The recent plethora of protests, about the death of George Floyd, the latest black man to die as a result of police brutality, raises the key question – how do we stop this pestilence on civil society?
Police brutality appears to be the result of institutionalised police training and control methods. Despite the lethal result of “restraints” choke holds and neck suppression still abound in takedown operations.
However the underlying premise behind these protests is not only that black people are dying at the hands of police operations but the way that police departments run their operations. Increasingly militarisation of police services is the norm, especially in the USA where military equipment is recycled into police departments. Do not think for a moment that Cobourg is immune from this movement. I remember being shocked by the appearance of our local police department turning out for a Remembrance Parade escort and traffic duties armed with fully automatic carbines slung across their heavily padded chests.
There is a better way – some have called for it in the simplistic slogan – “Defund the Police” but few have fleshed it out. In Cobourg we have a police service with four platoons of front line officers – all armed to the teeth – tasers, pistols (glocks) and with access to automatic carbines and shotguns.
The question to be asked is; do we need fully armed officers to respond to every single response? How do we start the debate about the future of policing in our community?
The previous police chief instituted an major increase in part time police, he expanded the number of part-time officers and auxiliary police people. He replicated the full time force and used the part timers to reinforce the front line officers. But he only expanded the existing police ways of doing business!
With incidents requiring a police response being of a non-violent dispute do we really need a fully armed officer to conduct the investigation. In some cases the presence of armed officers may intimidate, especially in family dispute situations. The time has come to send in social workers not armed officers.
It is time for police services to examine the records, just how many incidents require the services of properly trained interventionists as opposed to fully armed officers who may have a smattering of social service training?
If we are able to define the actual operations of police services we can assign the correct response to situations. I understand that some incidents can turn violent and require the reactions of officers trained to respond to violent situations. But a lot don’t.
“Defund the Police” is only a slogan – let’s take it one step closer and actually examine the way we police ourselves. If we do that and establish a police service that ALL members of society recognise as working for ALL then BLM protests should become redundant!