EDITORIAL: Law enforcement must truly protect and serve


Imagine being raped on the hard floor of a bathroom you don’t remember walking into, only waking up to your friends’ desperate efforts to find where you are. Think about what it might be like to step out of a house that feels like a distant memory, get ready for a short drive that feels like hours to the hospital in your underwear, soiled by the Someone else’s DNA, in a bag marked as evidence.

You talk to the police. You tell them everything.

But three years later, they no longer answer your calls. They don’t check on you. And your underwear, forever ruined by someone else’s exploitation, lies in a room, somewhere you wouldn’t recognize, along with 73,000 other pieces of evidence – waiting, far too long .

This is not a made up story.

But what about an officer in the town we live in ignoring the desperate cries of a witness to help a victim of a rape he witnessed nearby? It couldn’t have happened.

But he did.

And George Floyd didn’t die from police brutality, did he? Kanye West said no, so it must be true.

No, he was choked to death.

Well, who killed him was just a bad apple, right? To that, we say that if the tree keeps producing bad apples, then maybe the damn thing should just be uprooted.

For law enforcement, one of the key promises they make is to protect and serve our communities and neighborhoods.

Law enforcement in the city and across the country seems to take this casual attitude toward protecting the public instead.

The militarization of our police forces across the country only makes them fearful of the people they are meant to protect. Police officers are trained to shoot, taze, pepper spray, shout and pose as demanding and intimidating. We are supposed to fear them. But how do you feel safe around people who incite fear?

The system is broken, but we can’t afford it to be broken any longer. People are hurting, and the force, originally founded to try to capture escaped slaves in this country, needs to be reinvented – now.

We need extensive training and better resources for social workers. We need crisis response teams in every city, backed by a federal mental health care plan, so we can stop filling jails and jails with people who need help — without being punished.

The training period for law enforcement should be much longer than it already is. Rather than shoot first and ask questions later, there should be more emphasis on defusing situations peacefully. In fact, the New Orleans Police Department has emphasized de-escalation training as part of its program since 2016. Since then, it has been reported in 2020 that the number of reported cases of officers raising their firearms had decreased by almost 50%.

The thing is, not every incident needs a shot with only a few months of firearms training and even less law and order experience. Why can’t we send a traffic task force to car accidents? Social workers to rape crime scenes?

The decision of what law enforcement does should ultimately rest with the community they are meant to serve.

Officers of justice are a necessary part of our society, but the resources given to them and members of the force must be better utilized in how we as a community choose to operate them in their promise to us. protect.

Because they’re not fulfilling that promise now, and we desperately need a promise that lasts.


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