by Doctor Science
The only good news I've seen about American police-citizen relations is this: Conservatives Join Outrage Over Grand Jury Decision In Eric Garner's Death. When Charles Krauthammer and I agree that the situation is borked, there's actually a possibility that something might change.
The essential problem, as I see it, is: American police kill way too many people, and they face no accountability for their mistakes. Which possible approaches might help solve this problem? And which have a chance of being tried?
I made a list a while ago, it could be a start.
One of my suggestions was that *any* "police-involved death" should have mandatory consequences, whether it was intentional, accidental, justified, or whatever. I don't mean mandatory prison terms, I mean consequences, for the officer and for the department. *Every* death should be treated as a system failure, whether the victim "deserved it" or not.
One possibility: any officer who is involved in a "police-involved death" loses the right to carry a weapon (including a Taser) and to have contact with the public where weapons might be appropriate. In the first place, because it's *really bad* for people to be killers, it's traumatic and damaging. If police officers can kill and go out on the streets again, they will feel -- and act -- like soldiers.
This suggestion really riled up some of our more conservative commenters, who thought it would, among other things, undercut police recruitment. After the past couple of months, I'm inclined to see that as a feature, not a bug -- because law enforcement seems to have attracted a disproportionate number of, frankly, bullies, the kind of people we should be keeping away from the authorized use of force. I get this impression partly from anecdotal evidence, but also from actual statistics, e.g. of the high rate of domestic violence by police officers.
Anecdata also tell me that, while the really bad cops are a minority, the "us versus them", Thin Blue Line culture of policing is far stronger than any desire for accountability or justice. So *all* cops protect the bad ones, and it's less like "a few bad apples in the barrel" and more like "a few ounces of poison in the wine". Most of the wine is still good! Why do you hate all wine?