future, but eventually concerns for public safety and economic considerations will win the day. They always have. They always will.
Creating Meaningful Change
What will create a meaningful difference is an agreement as to what cities and communities want as to proactive policing.
Why is proactive policing so important? First, it’s why we have our current problems. Proactive policing means that officers will act proactively when something seems amiss or when responding to community or political pressure to deal with neighborhood problems. The officer will use sufficient means to investigate or arrest.
In many of the events where things went wrong, especially when violence was used, it involved a cop’s decision that a suspect was doing something potentially dangerous or a mandate to enforce community concerns.
If we eliminated proactive policing, it would end most of the use of force problems facing us today. But it would also result in crime and violence problems.
Proactive Policing Makes Crime Go Down
The conundrum is that proactive policing makes crime go down. There has to be some level of proactively. No one can tell us with precision as to how many stops make a difference. But it’s similar to removing cops from the street altogether. There have been decades of debate as to the “real” impact of police officers on crime but we have always acknowledged that no cops means disorder.
Violence increases when cops do nothing more than to respond to calls. No one knows the magic formula as to how many proactive stops are necessary to reduce crime but, according to US Department of Justice data, proactivity cuts crime, Police Strategies. If cops are now afraid to be appropriately aggressive, it negatively impacts everyone.
The reason for exploding violence is that cops are refusing to be proactive. When the community screams about aggressive enforcement and that results in pushback, cops quickly get the message.
What cops are saying, “You say that we over-police when all we were doing was responding to community and political pressure to make things safer. If you are going to surround us when we try to make arrests and threaten or assault or harm or shoot us for doing what you said was important, then we’re not doing it anymore. We will respond to your calls and we will patrol your community, but that’s it.”
By the way, we don’t have to defund the police, cops are already doing it themselves. They are leaving in second numbers. Recruitment is down sixty-three percent. Retention is a growing problem. Thousands are getting out. A DC police union survey says 71 percent of those polled are considering leaving.
Not All Cops
Minneapolis has dramatically increased violence since the protests and riots and some blame the police for not doing enough to address violent crime.
Really? Are you serious? Do you really expect police officers to put their lives on the line for a city that portrays all cops as being evil?
Minneapolis has experienced an unprecedented burst of violence after George Floyd’s death, reports the Washington Post. At least 113 people have been shot since May 25, eight fatally, with hundreds of reports of gunfire across the city, including several shootings in broad daylight.
Are the protests legitimate? Yes. The death of George Floyd was criminal and the officers involved need to be held accountable. Are there other deaths where police were culpable? Yes, and those officers and agencies also need to own their actions. Is change necessary? Yes, we within law enforcement are supposed to be there to serve, not make things worse.
But the point that everybody seems to miss is that it’s not an issue of all cops. But if you are going to condemn all officers, you will get what you asked for, a complete lack of proactively. If you are capable of stereotyping a million people as criminally or socially deficient, you are capable of any “ism.” If anyone made a statement that “all” Jews or Catholics or Asians or Blacks or Whites were deficient, their statements would be immediately and justifiably condemned. Then why is it OK to say the same about all cops?
Baltimore, Chicago, New York, Minneapolis and an array of cities have made it abundantly clear that their law enforcement is abusive, discriminatory, harsh, and overtly violent. Not some of them, ALL of them. The list of cities continues beyond those mentioned. And in all those cities you have exploding violence.
The criminal element understands what’s going on and they see that cops are no longer being proactive. As far as they are concerned, the city has provided a green light and a literal get out of jail free card.
As shocking as it seems to some, there are tons of people who will do you or your family immense harm unless constrained. They will literally destroy a city based on a reputation for dangerousness. It happened to almost all cities that experienced riots or lootings now and in the past. It takes decades for a city to overcome a reputation for violence.
Businesses won’t invest, jobs are lost, tourism is destroyed, education plummets and people leave as fast as they can.
Is There A Solution?
There will be symbolic victories for those wanting change. A small number of police agencies will lose money, in some cities cops will be retrained, and laws will be passed as to chokeholds and other procedures. They will collectively fail to substantially change anything.
But things can dramatically improve if communities and law enforcement agree as to what it wants from its police officers and if the community is willing to accept the consequences.
No cop ever said that they want to spend their shifts arresting people. There are no safe arrests. There are no safe stops. The only reason for aggressive police actions was the demands of community leaders, politicians, and the media.
Would cops like to attend community functions and barbeques and church events instead of making arrests? Hell yes. Critics love to state that cops see themselves as heroes and only they can protect communities through aggressive and proactive enforcement. They are warriors, not guardians.
Bull hockey. Cops were proactively aggressive because of the pressure placed on them by everyone else “and” because proactivity worked to reduce crime. But regardless of the success of crime control through stop and frisk, communities decided that it was simply too much and, in the long run, detrimental to the community, so cops pulled back.
Considering we are supposed to serve, we have to honor a community’s prerogatives.
But it goes way beyond stop and frisk. What about possession of drugs or open containers drug sales or traffic enforcement or responding to mental health or domestic violence cases? What about disturbing the peace or loitering or gambling or prostitution?
Cities and communities can effect substantial and meaningful changes in law enforcement only through guiding the police as to what it wants. Communities and cities need to decide strategy. There will no longer be politicians or community leaders or businesspeople or editorial boards demanding that cops do more.
When the rules of engagement are well defined, and everyone understands what it expects from others, only then can we have meaningful police reform.
Beyond that, everything else is simply smoke and mirrors.
How The New Era Of Crime Control Could Be Done
Cities would survey community residents weekly as to their preferences. The data would be incorporated into a database segmenting location, demographics, solutions, and preferences. Citizens would be asked about their perceptions of law enforcement, government and community organizations tasked with crime control, Communities Must Do More.
Daily crime and arrest data (by location) would be pushed to citizens and the media via social media, websites, and email.
Cities and communities would run open forms that’s would be live-streamed to residents. They would have the ability to instantly vote on proposals via websites or their phones or in person.
Communities and residents would debate crime policy and decide what they want as to enforcement and the agencies responsible. Local politicians and community leaders would be accountable for most crime control solutions. There would be no screaming at police; no demands for results unless they are addressing major crimes.
This will take considerable public and private funding.
The end of law enforcement’s sole responsibilities for all crime control will give residents the input they seek. But power comes with great responsibility.
No Justice No peace
The protestors are right, no justice no peace. But the only justice is everyone sitting at the same table effecting a compromise.
No justice, no peace? When communities and cities crumble under the weight of exploding violence, peace is not on the table.
And without community sanctioned proactive policing, there is chaos.
Without cops who are embraced and empowered, peace is an illusion.
No justice no peace? That’s exactly what cops are saying to themselves right now by forgoing proactively.
If you condemn all cops, do you really think they would be willing to risk their lives for you? If a community collectively ostracizes all police officers, why would they proactively put themselves in harm’s way? To get safety, communities and cities need to support officers and clearly state what they want.
The onus now belongs to the communities involved. It’s now their responsibility to do the heavy lifting. They need to decide what works for them. What laws do they want enforced? How much police productivity to they want?
For example, sending social workers to appropriate calls would probably cut police use of force in half. Lessening proactive policing as to traffic enforcement or drug possession or open containers or endless other activities would also cut the use of force significantly.
So there you have it, a proposal that will work to significantly change policing in America. Cities and communities need to be actively involved in their own policing; it’s cowardly to insist that cops enforce laws but complain when the results go south.
People will state that communities can’t take on that responsibility. Bull hockey. It’s now time for citizens to step up to the plate and to take responsibility for what happens in their own neighborhoods. It’s criminology 101.
The current proposals are purely symbolic gestures that change nothing. Want real change? Work with law enforcement as to what you want and how you want it done.
But you live with the consequences. No complaining if crime goes up or the disorderly’s rule the corners. It’s time for people to choose the life they want to live.
Reprinted with permission from https://www.crimeinamerica.net.
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Leonard A. Sipes, Jr has thirty-five years of experience supervising public affairs for national and state criminal justice agencies. He is the Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse and the Former Director of Information Management for the National Crime Prevention Council. He has a Post Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and is the author of the book "Success With the Media". He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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