Police brutality: it is a hot topic in today’s world, especially now. Police brutality and racial injustice is a huge issue that we have yet to face. For example, on August 23rd, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by Rusten Sheskey in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This is just one of many instances of police brutality which have sparked international outrage. People have called for the defunding of the police as one of the many solutions to this nationwide problem. The United States has the biggest issue with racism and police brutality, according to statistics. According to The Guardian, police in the United States had 59 fatal shootings in the first 24 days of 2015 as compared to England and Wales, who had 54 fatal shootings in the past 24 years. There is a huge disparity there, plain for all to see. According to another article by Nature: “About 1,000 civilians are killed each year by law-enforcement officers in the United States. By one estimate, Black men are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police during their lifetime. And in another study, Black people who were fatally shot by police seemed to be twice as likely as white people to be unarmed…”So, how do we fix it?
Well, first, there are those that say that we need a standardized code of police education. As it stands, there is none. Some states require 700 hours of education, while others require more than 900. Some states even allow officers to begin work without finishing all their basic training. There is no standard set, and that needs to change if we are going to begin to fix this problem.
While we are on the subject of education and training, many believe that we should also focus more on implicit bias training. This training is supposed to make officers see their underlying prejudices and be able to put that aside in order to do their job better. While some argue that this actually does nothing in the long-term, I believe it is still important enough that it should be taught nationwide, until unarmed black men stop being killed by officers who obviously have some sort of racial bias and prejudice.
We also should look into demilitarizing the police. In the 1990s, the 1033 Program was born, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Because of this, the Department of Defense is able to dole out excess equipment to local authorities. Since the program’s inception, nearly $7.4 billion dollars worth of equipment has been transferred, including armored vehicles and rifles. Frighteningly enough, the Department of Defense doesn’t include training with much of the equipment, leaving the local authorities to train themselves. When I think of the 1033 Program, I think of the many images of police in their armored vehicles spraying protestors with tear gas, and hauling them away.
The recent protests and the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked international outrage, and made it very clear that we have issues with the way the police handle these problems. Many say that the police have a warrior mindset, and that the military equipment is making it far worse. Instead of our friends and protectors, there are those, especially minorities, who - rightly - fear them. We need a total overhaul of the system, and hopefully these protests bring that to light, and actually make a change. There are, of course, good police men and women out there, who are also outraged by these events and the way this is making the whole police system look. We can only hope that they also stand for the BLM movement and the change that is so desperately needed.