The unrest (sparked by Police brutality) going on in many other countries is something that we can avoid by making changes to the way Police operate.
Body cameras should be mandatory for all police, especially for responses involving use of force. What is the disciplinary process for officers who conveniently “forget” to turn on the camera? Are discipline, suspension and termination records public? If not, why?
The Police Commissioner has publicly spoken about “non lethal” weapons such as tasers, pepper spray, rubber bullets. “Rubber” bullets have a metal core covered by a thin rubber layer and are capable of death or serious injury.
A study on rubber/plastic kinetic projectiles found that 71 per cent suffered injury categorised as severe and 15 per cent of people were permanently disabled, especially when firing distances were less than recommended by the manufacturer or targeted the head or neck. Similarly tasers have been implicated in the deaths of thousands of people, same with pepper spray or CS gas. We should not confuse “less lethal” with “non lethal”!
Some of these problems are a result of the whole training process and mindset imparted to recruits during training, either officially or “off the record.” In Germany it takes 3 years to become a cop. How long does it take locally? What are the minimum entry requirements —do we train intelligent mentally healthy people or whatever we can get? What is the percentage of time spent on de-escalation and community policing strategies compared to firearms and self-defence? Does training cover positional asphyxia that was likely a contributor in George Floyd’s death?
The militarisation of police (armoured vehicles, SWAT teams) ultimately does nothing but worsen existing problems.
It’s unrealistic to expect that with shiny new toys the police are going to choose de-escalating a situation rather than have any reason to “test out” their toys. In fact, it would appear that police are taught to keep escalating until compliance is achieved! But there should be “use minimum force necessary” rule for conflicts and de-escalation should be the first response. The Mayor of Chicago has announced many directives for improved police training in light of George Floyd’s death—will we do the same?
Police need to be held to account to a higher standard than civilians, because they are entrusted with authority and weapons that the rest of us don’t have. This means that they should self police and not be complacent when others cross the line, otherwise they are just as guilty. Bad apples must be prosecuted and face justice just as a normal person would.
The whole idea of “paid leave,” “transfer” and “suspension” must not be options for officers who have a history of complaints or break laws. The officer who killed George Floyd had 18 complaints against him, yet these were ignored by the police department he worked in!
The Police Complaints Authority should be given additional powers to facilitate investigation as they are best positioned to serve as an independent check and balance on the service. Unfortunately I don’t think the Police Association cares about public interest as much as the rights of its members (like many other Public Sector Unions). They should be not allowed to dictate future direction.