How We Move Beyond Dallas

Source: Spencer Overton & Kami Chavis, American Prospect, July 13, 2016

Calls for healing and reconciliation in the wake of recent racial violence overlook the substantive, concrete steps that experts say would help forestall the next police tragedy. …

….There are solutions. Research shows that the media and popular culture have perpetuated the harmful stereotypes that correlate blackness with dangerousness—but that they can also be powerful forces in correcting those stereotypes and decreasing implicit biases. In the meantime, departments can assess implicit bias in new recruits and in current officers, and can train police to mitigate it. They can also provide officers training in de-escalation tactics. Departments can improve police-community relations through community satisfaction surveys, civilian review boards, body cameras, and independent investigations and prosecutions in shootings by police officers. They can also collect key data on the use of force, and on the race of individuals stopped or arrested by police. These and other solutions are spelled out in a string of government and expert reports, including the Obama administration’s Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing; the findings of the Center for Policing Equity; and the Engaging Communities in Reducing Gun Violence report put out by our own Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. ….
What Black Lives Matter means beyond policing reform
Source: Garrett Felber, The Conversation, July 11, 2016

….The challenge facing us now is twofold. First, how can we think about addressing the problem of racialized police violence beyond professional and mechanical reforms?

And second, how can the national spotlight on police brutality be used as an opportunity to make broader changes that answer the fundamental question posed by Black Lives Matter: What does it look like to value black life?…

What troubled US police forces can learn from the civil rights era
Source: Kevern Verney, The Conversation, July 12, 2016

…..The Kerner Commission, as it is better known, was set up by President Lyndon Johnson, who tasked it with identifying the causes of the race riots that took place across the US in the five “Long Hot Summers” of 1964-68.

The report found a history of poor police practices was a common factor in many riots. And five decades on, it seems not much has changed.

In 2015, the report of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing made the same point: “Law enforcement cannot build community trust if it is seen as an occupying force coming in from outside to impose control on the community.”

Among other things, the task force looked to new technology to provide a solution for old problems. It recommended that police officers wear body cameras to help with training and improve public trust. They should also carry tasers as well as guns.

It sounds like common sense. If officers are filmed while they are on duty then they will think twice before stepping out of line; and using tasers to stop violent suspects will lead to fewer fatal shootings. But it’s not that simple…..