A video or story of police abuse of power comes across my news feed every single day. Recently it was this one of Matthew Ajibade. It is painfully apparent that our justice system is ignoring the judicial responsibility of trial by peers, and that the executive enforcement of the law has gotten out of control.
Police are required to enforce the law, but they are in no way allowed to issue their own death penalties. The fact that any single person has ever been beaten to death by police officers, especially while in custody, is a completely unacceptable abuse of our Constitutional rights. We have a constitutionally inalienable right to due process. Police homicide seems to be rampant, and it appears that a science fiction, police state dystopia has been brought to life in many communities throughout the US.
If police officers’ feelings are hurt because we the people do not trust them, it is not our fault. To fix things, here are some reform ideas that I cannot believe are not already in place:
– Police need to be heavily, psychologically tested to weed out the bad cops ruining the reputation of all the good cops.
– Every cop needs a camera that cannot be manually turned off when the cops kill someone. Police tell us that we don’t have to worry if we have nothing to hide, so why is it not the same for them?
– We need to give cops higher salaries and adequately fund police departments so that they do not need to fleece the people in order to meet quotas, and that they can have quality compensation without abusing their power. That should be something we can agree to pay more tax money for: a lawful, moral police force with which we are comfortable.
– The police should not be legally allowed to lie to people, and the cameras should vigilantly protect against rights violations. Many states have zero-tolerance and three-strikes-and-you’re-out laws, so it should not be controversial that police need to be held to even higher standards than regular citizens. Interrogations are the main area in which police lie, but citizens have a Fifth Amendment right not to have to incriminate themselves. This makes interrogations more difficult, obviously, but we should not sacrifice our freedom or have an untrustworthy police force, especially when the chiseling of our rights leads to police lies outside of the interrogation room. I am sick of seemingly constant news stories detailing how police doctor evidence, misreport filmed police brutality, and how suspiciously unreasonable traffic stops lead to citizen homicide. None of this is anti-cop, it is solely anti-law enforcement terrorism.
– Maybe police should study the law longer. Lawyers who defend against police breaking the law go to school much longer with much more difficult testing in order to know the law, and police need to have an airtight grasp of the law if they are going to enforce it. There should be zero tolerance for police who get caught purposefully abusing the law, especially as it is increasingly legal for police to retroactively claim anything they want in order to justify stepping over the lines of legality.
– The trend toward unmarked police patrol cars needs to turn around. There is no reason that the police need to have unmarked cars to give out speeding tickets, and regular police officers need to be public, transparent beacons of security. Not spiders hiding in the dark.
– Police need to start being role models and stop speeding, running stop signs, and texting while driving. Everyone sees this on a regular basis. And this includes the practice of police stalking people at night until they do something wrong. People should not be treated guilty until they’re proven innocent, and this practice goes against the cornerstone of due process protected by our Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
None of these reform ideas are radical. These are reforms to stop the blatant abuse of our rights, especially the rights of minorities. White is not the official skin color of America, but unfortunately race cannot be extricated from our justice system’s glaring problems. I do not understand how anyone who shares my white ethnic background can watch endless news stories of black people being killed and not be royally pissed off. In an idealistic world the police would never kill a single non-violent offender, so why is it considered “anti-police” to want strive for it.
Homicidal police playing judge and jury in issuing death sentences that they themselves execute with brutal street-side beatings and chokings disproportionately inflicted against minority citizens is an extension of Jim Crow lynching, and a breakdown of our government’s carefully considered checks and balances between the judicial and executive branches. None of these reforms are specifically anti-cop, they are generalized pro-life hopes for moral, equal and emotionally sober law enforcement.