Some thoughts about the current political situation and how to most effectively address the issue of police brutality in the United States. My impression personally is that we’re seeing a major shift in popular opinion on this issue, and that significant factions within government at all levels are showing a willingness to address it seriously.
I think the federal government has shown an increased willingness to take serious steps to mitigate police violence. In December 2014 the congress passed a bill that requires states to keep track of all the people that cops kill.
Also in that same month Obama announced federal money for the purpose of putting bodycams on police around the country.
Localities have shown more willingness to prosecute. 2015 saw more cops charged with crimes and put on trial for their killings. Still, it was only 12 total nationwide.
Personally I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen this level of media focus on this issue, particularly the increased sympathy for victims and criticism of the cops. And that goes for general popular discussion and consciousness also.
I think that federal action holds the most potential power to save lives and prevent violence. Also we’ve seen recent action by both congress and Obama. I looked online and couldn’t find any current bills in congress that address this issue.
I might have missed something, but it strikes me that as concerned citizens we have an opportunity to propose and push forward a bill. My thought is to build on the bodycams that Obama is already promoting. Providing more funding for these is a good step. Creating guidelines for their use, including mandated reporting to DOJ would also help to build a habit of transparency as well as a database of evidence for any local trials or lawsuits.
One article I read cautioned that cameras may not lead to increased trust between police and citizens. I think that another important element could be funding for community events that include police. In this way it would provide an incentive to community organizations to invite police to be part of what they are doing. I think this could help ease the increased tension and pressure on police introduced by cameras. It could also help direct resources toward community organizations. And this proposal would take the teeth out of right-wing criticisms that the liberals hate the police, because here the bill is actually encouraging liberal non-profits to include police in their work.