Tag Archives: police reform

No federal rules on policing

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

As a “good government progressive,” I feel the need to weigh in on an issue that is beginning to get some traction, particularly in light of the conviction of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.

It’s the issue of police reform and whether Congress should enact laws that dictate how local police departments should do their business.

I don’t consider that a level of “good government” by the feds. Congress would be well-advised to keep its hands off what is fundamentally a local-control issue.

Floyd’s death while being arrested in Minneapolis for passing some fake currency was a shocking reminder of how cops can go rogue and how the consequences of their actions can cause such tragic results. A jury convicted Chauvin of second- and third-degree murder and of second-degree manslaughter. He is likely to spend many years in prison.

Police departments answer to local governing authorities. City councils or senior city administrators have the final say over how the cops should do their job. They hire police chiefs, who then administer policing rules and regulations for their officers to follow. The burden must remain with them — not Congress — to determine what is correct and proper. If the voters in their cities, counties and states don’t like the way these matters are being handled, they can take measures to rectify the situation.

And yet some zealots are pushing Congress to enact federal laws that prohibit certain policies. No, Congress should stay away from that particular discussion and let local communities have their say.

I, too, am horrified at what has been happening in communities across the land. Too many police officers are acting badly when arresting racial minorities. The result, such as what happened to George Floyd, have occurred with shocking regularity.

It must rest with those communities to repair the damage being done and to find permanent repairs. Congress need not get involved in what belongs to others to resolve.

‘Defunding’ = ‘reform’

I dislike the phrase “defund the police,” which has become all the rage — pun intended, really — across the nation these days.

Individuals and groups of Americans are angry at police departments over the way many of them treat African-Americans. They contend that the cops are much rougher and tougher on black citizens than they are on white folks.

Indeed, the videos we have seen — such as the George Floyd video in Minneapolis, which has spawned so much of the anger — tell a grim tale of “systemic racism” that many folks believe runs rampant in police departments.

If “defund the police” means “reform the police,” then why not call it what it is … a move to enact fundamental reform of police departments?

I don’t believe these efforts to “defund the police” means that communities will go without police protection. Cities such as Minneapolis, though, are taking gigantic steps toward redirecting police funds to other programs intended to assist communities in need.

My hope for all this anger is to see police departments, even those that haven’t been caught up in the swirl of controversy, enact meaningful reform. By “reform,” I intend to mean that the reforms will produce dramatic improvement in community/police relationships.

Every department, given the tenor of the times and the extreme anger being expressed all across the nation, would do well in this moment to examine carefully how their officers are being trained to respond to incidents involving  everyone they serve. That means black citizens, white citizens, immigrants … you name it.

Are they ensuring even-handed treatment of everyone with whom they come in contact? That is where reforming the police can begin.

Trump fumbles chance to deal forthrightly with racial unrest

Donald J. Trump came to North Texas today ostensibly to talk about race relations, about police reform and about how to quell the suspicions of the African-American community about police protection in its neighborhoods.

Well, he didn’t come close to sealing the deal.

Trump spoke to mostly white folks. He snubbed three of Dallas County’s top law enforcement officials — all of whom are black — and talked mostly aloud about the demonstrations that turned riotous in response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in late May.

Trump never mentioned George Floyd’s name in public. He talked about the beauty of seeing Minneapolis police use tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

Where was the public acknowledgement that there might, indeed, be a serious problem with police protection in African-American communities? I didn’t hear anything.

I continue to support police efforts to protect and serve the communities they patrol. I am not going to endorse the notion of “systemic racism” within all police departments. I do, though, acknowledge there needs to be serious examination of police practices and there should be a careful and thorough discussion of ways that police departments can ensure that they treat all citizens equally.

I wish Donald Trump would have spoken to all of that while he visited North Texas. He didn’t say a word publicly about police practices. He didn’t say a word about the man whose recent death has galvanized a movement.

Donald Trump failed once again.

Trump to talk about ‘police reform’? Really? C’mon!

Donald Trump, the guy who famously encouraged police to get rougher with criminal suspects, now is going to talk to the nation about police reform.

To which I say, simply: You gotta be kidding!

Trump is responding to the outcry and uproar over the death of George Floyd and the calls to “defund police” around the nation. Floyd, a native of Houston, died when that rogue Minneapolis cop snuffed the life out of him by kneeling on the back of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds.

So now the president of the United States is going to offer his view on how to reform police procedures? Is that right?

Oh, my. Donald Trump has nothing constructive to add to this debate. How do I know that? Because his political record contains zero evidence of any commitment to the issues that have roiled the nation in the wake of Floyd’s death.

Trump doesn’t speak to the issue of police practices. He doesn’t reach deep into his gut to speak to the misery that so many Americans of color feel when they hear of these incidents. Trump doesn’t express a scintilla of empathy or genuine sorrow over the death of a man who was killed while lying on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back. 

Trump has saved his public outrage — every bit of it — for the rioters who went berserk in cities across the nation.

What is so profoundly weird is the thought of Donald Trump reading a prepared text from a Teleprompter and trying to persuade us that he means what he is reading. You’ve seen Trump in these moments, yes? When he reads such text, I get the sense that he looks like someone reading a statement with a gun pointed at the back of his skull. Donald Trump simply is incapable of sounding sincere in that context.

What are we going to hear from Donald Trump. More tripe, I fear that it will demonstrate once again to us out here this clown’s fecklessness and recklessness.

Time has come for federal police reform

The nation is facing a watershed moment in its struggle to correct a problem that has grown into a full-blown crisis.

We must debate honestly, completely and comprehensively the issue of police reform at the federal level. What does that take? It requires our Congress — House members and senators — to determine that racist policies in local police departments have contributed to the needless deaths of too many African-Americans.

George Floyd’s tragic demise two weeks ago in Minneapolis, Minn., ad the hands of a rogue white cop appears to be the tipping point.

Democrats are calling for a national response. Republicans so far have been quiet about that. Democrats see racism as a national crisis; Republicans appear to view it as a local matter to be solved at the local level.

I believe today that we are entangled in a national crisis that needs a solution enacted by Congress and signed into law by the president of the United States.

We can talk all we want about police departments enacting policies that ban chokeholds or other restraint techniques that inhibit people’s ability to breathe … for crying out loud! Do we trust all PDs to do the right thing? No. We cannot.

I believe the time has come for Congress to enter this fight. There ought to be a solution that that makes use of these techniques a violation of federal law. I am not not altogether certain that we can endure the kind of response we have seen in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Will a federal prohibition end this mistreatment of U.S. citizens? Probably not. However, there must be ways to apply deterrent pressure on beat cops and the brass sitting in police headquarters to ensure that they follow federal law or else face serious consequences.

Call it the George Floyd Law if you wish, or name it after any of the individuals who have died as a result of police brutality.

Let’s get it done!