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Since Mike Brown was killed by now former police officer Darren Wilson five years ago, the Ferguson Police Department hired a new police chief and the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the police department. But was that enough?

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On the fifth anniversary of Mike Brown’s killing, it’s worth asking—is police reform enough? Or should policing be abolished all together?

In the clip above, David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition; Chivona Newsome, co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York; and Elie Mystal, executive editor at Above the Law share their differing views on the issue.

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Watch the full conversation in the video below for more:

Jessica Moulite is an award-winning Video Producer at The Root passionate about dismantling unjust societal power structures and all things Black culture. She's also probably watching “Living Single.”

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DISCUSSION

commentingwhileambivalent99
CommentingWhileAmbivalent

Policing can’t be abolished. Human nature, when viewed historically, says that humans will always abuse one another in some way. We need some sort of authority to handle the criminal elements in society.

I think what has to happen is that police departments need to be audited, people fired and new hiring has to take place. This has to be done by an independent, non-local, third party civilian driven entity.

New hiring has to include more stringent guidelines on allowable candidates where psychological testing, background checking, and overall job fit assessment must be more rigorous. Training must be longer than it is now and more arrayed to catch unfit candidates and wash them out.

There probably needs to be federal guidelines, funding, and federal level officer accreditation in place. A combination of civilian and police oversight and federal prosecution of officers who do commit crimes to remove local prosecutors from the process.

The police need to be demilitarized. They don’t need AR15s in every car. Return to the days of specialist SWAT teams who are on standby for specific situations, not training a percentage of the force as SWAT and giving them military gear in their cars.

Body cameras and 360 vehicle cameras need to be mandatory, they need to be regulated so that turning them off triggers an immediate investigation as to why.

A national registry of terminated police officers has to be created and every officer candidate from city to county to state has to be run through it prior to hiring to determine if an officer quit because they were about to be fired for questionable or criminal activities. All investigations of officers have to be completed even if the officer quits, and their quitting before resolution noted in same registry along with investigative findings.

Laws need to be written so that no police union contract can obscure accountability and transparency, delay investigations, or otherwise impair the ability to manage the police in any way. Union contracts have to be about pay and benefits and working conditions. No cooling off periods for police officers if they kill someone in the line of duty unless civilians get this same benefit. Period.

People are also going to have to accept we will have to pay for all of this. Defunding of police departments has made them worse overall and less able to properly train and support their officers.

Also we will have to make certain they have access to mental health professionals and that an officer in crisis is not shamed but supported. We see all of the terrible things they do but we don’t often see what terrible things they experience that change them as human beings. I have yet to know a veteran officer who didn’t have some form of PTSD from seeing the worst side of humanity day in and out. All you have to do is look at the alcoholism, marriage failures, and suicide rates to see what these men and women are going through. They are still human, they get changed by experiencing terrible things like any of us. 

Would this be perfect?

Heck no but it would be much better than what we have now. Police have too much power over life and death and a person’s freedom to have so low standards of employment, lack of transparency, mental health support and far too often lack of accountability.

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