Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Senator Tim Scott Discusses Institutions of Authority-Dems Not So Sure

Senator Tim Scott discusses police reform but Democrats are not so sure that reforms go far enough. What we can see is that there may be concerns that individual wrongdoing isn't being addressed in the legislation. I think there are some fixes that make this palatable to both sides.

You can listen to the Bill and see it HERE.

A couple of key points:

1. Use of Deadly Force.
2. Funding issues.
3. No knock
4. Transparency
5. Training
6. Falsifying reports
7. Body cameras
8. Record retention
9. Lynching
10. Social status.
11. Deescalation
12. Training
13. Mental health
14. National commission
15. Hiring and education
16. Best practices
17. Law enforcement consent
18. Funding

I really like what they have here and I think its a great start. Democrats don't like it and feel that perhaps by not negotiating there will be increasing pressure on Republicans to adjust. Now...what I would consider to push the this legislation forward would be thinking about individual accountability.....

1. Holding individual officers accountable for willful (non mistake) types discriminatory and/or other types of illegal acts. There is a need to protect officers from normal mistakes, frivolous suits, etc...  However, they are also part of the law and should not be above it when it comes to big issues. Providing immunity from almost all types of behaviors is way too much power and protection that leaves open opportunities for abuse. In many ways, it might even invite it!

2. There are complaints and internal disciplinary issues that shouldn't be swept under the carpet. People complain and perhaps of those complaints most may not have true merit but when there are serious complaints and/or complaints of patterned behavior that have substance they should not be ignored. The records should be maintained for investigative purposes.

3. Investigations and reviews of complaints. When a threshold has been reached (or an act appears willfully inappropriate) it is important to review the information/record for misconduct. Like any other type of employment position in the country, leadership that does not act on such inappropriate actions should have some responsibility. Fighting negative culture means ensuring that bad cops are removed and the incentives for doing good are present. Thus, considering changing of incentives and punishment metrics may be needed.

4. I also didn't mention some type of prison reform. We are not talking about not putting criminals away but we should be discussing alternatives for mental health and other issues that are at their root not intended to harm others (good soul vs. bad soul argument). There will always be people that must be separated from society but there is no good reason to pay tens of thousands of dollars for little crimes that can be reformed. Consider using some of that prison money for other social service solutions.

I look at this from the mindset of a situation where an officer turned me away as a first responder from helping a woman in a car accident. She slipped into the coma. This didn't happen in a vacuum. That officer appears to have engaged in coordinated harassment, acted out of personal loyalties and discriminatory views, and restricted the help the woman needed. ...but there is a lot more to the story. That same officer has a number of people in the community questioning his behavior and actions ranging from all types of various situations. Assuming that all of this is true (which I know some of it is)....what mechanisms are in place to hold that officer accountable and why has he not been held accountable?

So...this is great policy being put forward and I believe that if they go a little further to ensure individual officers are held accountable when complaints have merit it would put to rest many of the other issues people are advocating for. Republicans and Democrats may fight about these issues and play political chess but at the end of the day it is the people who are paying for law enforcement and it is the people that law enforcement must be accountable. Nothing in this seems against either of the major ideological stances of Democrats or Republicans. We have to think long term about the nature of authority to ensure they are fulfilling a function as part of society and not above society.

Such an adjustment helps our officers in the long-run as bad apples that stain the badge are removed and good officers that bring wisdom and integrity are promoted. There should be legal protections in place for mistakes but not for willful misconduct. The long term trend of not taking action today means that society will continue to rub against the Justice system until one or the either must give (From a historical standpoint it is government that must give to long-term trends). We want people to feel safe around officers and know that officers are there to protect them. We also want officers to work with and feel beloved by their communities. Creating greater connections and accountability helps in this process. We love our officers so lets embrace them to be part of our communities and work for our communities.

The Republican brand is under pressure to reform. The world is changing and we know that the essential parts of the philosophy make a lot of sense and could have a significant part in the growth of the nation. However, there are some approaches that could be tweaked to make them more effective and palatable to a new generation of people.

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