by Doctor Science
Shaun King of Los Angeles put up a change.org petition for new federal laws to protect citizens from police violence and misconduct. He says
I love good police officers. I have them in my immediate family. Like all civil servants they are underpaid and under-resourced for a difficult job.Proposed policy changes to address this:
However, a long and completely avoidable history of violence by police officers has killed too many innocent civilians, caused a destructive level of mistrust in the community, and is causing a rising tide of anger, frustration, and despair among millions of good people.
1. The shooting and killing of an unarmed citizen who does not have an outstanding warrant for a violent crime should be a federal offense.Note that there are about 800,000 police officers in the US. If cameras are $100 each, that's $80M. That cost is a fraction of the $350M per year Homeland Security gives local police departments, much of it going for military equipment that is *wildly* inappropriate for policing your fellow citizens.
2. Choke holds and chest compressions by police (what the coroner lists as the official cause of death for Eric Garner) should be federally banned.
3. All police officers must wear forward-facing body cameras while on duty. They cost just $99 and are having a signficant, positive impact in several cities around the United States and the world.
4. Suspensions for violations of any of the above offenses should be UNPAID.
5. Convictions for the above offenses should have their own set of mandatory minimum penalties.
When I look at this list of proposed policies, my first objection is to the wording of the first one. I think the police-mediated death *by any means* of a citizen who isn't imminently threatening someone's life, or who doesn't have a warrant against them, should be a federal offense. This includes things like deaths by taser or death when police feel threatened.
I even think direct but accidental deaths, or deaths when the police are mistaken, should be punished. Yes, maybe it was "just a mistake" -- but the police are too dangerous to be allowed to get away with unsanctioned mistakes. Basically, any mistaken or accidental death by police should count as negligent homicide. And it has to be a federal crime, because the Blue Code of Silence means that local police can't be trusted to investigate themselves.
Many people here are lawyers or experienced with the justice or protection system. Which of these policy suggestions do you think has a chance of getting into law? As King says, one of the huge problems (in e.g. Ferguson, MO as I write) is " a destructive level of mistrust in the community". Which of these suggestions has a chance of reducing that mistrust?