For over a week now American citizens have been taking to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd and a host of other African Americans at the hands of law enforcement. The protests have seen all races band together to march and rally against police brutality. We have seen police officers and politicians marching and taking a knee to show their support. It appears that the consciousness of America finally has been awakened over the last decade and as racial tensions have risen more people are standing up to racial injustice.
“We are watching our sons mostly — our daughters, too — be shot down and killed, and we have not been able to protect them,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)..
The demand for justice is deafening.
Protestors want to see the people responsible for the murder of unarmed, non-threatening, innocent black people arrested and prosecuted. In order for that to happen on a large scale, racial injustices have to be addressed by policy.
But the million-dollar question is what type of policy can stop police brutality?
In June 2020, in response to the killing of George Floyd, a group called Campaign Zero launched 8 Can’t Wait, a database that tracks how eight policies to curtail police violence are employed in major cities. The eight policies are:
- Ban chokeholds and strangleholds.
- Require de-escalation.
- Require a warning before shooting.
- Require that all alternatives be exhausted before shooting.
- Require officers to intervene when excessive force is being used.
- Ban shooting at moving vehicles.
- Establish a Force Continuum.
- Require comprehensive reporting.
Campaign Zero was developed with contributions from activists, protesters and researchers across the nation after the anti-police protests in Ferguson, MO. Their goal was to find ideas that wouldn’t cost any money and could be implemented quickly. The data-informed platform presents integrated community demands and policy recommendations from research organizations and President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing to put an end to police brutality.
The people behind Campaign Zero and 8 Can’t Wait have made it their mission to end police violence. DeRay Mckesson, an activist, organizer and educator whose primary focus is on issues impacting children, youth and families, and Samuel Sinyangwe a data scientist who leads the development of research, digital tools and platforms to “end police violence and systemic racism in America” are listed as the organization’s planning team.
In 2015, The Washington Post began to log every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the United States. In that time there have been more than 5,000 such shootings recorded by the Post.
The report also confirmed that although half of the people shot and killed by police are white, black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. African Americans account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans. Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.
“This violence, in practice, is justified by legal and administrative policies that govern how and when police can use force against civilians,” reads a report furnished by Campaign Zero. “In theory, police departments establish rules regarding the use of force, which include the expectation and power to discipline officers who fail to uphold the department’s standards. Instead, many police departments fail to establish common sense restrictions on police use of force – including deadly force – that would actually benefit the communities they are supposed to protect and serve. According to our findings, fundamentally changing use of force polices can dramatically reduce the number of people killed by police in America.”
The study goes on to state that police departments that had implemented the policies were less likely to kill people than police departments that had not.
“Our analysis finds that each additional use of force policy was associated with a 15 percent reduction in killings for the average police department. Since the average police department had already implemented three of these policies, implementing all eight use of force restrictions would be associated with a 54 percent reduction in killings for the average police department,” read the Campaign Zero report. “Even after taking into account the number of arrests made, assaults on officers and community demographics, police departments with all eight of these use of force policies implemented would kill 72 percent fewer people than departments that have none of these policies in place.”
A 2016 study by Campaign Zero found that on average most police departments reviewed have only adopted three to four of the eight policy recommendations and that no law enforcement agency had implemented all eight.
But that could change as reports state that the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners is currently considering changes to the department’s use of force policy.
According to Michigan Radio, Police Commissioner Evette Griffie made the motion for the board to implement the following changes to the Detroit Police Department’s policy manual:
Require officers to use de-escalation procedures. The current department manual only suggests it.
Require officers who witness colleagues using excessive force to intervene.
Ensure that officers report when they threaten the use of a weapon. Currently, officers are only required to report if they actually use their weapon.
Griffie said such policies are considered “best practices across the nation,” and are supported by civil rights organizations.
These changes are also supported by Governor Gretchen Whitmer who publicly stated that, “Police officers should be required to intervene when they see a fellow officer using excessive force.”
Requiring fellow police officers to intervene when they witness excessive force would “save lives and help to keep people safe,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer also called for improved training and policies “to help create a police culture where all Michiganders are treated with dignity and respect under the law. Police should require enhanced training on implicit bias and methods to de-escalate conflicts, she said.
Gov. Whitmer has also acknowledged that the need for police reform is long over due saying that the death of George Floyd is “the result of hundreds of years of inequity and institutional racism against black Americans.”
As for the motion to change the Detroit Police department’s use of force policy it has not yet been passed as commission policy staffers need to “spend some time revising the directive and language on the use of force before going to vote,” said Griffie.
With the nation on edge after the murder of George Floyd and others at the hands of police nearly everyone agrees that change is definitely needed. e. Police brutality has been an issue that has largely gone unchecked and citizens are fed up and are demanding real change right now.