Protect All American Citizens from Police Violence and repair the bonds between American citizens and police
Over 1,800 Americans were killed by police within the last two years https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database. Compare that to the 78 Americans executed by death penalty, between 2014-2016, after a trial by their peers as mandated by our Constitution, and it’s clear that use of force on the streets of America is happening at an alarming rate. The number of Americans killed by police every year even exceed the number of soldiers killed in Iraq each year. And while statistics alone cannot convey the circumstances behind all police and citizen encounters, video evidence has shown there is an urgent need for police reform. This is an issue that affects all Americans.
The fear of challenging the behaviors of our government institutions have led to abuses that have destroyed public trust and harmed millions time and time again. We only need to look as far as Flint, MI to see the dangers of ignoring the pleas of citizens.
Why do we wait to do what we know is right?
In the last two years, we’ve seen a growing divide in our nation over the issue of police conduct towards American citizens. This isn’t the result of media hyperbole or some political agenda; this is a culmination of repeatedly documented events of police misconduct throughout American history. The advancement of portable technologies and the advent of social media have made this a lightning rod issue, and rightfully so. Each year, police misconduct cost cities and states millions in legal fees and lawsuits, draining cities of financial resources that could help cities prosper.
The effect of these behaviors extends to the federal government’s budget. Every year, police departments across the nation seek federal funding through programs like C.O.P.S. to supplement funding of department operations. Americans should not be forced to supplement departments through federal tax dollars that do not adhere to a code of conduct that reflects the values of American citizens.
We recognize that the use of force by police is a necessary component of the job but it is evident that there is a clear need for reform and training in the application of police tactics. Americans agree that a well-trained police force is vital to the stability of any nation. Americans also agree that if the representatives of law enforcement are not held accountable for their actions—like most Americans are in various professions—then we risk jeopardizing our nation's trust in the rule of law.
We the people,
Are petitioning for a national set of standards for policing to help restore the public trust in our institutions of law enforcement through transparency and accountability.
We seek the following:
Police recognize the nature and extent of their discretionary authority and must always be accountable to the people, their elected representatives, and the law for their actions, and be as transparent as possible in their decision-making. Allowing an institution to regulate itself is not regulation. True accountability requires that arrest attempts are recorded on camera for review with department leadership and communities (vehicle and body cameras). It also requires that American’s killed by police are investigated in conjunction with independent civilian investigators that report and share information with the public in a timely manner. Departments that do not adhere to these standards will not receive federal funding or military equipment.
Redefining Acceptable Use of Police Force
The preservation of life should be the foundation for all police use of force. Police officers should continually prepare themselves to use physical force in a restrained and proper manner, with special training in its application to those who are mentally ill. Deadly force should be used only as a last resort and only when death or serious injury of the officer or another person is imminent. Less-than-lethal force should be the first method of discourse at all times. Departments that do not adhere to these standards will not receive federal funding or military equipment.
Training and Mental Health Care for Police
All police officers with arrest powers should begin their career with a broad and advanced education in the sciences and humanities. Training should consist of rigorous and extensive training courses in an adult-learning climate that teaches both the ethics and skills of democratic policing. Officers should receive frequent testing based on real-life scenarios and the adequate response required for varied situations. Finally, officers will undergo annual psychological testing to evaluate the effects of community policing on an officer’s behaviors over time. Departments that do not adhere to these standards will not receive federal funding or military equipment.
Anonymous Reporting Protections for Police
The mark of a good police department and the officers who work within it is that they continuously are allowed to conduct their duties as a police officer without fear of retaliation for reporting abuses within their field. Officers should have access to a federal hotline to report internal corruption without revealing their identities to ensure that our officers have a secure method to uphold their commitment to upholding the law. Departments that do not adhere to these standards will not receive federal funding or military equipment.
Elimination of Arrest Quotas
The police role is, above all else, that of community peacekeepers, and not merely law enforcers or crime fighters. Their training, work, and values should all point towards the keeping of peace in the community, not the collection of fines or arrests to meet department quotas. As gatekeepers to the criminal justice system, police must see themselves as defenders and protectors of Constitutional and human rights, especially for those who cannot defend or care for themselves in our society. Arrest quotas force officers to look for offenses that generate revenue instead of addressing meaningful infractions that affect public safety. Quotas create unnecessary community interactions that put officers lives at risk and erode public support for the police. Departments that do not adhere to these standards will not receive federal funding or military equipment.
Whether it's policing, education, the health care industry, or any other area that Americans put their faith in, the strength of this nation depends on our willingness to address problems swiftly, hold people accountable, and make the necessary changes to address Americans concerns.
Don't let the status quo ruin our nation's ability to repair the bonds between American citizens and police.
The Protect All American Citizens from Police Violence and repair the bonds between American citizens and police petition to Department of Justice was written by Michael Lando and is in the category Civil Rights at GoPetition.